Its Own Standard: Approaches to Quality in Community College Noncredit Workforce Evaluation
An estimated 5 million students enroll in noncredit courses and programs at community and technical colleges each year. This report, co-authored by Katherine Hughes, the CTE Research Network director and principal investigator, examines how colleges and their programs define and promote quality in their noncredit offerings across several potential elements of quality design. Community colleges are a major source of non-degree credentials (NDCs) through their noncredit workforce education offerings, such as certificates, certifications, licenses, badges, and micro-credentials. Ensuring the quality of NDC offerings is essential to promoting equity because such offerings disproportionately appeal to economically disadvantaged students. Understanding how institutions approach the issues of quality and equity in tandem with labor market–related issues is essential to understanding how noncredit education can serve as a bridge or barrier to equity.
This study found that indicators of noncredit program quality include local and regional labor market alignment, curricula and instruction that prepare students with necessary job skills, instructors with significant work experience using the credentials they teach, and sufficient funding and resources to make programs accessible.
This report is one of a series from the Rutgers Education and Employment Research Center. Other publications in the series include the following: