A Short Guide to "Tipping Point" Analyses of Community College Student Labor
Market Outcomes (CCRC Research Tools No. 3)

By: Davis Jenkins - April 2008. CCRC Research Tools No. 3. New York:
Community College Research Center, Teachers College, Columbia University.

The "tipping point" refers to a study conducted by David Prince of the
Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC) and
Davis Jenkins of CCRC. Using transcript data on individual students
collected by the SBCTC, the study tracked the progress over five years of a
cohort of Washington State community and technical college students 25 or
older who entered the system with at most a high school diploma. Compared to
students who earned fewer than 10 credits, those who reached this "tipping
point" of at least two semesters of credits and a credential had a
considerable average annual earnings advantage: $7,000 for students who
started in ESL, $8,500 for those who started in ABE or GED, and $2,700 and
$1,700 for those who entered with at most a GED or high school diploma. 

The study found, however, that few students reach the tipping point, with
many adult basic skills students earning no college credits at all. This
finding motivated the SBCTC staff to explore with educators throughout the
system ways to increase the rate at which adult basic skills students
transition to college and reach the tipping point. One strategy developed in
response, called Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training, or I-BEST,
involves courses for basic skills students jointly taught by basic skills
and college-level occupational faculty. The SBCTC evaluated pilots of the
I-BEST programs and found that they substantially increase the rate at which
basic skills students advance to college and reach the tipping point.
Community college agencies in several states have since expressed interest
in conducting tipping point studies using data on their own students. This
document is intended to provide guidance on how to do that.


Abstract and link to 4-page pdf:


CCRC home page with links to Tipping Point and recent publications:


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