To help community colleges tell their stories, the National Student Clearinghouse and the Association of Community College Trustees have published The Role of Community Colleges in Postsecondary Success Report. Below is an excerpt from the report's introduction.
Given the multiple missions community colleges have and the diverse services they provide, the metrics used to assess their effectiveness must be updated to include more than just the graduation rate of first-time, full-time students. To assist community colleges with the metrics needed, the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center views the following three categories as important indicators of community college progress:
1. College Persistence
2. Transfer and Mobility
3. Certificate and Degree Completion
Six out of 10 students who begin college at a two-year public institution persist into the second fall term. Of the students who persist, nearly one in five do so at a transfer destination.
Transfer and Mobility
Of all students who began college at two-year public institutions in fall 2008, 24.4 percent transferred to a four-year institution within six years and 15.0 percent transferred to two-year institutions (lateral transfer), for an overall transfer rate of 39.6 percent.
Certificate and Degree Completion
In the 2016 Signature Report on completion rates, the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center found that 30 percent of the fall 2010 entering cohort of community college students completed their first credential within six years at either the initial institution where they were enrolled or at a different two-year college. In addition, another 9.3 percent completed their first credential at a four-year institution.