College Excellence Program
College Excellence Program
How the Winner is Chosen
From over 1,000 to 150 based on national data. In the first round of the selection process, the Aspen Institute convenes a Data Metrics Advisory Panel (Data Panel), which works with the National Center for Education Management Systems (NCHEMS) to develop a model for selecting 150 public two-year institutions (out of over 1,000 potential candidates) around the country that demonstrate the highest levels of performance on metrics in three key areas: (1) student success in persistence, degrees awarded, completion, and transfer; (2) consistent improvement in these areas over time; and (3) equitable outcomes for students of all racial/ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds. Final adjustments were made to the model to ensure that the top 150 colleges represent the full range of diversity and richness in the sector, from vocational to technical mission, small to large in size, and commitment to high levels of access and success for low-income and minority students.
The model was developed using publicly available data from the National Center for Education Statistics’ Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System and the U.S. Census Bureau.To learn more about these metrics, please see the Round I model description. You can also download the 2015 Round I data here.
From 150 to 10 finalists based on institutional data and practice. In round two, the Aspen Institute invites the 150 eligible institutions to submit an application describing what they have done to improve student success on their campus. Multiple data sets and descriptive information are examined to assess performance levels and improvements in learning, graduation, workforce, and equitable outcomes. To reduce burden on the field, data definitions are aligned as much as possible with other reporting systems, including AACC’s Voluntary Framework of Accountability.
Aspen convenes a Finalist Selection Committee of former community college presidents, respected researchers, and policy experts, to review the applications and select 10 institutions that deliver exceptional student outcomes in the following four areas:
From 10 finalists to one winner and up to four finalists-with-distinction. In round three, teams of experienced researchers and practitioners conduct two-day site visits to each of the finalist institutions to gather qualitative information. During the site visits, teams collect evidence – through interviews with leadership, staff, faculty, students, community partners, and others – about how excellence was achieved in completion, labor market, learning, and equitable outcomes.
In addition to the information collected during the site visits, the Aspen Institute gathers three additional datasets in round three:
A full analysis of quantitative and qualitative data collected throughout the Prize process is provided to a Prize Jury of prominent former elected officials, national business and civic leaders, and education experts, who review the information and select a winner and up to four finalists-with-distinction. Information on student outcomes is presented alongside the context in which each institution operates. Specifically: