College Completion Network Findings

College Completion Network

The College Completion Network, led by AIR and funded by the Institute of Education Sciences, brought together research teams focused on postsecondary success for students—coordinated by a network lead—to share ideas, build new knowledge, conduct strong research, and share findings. Specifically, the network worked to refine and evaluate interventions for increasing the number of students who earn degrees in open- and broad-access institutions with the goal of providing college leaders and policymakers with reliable evidence on promising strategies.

The research teams in the College Completion Network conducted studies to refine and evaluate interventions for increasing the number of students who earn degrees at open- and broad-access institutions with the goal of providing college leaders and policymakers with reliable evidence on promising strategies.

March 2023

Working Paper: The Impacts and Experiences of Corequisite Remediation for Latinx Students

Colleges across the United States are now placing most or all students directly into college-level courses and providing supplementary, aligned academic support alongside the courses, also known as “corequisite remediation.” To better understand the potential for differential impacts of English corequisites for Latinx students, this study leverages data from a randomized control trial across five large urban community colleges across Texas. We also utilize student survey data to develop a deeper understanding of how corequisites shape the experiences of Latinx students in their college-level English courses.

March 2023
graduation cap

AERA Presentation: Serving Servant Leaders- Understanding the Institutional Strengths and Financial Needs of Historically Black Colleges and Universities That Serve Low-Income STEM Students

This research seeks to understand the financial characteristics of HBCUs that enroll a large proportion of students who come from low-income families and how these characteristics influence student success in STEM. The study used secondary data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) to examine the financial metrics of HBCUs that are associated with the percent of students awarded Pell grants. The sample size consists of 84 four-year HBCUs that submitted financial information to IPEDS. Included in this sample are HBCUs that serve undergraduate students with active grants funded through the National Science Foundation Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (S-STEM) program.

March 2023
CALDER Center paper

Teachers and Students’ Postsecondary Outcomes: Testing the Predictive Power of Test and Nontest Teacher Quality Measures

This paper from the CALDER Center examines how different measures of teacher quality are related to students’ long-run trajectories. Comparing teachers’ test-based value-added to nontest value-added – based on contributions to student absences and grades – they find that test and nontest value-added have similar effects on the average quality of colleges that students attend. However, test-based teacher quality measures have more explanatory power for outcomes relevant for students at the top of the achievement distribution such as attending a more selective college, while nontest measures have more explanatory power for whether students graduate from high school and enroll in college at all.

March 2023

College Completion Network: Research Project Findings

This document presents high-level summaries of the approaches and findings of each network project as well as links to additional resources related to the projects. These projects examined interventions for which there was strong interest at open- and broad-access institutions. College leaders, practitioners, and policymakers can use the findings to guide decision making related to the use and refinement of these interventions. 

March 2023

Confucius Institutes at U.S. Institutions of Higher Education: Waiver Criteria for the Department of Defense

More than 100 U.S. institutions of higher education hosted Confucius Institutes (CIs), Chinese government-funded language and culture centers, on campus during the late 2000s and 2010s. While CIs provided a source of funding and other resources that enabled U.S. colleges and universities to build capacity, offer supplemental programming, and engage with the local community, CIs presented an added, legitimate source of risk to host institutions with respect to academic freedom, freedom of expression, and national security. At the request of DOD, Confucius Institutes at U.S. Institutions of Higher Education presents a set of findings and recommendations for waiver criteria to potentially permit the continued presence of CIs on U.S. university campuses that also receive DOD funding.

January 2023

Tool 4: Beyond Title IX – Pursuing Full Participation through Plan, Do, Study, Act (PDSA)

As many work to make the Science Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) career pipeline more inclusive, the proportion of students and faculty in STEM who experience gender-based discrimination remains high. This recent book chapter from AIR’s Jennifer Poole is intended to help leaders and stakeholders evolve approaches to addressing gender-based discrimination in ways that also support full participation for campus community members. The tool provided in the book chapter is informed by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement's (IHI's) recommended process of Plan Do Study Ask (PDSA) – for continuous improvement.

January 2023

Addressing Barriers to Women’s Entry and Retention in High-Wage, High-Demand Occupations

This infographic presents promising strategies for addressing barriers to both entry and retention for women in pursuing such occupations. It suggests policymakers and practitioners’ strategies to address inequities in access to higher education and improve mobility among underserved women.

January 2023
throwing grad caps


AIR, in collaboration with Quality Education for Minorities and the Kapor Center, is examining learning environments that enable undergraduate students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to thrive and subsequently attain doctoral degrees in science and engineering (S&E). The goals of the study are to (a) identify unique characteristics of S&E learning environments at the 21 HBCUs ranked as top producers of Black baccalaureate degree recipients who earn S&E doctorates (“anchor institutions”), (b) identify HBCUs that have similar characteristics as the anchor institutions and have a high potential to graduate students who go on to earn doctoral degrees, and (c) develop and disseminate a model that builds HBCU capacity to produce graduates who go on to earn S&E doctorates. Click here to access the project website.

October 2022
lecture classroom

Using Corequisite Remediation to Help Students Progress to College-Level Courses

One common approach to helping students who have been assessed as needing developmental education is corequisite remediation, where students enroll directly in college-level courses while receiving concurrent and aligned developmental educational support. There are numerous corequisite education models (for example, paired courses or tutoring), each designed to support students in passing college-level courses while avoiding the delays associated with prerequisite developmental courses. This brief from MDRC describes lessons from the emerging research examining the effects of corequisite education.

October 2022
grad cap man

HBCU Adult Learner Initiative

American Institutes for Research is supporting the Technical Assistance team at the Center for Innovation in Postsecondary Education at the University of South Alabama in building the capacity of five HBCUs in North Carolina to serve black adult learners. AIR is helping the TA team build content via webinars about data use and data driven decision making and facilitating conversations about strategic goals and needs of campus staff and faculty to understand capacity needs. The goals of the project is to change policy and practices that support removing barriers for black adult learners to complete a postsecondary credential. 

October 2022
money and graduation cap

Modeling Costs to Inform Performance-Based Financing of Texas Community Colleges

The project seeks to determine the differential cost of providing an equal educational opportunity to community college students from different backgrounds to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board in order to support legislative policy debate surrounding reform of the public community college funding system in Texas. To determine the cost, the team at AIR is conducting a cost function analysis to estimate the cost of generating outcomes of community college students in Texas. 

October 2022
College student holding a backpack and books

The Edge: Two Shifts That Could Bolster Enrollment

This commentary from the Chronicle of Higher Education features remarks from AIR senior researcher Kelle Parsons on enrollment resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic among competency-based education programs.

June 2022
Students sitting in a lecture classroom

Four Ways to Scale Evidence-Based Strategies to Improve Postsecondary Education

During a meeting with senior U.S. Department of Education leaders, AIR's Irma Perez-Johnson and Alexandria Radford offered four ways to scale and use evidence-based strategies to improve postsecondary education outcomes for today’s students.

June 2022
Defense Research Capacity

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine Defense Research at Minority Institutions

AIR is conducting a consensus study on behalf of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s (NASEM) Committee on Defense Research at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Other Minority Institutions (MIs) that will examine the status of Department of Defense (DoD) research at HBCUs and other MIs. The goal of the study is to gain understanding of the methods and means necessary to advance research capacity at these institutions to comprehensively address the national security and defense needs of the United States.

June 2022
Graduation caps being thrown

Ascendium Rural Research Support Center

In 2022, Ascendium will launch an open Request for Proposals (RFP) aimed at addressing gaps in evidence for strategies that support rural learners from low-income backgrounds in earning degrees and credentials with labor market value. Through this RFP, Ascendium has committed funding for 8-10 projects, employing a diverse mix of research methods and subjects, that respond to one or more overarching research question themes. To optimize the design, implementation, and cross-project learning potential of this initiative, Ascendium awarded a grant to AIR to serve as an intermediary partner to support RFP design, grant management, and synthesis of insights across the funded multi-faceted research efforts.

May 2022
hands planning on a table

IPEDS Resource Page

AIR staff support the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), and recently we created a resource page on the IPEDS data collection and release process. The page also provides guidance for data reporters and users on issues related to survey components and web tools for data analyses.

March 2022
money with grad cap

Evaluation of the Texas House Bill 3 Financial Aid Application Requirement for High School Graduation

Through a grant with the Institute of Education Sciences, AIR's Lynn Mellor and Jason Lee are examining the implementation and outcomes associated with Texas’s enactment of a statewide policy requiring students to complete a financial aid application as a high school graduation requirement. The study aims to learn how districts are supporting students and parents regarding completing college financial aid applications and how this may lead to increased college enrollment for Texas high school students.

March 2022
man with grad cap

Investigating the Capacity of Historically Black Colleges and Universities to Develop, Accommodate, and Graduate Low-Income STEM Students

AIR has partnered with Quality Education for Minorities to expand effective strategies to support talented, low-income students pursuing science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) at historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs). For this new National Science Foundation-funded project, AIR's Jennifer Hudson and Mahlet Megra will lead mixed-methods research on the capacity of HBCUs to develop, accommodate, and graduate STEM students.

March 2022
Hands stacked

AIR Equity Initiative Roundtable- Building Bridges to Equity

On February 23, 2022 the AIR Equity Initiative hosted the second in a series of equity-focused roundtable discussions. A panel was followed by a Q&A with experts who explored approaches to reducing bias and promoting diversity and inclusion within organizations and in grant-making and policymaking processes. The experts and AIR staff discussed how these approaches can enhance research and technical assistance and improve policy.

February 2022