Eight years ago administrators laying plans for Guttman Community College in New York City set a goal: This school would not be like so many other community colleges with low completion rates. Guttman would make getting students to graduation a primary mission. 

That approach is proliferating across the community college sector, says Melinda Mechur Karp, assistant director of the Community College Research Center at Teachers College, Columbia University. “There’s been a realization that if we really want to increase completion numbers, then we need to rethink how community colleges are organized and how reforms are done,” she says. “The big movement now is to rethink the entire structure of a college and the entire architecture of students’ experiences— restructuring how curricula are set up, redesigning how student supports are delivered, and not doing a pilot but doing it for everybody in the college all at once.”

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