ACCELERATING SUCCESS: Turning Insights into Action for Foster Youth at California Community Colleges

Report Overview

Accelerating Success: Turning Insights into Action for Foster Youth at California Community Colleges, a new report released by Educational Results Partnership and California College Pathways, offers actionable insights for colleges and policy-makers seeking to improve foster youth student outcomes. The report also identifies bright spots (colleges that had better than expected outcomes for foster youth) and highlights some promising approaches in the community college system that are contributing to student success.

Using a combination of quantitative analysis, surveys, and qualitative interviews, the report provides educators and administrators with a snapshot of the current state of foster youth in community colleges, as well as efforts to address disparities. The quantitative analysis draws on the Cal-PASS Plus system of data, managed through a partnership between ERP and San Joaquin Delta College.

Key Findings

  • Educational outcomes vary widely among foster youth of different ethnic backgrounds, with Asian foster youth outperforming African American, Latino, and White students on most measures. African American foster youth, who make up one in five foster youth in California community colleges, had some of the poorest outcomes of any ethnic group.
  • A student’s high school experience plays a key role in determining success in community college. The fewer high schools attended, the greater the chances foster youth had of persisting from term to term. Earning a standard high school diploma (as opposed to a GED or having no diploma) also increases the likelihood of persistence.
  • Algorithms were used to identify pathways through which foster youth complete a degree, certificate, or transfer to a four-year university. Students who attempted any math and English course in the first two years of college were more likely to complete a college credential than students who did not.
  • An exploratory analysis examined the impact of institutional and program factors on completion of 30 units within an academic year, a key predictor of completing a degree or transfer. Colleges that had dedicated computer facilities for foster youth, an early warning system for academic challenges, and served a high proportion of foster youth students in dedicated programs had better outcomes.

Funders and Partners

The report was made possible through the support of several partners who provided funding and/or expertise, including:

  • John Burton Advocates for Youth
  • Stuart Foundation
  • May and Stanley Smith Charitable Trust
  • Marcled Foundation

The research was supported by key partners that established a foundation for data collection and use among California Community Colleges and Universities and the Foster Youth data dashboard on Cal-PASS Plus:

  • Walter S. Johnson Foundation
  • Pritzker Foster Care Initiative

Cal-PASS Plus, funded by the California Community College Chancellor’s Office, is managed through a partnership between San Joaquin Delta College and ERP.


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