Does eliminating community college courses impact degree completion? Evidence from California during the Great Recession
Oded Gurantz

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship

Award Year



University of Missouri

Primary Discipline

Educational Policy
Fiscal pressures forced California's community colleges to eliminate over 20% of all courses between 2008 and 2012, locking students out exactly when postsecondary education was in highest demand. This study examines how dramatic changes in course availability impacted long-term degree completion and major choice. California provides a unique opportunity to study this issue due to variation in course-cutting behaviors across more than 110 colleges, in-depth public data that identifies which courses were cut and how many degrees were earned, and private College Board data tracking hundreds of thousands of students from high school into college that can identify who was most impacted. My primary approach are fixed effects models that use within-college, across-department changes in courses offered to estimate the impacts of course-cutting on major-specific degree completion. I will also describe what predicts variation in overall course-cutting behaviors across community colleges, delving into community college funding formulas and other idiosyncratic decisions to develop essentially "randomized"? instruments for further causal estimation. This broad study of higher education's structure helps develop our knowledge of how colleges shift resources during economic downturns and the resulting consequences, giving us the opportunity to predict and potentially correct problems that will arise during the next recession.
About Oded Gurantz
Oded Gurantz is an Assistant Professor in the Truman School of Public Affairs at the University of Missouri. Previously, Oded was an Institute of Education Sciences Fellow in the Stanford Graduate School of Education and worked as an Associate Policy Research Scientist at the College Board. His research focuses on gaps in college enrollment and completion between students from historically underserved groups and their more privileged peers, and has been published in some of the leading economic, policy, and education journals. With a background in economics and education policy, he uses quantitative research methods, primarily quasi-experimental and experimental designs, to examine programs and policies that are both effective and efficient in ameliorating educational disparities. A key component of Oded?s research agenda is the development of long-term, collaborative partnerships with educational and government agencies. This approach helps his findings address not just theoretical questions in the literature, but ensures that the results are relevant to current public policy debates and well-positioned to lead to actionable change.

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