Research

Current Projects

  1. College Access and Success Assessment (CASA)
  2. How Colleges and Universities Organize Themselves to Promote Student Persistence: The Emerging National Picture
  3. Study of Community College Structures for Student Success (SCCSSS)
  4. Who We Are: An In-Depth Look at Enrollment Professionals, the Movement to Centralize Enrollment Systems, and External Influences on Our Practice
  5. Certificate Program for Leadership in Enrollment Management

College Access and Success Assessment (CASA)

CASA Overview

Overview

If the United States hopes to have an economically productive and engaged citizenry in the 21st century, its high schools must have the capacity to evaluate and enhance ongoing efforts to ensure students are encouraged and prepared for college and career success. The College Access and Success Assessment (CASA), developed by the USC Center for Enrollment Research, Policy, and Practice, meets this need by using a multi-pronged approach to measure each high school’s college-going culture using the following components:

1. Environmental: Assesses student awareness of school efforts to foster a college-going culture

2. Attitudinal: Assesses student attitudes regarding their perceived capacity to value, pursue, and complete a college degree

3. Behavioral: Measures the extent to which students are behaving in ways conducive to college-going and in ways that reflect college readiness

Benefits

CASA:

  • Is concise - Only one standard class session is required for high school seniors within a school to complete the CASA
  • Provides a data-driven barometer - Schools will observe short-term and long-term trends pertaining to the growth/decline of their college-going culture
  • Is empirically sound - Because the predictive values for elements within each survey component will be correlated with actual college-going and first-year college success/retention using a logistic regression, schools will have the capacity to effectively target their resources in ways that are statistically shown to enhance their college-going culture
  • Provides schools with a simple and valid accountability measure
  • Provides contextual data - Schools will be able to benchmark student perceptions of college-going culture with that of other schools, providing a contextual framework for ongoing efforts to enhance college-going culture
  • Includes expert guidance for improvement efforts – As part of the project, consulting scholars will help schools interpret their CASA scores and develop action plans for future improvements
  • Creates a peer network – School officials will meet annually to discuss CASA findings, discuss school reform efforts with one another, and share ideas for school improvement that are proving to be effective
2010 Pilot Project
  • Fresno Unified School District (CA)
  • Long Beach Unified School District (CA)

A pilot project of the College Access and Success Assessment (CASA) was started in 2010 and completed in 2011 for two urban school districts in California, surveying over 4,300 high school seniors. In October of 2011, the center presented to the superintendent and key staff of each district, providing detailed reports with a snapshot of each individual high school’s college-going culture, comparison to peer schools, and predictions of actual enrollment and retention rates in college, with identification of key areas for action.

The center garnered valuable feedback from our school partners on the administration of the survey process, survey areas for further refinement, and the outcomes that were most useful for direct practice and improvement. Most importantly, both districts involved in the pilot study affirmed that CASA helped evaluate and will inform the success of ongoing efforts to more effectively target resources in ways to foster a stronger college-going culture.

2013 Full Launch

Following the success of the pilot project, the center is now ready to scale up the College Access and Success Assessment (CASA) project on a national level, involving at least ten school districts for a total of 100 schools. In preparation for the launch in January of 2013, the center will remain engaged in refining the survey instrument, seeking commitments from school partners, and securing funding with government and foundation grants. Implementing CASA on a wider scale will provide schools the data and interpretation to transform their college going culture and have real and lasting implications for the future success of our nation.

Seeking School/District Partners to Implement CASA in 2013

We are pleased that the following school districts are committed to the scaling up phase of the CASA project:

  • Alliance College-Ready Public Schools
  • Clovis Unified School District
  • Fresno Unified School District
  • Garden Grove Unified School District
  • Long Beach Unified School District
  • Los Angeles Unified School District

If you belong to a local education agency (school district or high school) that would be interested in implementing CASA in April 2013, please contact Emily Chung, the center’s program director, at (213) 740-7401 or by e-mail.


How Colleges and Universities Organize Themselves to Promote Student Persistence: The Emerging National Picture

College Board Study on Student Retention

In collaboration with the College Board and the Project on Academic Success at Indiana University, the USC Center for Enrollment Research, Policy, and Practice is conducting research that examines how, and to what depth, colleges and universities organize themselves to promote student persistence and graduation rates.  In 2009, the research team administered the College Board Survey of Institutional Retention Practices to over 1,400 four-year institutions nationwide.  Data and findings from this study focus on the structures institutions have in place to enhance student persistence, as well as early alert practices and other approaches institutions use in planning and assessing retention efforts. The report on four-year colleges and universities is available here.


Study of Community College Structures for Student Success (SCCSSS)

Informed by existing theory and research on student success, the four-year project is being used as a model and a springboard for a systematic approach to understanding institutional policies and practices that affect student persistence at two-year schools in 2011. In collaboration with the College Board and the Project on Academic Success at Indiana University, the USC Center for Enrollment Research, Policy, and Practice conducted a national survey of community college administrators on community college structures and policies that enhance student persistence, transfer and completion that was completed in 2011. The report, Securing the Future: Retention Models in Community Colleges, includes the results of the survey and a guide of promising practices for community college leaders and practitioners.


Who We Are: An In-Depth Look at Enrollment Professionals, the Movement to Centralize Enrollment Systems, and External Influences on Our Practice

This qualitative study with over fifty chief enrollment and chief admissions officers within a diverse national group of colleges and universities explores the educational and professional backgrounds of enrollment professionals, as well as the groups that inform their practice.  It also assesses, from a structural standpoint, motivations for and against the centralization of enrollment systems, and the pros and cons of various enrollment models in place.  By analyzing findings from interviews with a variety of enrollment and admission officers located throughout the United States, this study enhances our collective knowledge of enrollment professionals, their external influences, and organizational models that can profoundly influence how institutions of higher education serve students and society.  Numerous presentations are available on the center’s website and a series of articles are slated for publication.

“Who We Are: An In-Depth Look at the Educational Backgrounds, Career Paths, and Development Needs of Chief Admission Officers and Enrollment Managers” is available in the Spring 2011 issue of the Journal of College Admission  or as a downloadable PDF.

Read “Enrollment Management, Inc.: External Influences on Our Practice.”

“What Enrollment Management Structures Reveal about Institutional Priorities” is available in the Enrollment Management Journal Winter 2011 issue here.


Certificate Program for Leadership in Enrollment Management

Following the center’s in-depth study of enrollment professionals in 2009-2010, the center is nearing completion of developing a certificate program that will cultivate the next generation of leaders and managers in admissions and enrollment managers. Current and aspiring deans, directors, vice provosts and vice presidents will enhance their knowledge, hone their skills, develop a professional network, and form a deeper understanding of the philosophy and methodology of enrollment management within the institutional and national contexts.


Past Sponsored Projects

Due to a shift in priorities, CERPP no longer sponsors research or provides grants. For more information on past grantees in 2008-2009, please visit the links below.

2008 Research Grant Recipients

2009 Research Grant Recipients