Press Release

Pew Report Evaluates the Community College of Philadelphia

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PHILADELPHIA—A new report from The Pew Charitable Trusts examines the Community College of Philadelphia (CCP) and its effectiveness in helping Philadelphians attain higher education and marketable job skills.

The study, Assessing the Community College of Philadelphia: Student Outcomes and Improvement Strategies, compares the college with three sets of similar institutions nationwide based on data from 2008 to 2013. It also includes insights from the school’s leaders and local and national higher education experts.

Relative to comparable institutions, the analysis found that CCP has had mixed success in recent years. It produced 1,993 graduates in the 2013–14 academic year, the highest number since its founding 50 years ago. Overall, however, the college’s students earned associate and bachelor’s degrees (from other institutions) at rates that were about average or below average. At the same time, CCP’s tuition was far above the median price of similar schools and was higher than every other community college in the Philadelphia region.

Among the report’s other key findings: 

  • The six-year graduation rate for associate degrees at CCP, 17.5 percent, is slightly below the average of comparable schools. But African-American and Asian students are slightly more likely to graduate from CCP than from similar institutions.
  • CCP students are less likely than those at comparable schools to earn bachelor’s degrees at other institutions, with a transfer success rate of just over 10 percent within six years of starting at the college.
  • Like other public colleges, CCP has faced flat or declining taxpayer support in recent years. Its students are more likely than others to receive federal Pell Grants. But they are also more likely to take out loans and face debt.
  • Nearly 70 percent of new CCP students must take remedial courses, a percentage not uncommon at comparable colleges. But students at CCP are more likely to finish their remedial coursework than are their counterparts at other institutions, although they are less likely to graduate than their better-prepared classmates.
  • The college has a mixed record on workforce development and training for local workers and employers. Since the Great Recession, Philadelphia firms reduced their use of CCP’s corporate and contract training offerings to a larger extent than did firms at other Pennsylvania colleges.

CCP has undertaken a variety of improvement initiatives over the years, including those in areas in which it has lagged some other colleges, according to the report. Among the initiatives on which the school is now focused: hiring more advisers, lessening the choice of electives in its academic curricula, and making workforce development a top priority.

“The Community College of Philadelphia is well-positioned to make higher education accessible to the city’s residents,” said Thomas Ginsberg, project manager of Pew’s Philadelphia research initiative and author of the report. “Because it enrolls the highest number of Philadelphians seeking college degrees, the city’s residents, workers, and employers have a lot riding on the school’s success.”

For more information and to download the complete report, visit www.pewtrusts.org/philaresearch

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The Pew Charitable Trusts is driven by the power of knowledge to solve today’s most challenging problems. Pew’s Philadelphia research initiative provides timely, impartial research and analysis on key issues facing Philadelphia for the benefit of the city’s citizens and leaders. Learn more at www.pewtrusts.org/philaresearch.

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Elizabeth Lowe

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