Publication Date

February 2002


[Excerpt] Within many large states there are multiple 2-year and 4-year institutions. In 1998-99, only 19 states had less than 15 public 2-year institutions. Of the 31 states with 15 or more public 2-year institutions, only 3 had 5 or fewer public 4-year institutions. State policymakers and system administrators should want to know how well each 2-year public institution is doing in preparing those of its students who transfer to public 4-year institutions in the state to successfully complete 4-year college study. Similarly, they should want to know how successful each 4-year college in the state is in graduating those students from 2-year colleges that transfer to it. This information could then be used either in summative evaluations that relate to resource allocation decisions, or more preferably, in formative evaluations in which knowledge of the best practices of the most successful institutions are transmitted to their sister institutions in the state. That is, the information could be used to help improve the performance of a state’s public higher education system.

Our paper uses data provided to us by the Office of Institutional Research of the State University of New York (SUNY) to illustrate a methodological approach that can be used to address these issues. While the methodology we develop is applied to data from the SUNY system, the paper’s main purpose is to illustrate the methodology because we the approach can be usefully employed in any state that has multiple public 2-year and 4-year institutions.

In the next section, we describe the SUNY system, discuss the data to which we have been granted access and sketch out our methodological approach. Empirical findings are provided in the following three sections and the sensitivity of our finding to the specific model estimated and sample of data used are examined. Section VI presents a discussion of the some of the conceptual and statistical limitations of our approach and the types of data that, if available, would improve the analyses.


Suggested Citation
Ehrenberg, R. G. and Smith, C. L. (2002). Within state transitions from 2-year to 4-year public institutions (CHERI Working Paper #22). Retrieved [insert date], from Cornell University, ILR School site:

Required Publisher Statement
Published by the Cornell Higher Education Research Institute, Cornell University.