A comparative study of african american and white students success rates at community colleges that have embraced guided pathways


Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



This quantitative comparative study examined whether there was a significant difference in success rates between African American and White students at community colleges that have embraced guided pathways. Two Midwest American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) Pathways Project colleges participated in this study. AACC Pathways Project is a national project dedicated to improving student success rates by assisting colleges in building the capacity to design and implement guided pathways on a large scale (AACC, 2019). Four key performance indicators (KPIs) were examined in this study: 1) students earning six or more college credits in the first term, 2) completion of gateway math and English in the first year, 3) persistence from fall to spring, and 4) college-level course completion rates in the student's first academic year. This study used secondary data to examine differences in success rates between African American and White students. The research design was based on a non-experimental quantitative design using de-identified student unit-level data from two Midwest AACC Pathways Project community colleges. The population in this study was the first-time college student cohort for those students who were enrolled for the first time in college for the fall 2017, 2018, and 2019 terms at community colleges in the AACC Pathways Project. The sample included students enrolled in two Midwest community colleges affiliated with the AACC Pathways Project. To determine significant differences in KPIs 1-3 by race, the researcher used Pearson's Chi-Square statistical test in R statistical programming. To determine significant differences in KPI 4 by race, the researcher used a Welch two-sample t-test. The results from the study showed that White students performed statistically significantly better than African American students on all KPIs except for persistence from fall to spring for academic years 2018 and 2019 at both colleges. Even though the African American students had a lower percentage of persisting in 2018 and 2019 than the White students, who had a higher percentage of persisting, both groups performed about the same with the number of students from each cohort within this KPI for years 2018 and 2019. Conducting this study assisted in knowing if guided pathways impacted student success outcomes of African American learners.



Guided Pathways, African American students, key performance indicators, early momentum metrics, community college

Graduation Month



Doctor of Education


Department of Educational Leadership

Major Professor

Major Professor Not Listed