Transfer and Completion

Graduation rates: ASAP

Among students with developmental need, percentage who earned a degree, by year

What Is Measured?

The percentage of students who earned a degree from any college, by year after start of study

Who Is Counted?

Students enrolled during spring 2010 or fall 2010 at three City University of New York (CUNY) community colleges who were in need of developmental education, among other eligibility requirements. Students were randomly assigned to either the ASAP group or the control group.

What It Tells Us

Fifteen percent of students who participated in ASAP earned a degree from any college two years after the start of the tracking period, whereas 9 percent of the control group earned a degree. After three years, the difference in graduation rates between participants and non-participants was even greater: 40 percent of ASAP participants earned a degree, while only 22 percent of the control group earned a degree.

Why It's Important

Most beginning community college students intend to earn a certificate or degree, although less than half do so even after six years. The institutional graduation rates reported by Integrated Postsecondary Educational Data System is the most well known indicator of graduation rates and perhaps of all indicators of community college student success overall. Because these statistics are reported annually according to a standard formula, they can be compared over time and across states and individual institutions. A major limitation of this indicator is that it only counts first-time, full-time students who begin in the fall, but most community college students initially enroll part time (often due to family or work responsibilities) and are not included. The prevalence of part-time enrollment as well as the high rate of participation in developmental education courses that do not count toward graduation requirements have led to other indicators of community college completion for periods as long as six years.

About the Data

The Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP) is a program operated by CUNY that is designed to help more students graduate and graduate more quickly, by providing them with student services, financial supports, and other services for up to three years. These data come from an evaluation study of the program conducted by MDRC. Students were randomly assigned to the program group or the control group in two cohorts: one just before the spring 2010 semester and one before the fall 2010 semester. Their outcomes were tracked for three years afterward.

The three CUNY community colleges included in the study were Borough of Manhattan Community College, Kingsborough Community College, and LaGuardia Community College.

Eligibility requirements for the study: students who had family income below 200 percent of the federal poverty level or were eligible for a Pell Grant (or both), needed one or two developmental courses (for math, reading, or writing), had previously earned 12 credits or fewer, were New York City residents, were willing to attend college full time, and were in an ASAP-eligible major.

ASAP requires treatment group students to attend college full time and encourages them to take developmental courses early and to graduate within three years. It also provides many other resources including advisement, career services, tutoring, linked courses, goal-setting and study skills, tuition waivers, MetroCards and use of textbooks.

Data Source

Scrivener, S., Weiss, M.J., Ratledge, A., Rudd, T., Sommo, C., and Fresques, H. (2015, February). Doubling Graduation Rates: Three-Year Effects of CUNY's Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP) for Developmental Education Students. New York: MDRC.