Transfer Rankings Embarrass Two-Year Colleges On California List
California’s community college system targeted 14 of 107 two-year colleges for having the worst record for transferring students to state universities. More than half of them are in the Los Angeles area.
The California Community Colleges list angered many of the schools whose administrators see it as a list of shame assembled under pressure from state legislators.
The list was assembled for the first time because this year’s state budget ordered community college districts “to increase the number of student transfers from low-transfer community colleges by an average of 15 percent annually.”
Transfers to the California State University and University of California systems was the yardstick used by the chancellor’s researchers and specified in the budget.
Critics say the list is misleading. Los Angeles Trade-Tech College, for instance, was last on the list of schools with low transfer rates.
“Los Angeles Trade-Tech, as it advertises in its name, has primarily a vocational function,” says Leige Henderson, vice
president of academic affairs. “Our students primarily come here to learn a trade so they can go out and make a living.” Many of the bottom 14 serve large numbers of Hispanic and Black students, including Los Angeles Mission College, Los Angeles Harbor College, East Los Angeles College, Rio Hondo College, Cerritos College, Santa Ana College and Chaffey College.
The others, scattered around the state, include San Diego City College, Marin College, Monterey Peninsula College, Imperial Valley College, Barstow College and Lassen Community College. Chancellor’s researchers collected data to compare transfer rates at the 107 colleges, coming up with an initial list of 26 campuses.
But some factors reducing transfer rates are beyond the control of college administrators. Community colleges in the shadow of a university, for instance, usually send more students to that university than a campus farther away.
To make colleges more comparable, researchers adjusted the transfer rates, factoring in the distance to the nearest Cal State campus, the proportion of students under age 25, how many come from low-income households and the proportion who entered college with a stated goal of completing a four-year degree. The list dropped to 14 with those computations.
Willard Hom, the chancellor’s director of planning and research, says the study has many limitations. It ignores a relatively small number of successful students who continued their education at private universities or who transferred to institutions outside California. It also doesn’t factor in race or ethnicity.
Although Blacks and Hispanics are less likely than White and Asian American students to transfer to a university, researchers consciously excluded this as an adjustment.
Hom wrote in his study that he didn’t want “to promote an attitude of lowered expectations for certain disadvantaged groups.”
© Copyright 2005 by DiverseEducation.com