Community College Research Initiatives

Advancing Educational Access & Equity

The Community College Research Initiatives (CCRI) group conducts research on equitable college access, progression and transfer, degree completion, and employment in family living-wage careers for underserved students and diverse learner populations throughout the United States.

Learn more about current research on Transfer, New Baccalaureates, STEM, Coaching for ChangeTransformative Change Initiative (TCI), and Pathways. Read more in Publications for articles and reports from the CCRI team. Find out more about us through our mission and values and staff. Contact us.

Current Highlights

CCRI presenting at Jobs for the Future’s Postsecondary State Network Meeting, July 18-19, 2018, Fort Lauderdale, FL

Metrics, Money, and Systems Alignments: A Policy Agenda for Improving Student Success
Postsecondary State Policy Network, Jobs for the Future (JFF), July 18, 2018, 3:15 – 4:30pm, Fort Lauderdale, FL.
Panel presenters share their policy ideas, state examples and, opportunities and challenges in achieving policy change.
Grant Blume, University of Washington’s Evans School of Public Policy and Governance & CCRI-UW
Nate Johnson, Principal Consultant, Postsecondary Analytics, Nicole Washington, Higher Education Policy Advisor, David Altstadt, Associate Director, JFF
Evidence-Based Coaching for Change in the Student Success Center Network, Postsecondary State Policy Network, Jobs for the Future (JFF), July 19, 2018, 12:45pm to 2:00pm, Fort Lauderdale, FL
In this session, the CCRI team will discuss early learnings from the Student Success Center Network’s coaching work, from pilot projects to scaling evidence-based coaching for change.
Debra Bragg, Director; Katie Kovacich, Research Coordinator, and Lia Wetzstein, Research Scientist, Community College Research Initiatives, University of Washington

Data Note 4 in Series on Transfer Partnerships (HPTP)

Wetzstein, L. (2018, June). High-Performing Transfer Partnerships and Promising Practices (Transfer Partnerships Series, Data Note 4). Seattle, WA: Community College Research Initiatives, University of Washington.

Ready or Not? An Analysis of College and Career Readiness Emphasis in Every Student Succeeds Act State Plans

Friday, April 13, 4:05 to 5:35pm, New York Hilton Midtown, Second Floor, Gibson Suite
Don Hackmann, Joel Malin, & Debra Bragg

Abstract: This study examined the extent to which college and career readiness (CCR) is emphasized in ESSA state accountability plans using Critical Policy Analysis to study 52 plans (50 states, DC, Puerto Rico). Findings disclose most states identified CCR components as part of their school quality or student success indicators; however, few used ESSA to restructure their state initiatives to address persistent inequities.

How Curriculum Word Redefines Technical Faculty Roles in the Community College

Sunday, April 15, 10:35am to 12:05pm, New York Marriott Marquis, Fourth Floor, O’Neil
Debra Bragg

Abstract: This study examined the change in roles for faculty who received seed-funding grants to develop technical curriculum for their institutions and an NSF-funded regional center called the Center for Advanced Automotive Technology (CAAT). Results provide an in-depth look at how and what community college technical faculty who are persistently invisible in the higher education literature learned from the intensive seed-funding process that required they conduct research, design new courses, pilot instructional materials, and disseminate their work. <<Download handout>>

Data Note 3 in Series on Transfer Partnerships (HPTP)

Soler, M. C., Meza, E. A., & Bragg, D.D. (2018, March). Initial Research on Multi-Institutional Attendance Patterns and Racial Equity (Transfer Partnerships Series, Data Note 3). Seattle, WA: Community College Research Initiatives, University of Washington.

Community College Review – Sage Journal (@CCollegeReview)
Save the date! The #TransferMatters twitter chat is on March 26 at 1PM! Thanks to our CCR authors for participating: @CCRI_UW @jltaylo @meikled_john @XueliWang1 & @mehodara!

Debra Bragg, Director of CCRI, is leading the upcoming design lab at the Community College Baccalaureate Association (CCBA) conference in Washington DC on March 16-18, 2018.

The design lab addresses questions such as:  What are AB degrees? What forms do they take in community college and university settings? What roles should community colleges and universities play in implementing these degrees? How should the impact of AB degrees be evaluated? Read more>>

AB Design Lab: Building an Objective Business Case for Applied Baccalaureate Degrees

This session will focus on a new research collaboration that is focusing on filling gaps in what states and institutions need to know to build a successful business case for applied baccalaureate degrees. The session will focus on questions that need to be asked, data that need to be collected, and perspectives (favorable and unfavorable) that need to be addressed.

Debra Bragg, Director, Community College Research Initiatives, University of Washington; Mary Alice McCarthy, Director, Education and Skills, New America and Brian Durham, Deputy Director of Academic Affairs, Illinois Community College Board.

AB Design Lab: Evaluation and Continuous Improvement of Baccalaureate Degree Programs

This session presents information gathered through a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to evaluate implementation of AB degrees in STEM fields and the annual AB degree evaluation conducted by Washington State. Examples of evaluation methods and tools will be shared, with Q&A on how to proceed with meaningful evaluation approaches.

Maria Soler, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Melissa Cominole, Senior Research Associate, RTI International.

Community College Review – Sage Journal (@CCollegeReview)
Save the date! The #TransferMatters twitter chat is on March 26 at 1PM! Thanks to our CCR
authors for participating: @CCRI_UW @jltaylo @meikled_john @XueliWang1 & @mehodara!

New Data Note Series on Transfer Partnerships

Meza, E. A., Bragg, D.D., & Blume, G. (2018, February). Racial Equity in Transfer Partnerships (Transfer Partnerships Series, Data Note 2). Seattle, WA: Community College Research Initiatives, University of Washington.

Racial inequity is extensively documented in American education yet thus far research identifying the problem has had little impact on changing institutions and systems. Since Coleman’s (1966) seminal report on Equality of Educational Opportunity exposed systematic disparities between the achievement of White students and students of color, the ubiquity of racial disparities in American education that span from preschool enrollment to the attainment of doctoral degrees has been identified but has not resulted in needed change. Read more>>

Yeh, T.L. (2018, January). Introduction to the High-Performing Transfer Partnerships Study (Transfer Partnerships Series, Data Note 1). Seattle, WA: Community College Research Initiatives, University of Washington.

This document is the first in a new series of Data Notes that share research results from our High-Performing Transfer Partnerships (HPTP) study. Our inquiry process relies on a mixed-methods research design that includes student-level data from 15 states affiliated with the national initiative on reverse credit transfer called Credit When It’s Due (CWID). Read more>>


16th Annual Conference of NISTS, National Institute for the Study of Transfer Students, February 7-9, 2018 

The National Institute for the Study of Transfer Students (NISTS) exists to improve the lives of transfer students. Through research, education, and service, we support professionals who directly serve transfer students, as well as those who create transfer policy and conduct transfer-related research.

The CCRI team is presenting in three sessions:

Strategies to Increase Transfer Student Success via Reverse Transfer and Degree Reclamation (Transfer Policy, Current Research)

February 8, 2018, 8:30am – 9:30am, Plenary Session

States and institutions around the country have developed and implemented policies such as reverse transfer and degree reclamation that are intended to help transfer students and students with “some college, no degree” complete their degrees. This session will share lessons learned and best practices from both the Credit When It’s Due (CWID) initiative and Project Win-Win, which conferred over 20,000 associate’s degrees to students. The session will also discuss opportunities to scale degree reclamation strategies across institutions and states.

Transfer Matters: New Research on Transfer Types, Participation, Pathways, and Policy

February 8, 2018, 1:45pm – 2:45pm, Concurrent V, Salon G

This panel discussion will bring together editors and contributors of Community College Review’s recent special issue on transfer students. The idea for the special issue was born from a meeting held at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in 2016, where a group of scholars discussed the common and traditional set of policies and practices advanced to facilitate successful transfer: common core, course numbering, transferrable two-year degrees, and articulation agreements. What emerged was a discussion of new and innovative inquiry to advance understanding on transfer types, access and participation in transfer, effective pathways and partnerships, and transfer policy with the intent of informing future transfer student success efforts. Special issue editors and contributors will share insights from their work and engage in discussion with conference participants seeking to improve practice and/or advance their own scholarship on transfer students.

High-Performing Transfer Partnerships: Lessons Supporting Underserved Student Success

February 9, 2018, 8am – 9am, Concurrent VI, Salon I

Building on data gathered through the Credit When It’s Due (CWID) initiative, lessons learned about high-performing transfer partnerships in Colorado and Minnesota are discussed. In this session, the researchers will share information and strategies related to policies, practices, and culture that link community colleges and universities in ways that support higher than expected baccalaureate degree completion among underserved student populations.

Debra Bragg, Director, Lia Wetzstein, Research Scientist, Theresa Ling Yeh, Research Scientist
Community College Research Initiatives, University of Washington-Seattle 

CCRI presenting at ASHE 2017 – No Simple Solutions: Using Equity to Frame Research on High Performing Transfer Partnerships

Measuring Transfer Partnerships for Equitable Outcomes: Initial Findings from the Higher Performing Transfer Partnerships Study, Elizabeth Apple Meza

Chair, Alicia C. Dowd, Penn State University
Discussant, Estela Mara Bensimon, University of Southern California
Organizer, Debra Bragg, University of Washington

APPAM Conference Presentation

Debra Bragg presented at the Association of Public Policy Analysis and Management (APPAM) Annual Research Conference in Chicago, IL on November 4, 2017.  Learn More. The session is listed at:

Recent Publication – September 2017

Bragg, D. D. (2017). Transfer Matters: Forward to the Special Issue on Transfer. Community College Review, 45(4), 267-272. doi:10.1177/0091552117728572

CWID Data Note 10 published in latest issue of The SOURCE, vol. 7, issue 19

September 17, 2017 issue of The SOURCE (section on Transfer and Articulation) published by Matt S. Giani: CWID Data Note 10: The Correlates of Credit Loss. “Despite the longstanding centrality of student transfer in the United States’ postsecondary system and the presence of state-level policies regulating transfer in the majority of states, the loss of credits during transfer remains a significant issue.”

Transfer Partnerships

This study is focusing on how high performing transfer partnerships (HPTP) between 2- and 4-year colleges and universities (which may identify as partnerships) work on the ground. By high performing, we refer to institutional pairs whose underserved and aggregate student populations are achieving higher rates of success in baccalaureate retention and completion than institutional pairs with average or below average outcomes in these areas for underserved and aggregate student populations in the state.

University of Illinois Press Release

Recent publications by Dr. Debra Bragg, Director of CCRI, and her colleagues, Dr. Don Hackmann, Professor University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC); and Dr. Joel Malin, Assistant Professor, Miami University (Ohio), are featured on the UIUC College of Education’s website. See: The publications highlighted in this press release focus on new federal legislation and college and career readiness appearing in top education journals on research, policy and practice.