Accountability Measures for Community College Student Success


The Alabama Community College System (ACCS) has adopted metrics developed by the American Association of Community Colleges as part of the Voluntary Framework of Accountability (VFA). The Voluntary Framework of Accountability is the first comprehensive national accountability system created by community colleges, for community colleges. VFA metrics more adequately measure how well two-year institutions fulfill their unique missions by including part-time students and career/technical students who comprise a significant percentage of their student populations. All ACCS institutions collect and report data on student progress and outcomes to VFA annually and use the results of the VFA analysis of that data for self-assessment and comparison to peer institutions across the country.

ACCS is reporting the results for VFA metrics using the main VFA cohort, which is defined as “All students who entered the institution for the first time post high school completion and are enrolled in credit or developmental education classes in the fall term.”   For each metric, data was disaggregated for race, gender, and financial need (as measured by Pell eligibility). Click on the links to view graphs of the data.

  1. Credit Hour Attainment: Students are more likely to graduate on time (within two years) if they earn 30 or more credit hours within each year. This report shows the percent of students who earn 15-23 credits, 24-29 credits, or 30+ credits in the first academic year (fall, spring, and summer terms).

    1.1. Credit Hour Attainment by Race,      1.2. Credit Hour Attainment by Gender,       1.3. Credit Hour Attainment by Pell Status

  2. Students Still Enrolled in Year Two: Retention is an important metric indicating that a student is persisting toward their certificate or degree. The rates of students still enrolled in year two reflects the percent of students who did not receive any award or transfer out and who were enrolled at the same college at any time within the second academic year. These rates are shown on this report.

    2.1. Students Still Enrolled by Race,        2.2. Students Still Enrolled by Gender,       2.3. Students Still Enrolled by Pell Status

  3. Outcome Success Rates: Two-year colleges serve the State with different purposes. One primary purpose is to help students gain general education competencies to prepare them to successfully transfer to a four-year institution. Another primary purpose is to prepare students with credentials to enter the workforce in high-skilled positions. Therefore, it is important to consider students who complete their programs, students who transfer to four-year institutions, and students who are retained from fall to fall as students who succeed. Outcome success rates shown on this report include completers, students retained, and transfer students.

    3.1. Outcome Success Rates by Race,     3.2. Outcome Success Rates by Gender,     3.3. Outcome Success Rates by Pell Status

  4. Six-Year Graduation Rates: Since community colleges serve a high number of non-traditional students (e.g. part-time students, older students, etc.), it might take longer than the traditional two years for a student to reach graduation. This report shows the six-year graduation rate, which measures the percent of students in the cohort who receive any award (short-term certificate, certificate, or associate level) within six full academic years (fall, spring, and summer terms).

    4.1. Six-Year Grad Rates by Race,           4.2. Six-Year Grad Rates by Gender,           4.3. Six-Year Grad Rates by Pell Status

  5. Number of Awards:To meet the increasing workforce demands in Alabama, it is important that students have flexible avenues to earn credentials to prepare them to join the workforce. Community college students gain workforce preparedness skills by completing short-term certificates, long certificates, or associate degrees. These two sets of reports show information in two ways: a) the number of students in a cohort who received an award within six years, and b) the number of awards, by type, earned by those students within six years.