For Some Community College Classes, You Get Only One Shot

In an ongoing effort to tighten their financial belts, California Community College officials continue to limit the number of times students can take courses.

On Monday, the Board of Governors voted to approve a new set of rules that will prevent students from repeating “activity” courses, such as dance, art or music. The rule will go into effect in fall 2013.

Already, students will no longer be able to repeat academic classes indefinitely, like they used to. They will only be able to take required courses, such as English 1A, three times. Most importantly, dropping the course midway to receive a “W” rather than a bad grade — something students do to prevent their grade point average from dropping — will now be counted as a “repeat.”

“If we had to enforce it in the current list, I’d say a good 15 percent of our students would be affected,” said Mary Dominguez, vice president of student services at Hartnell College in Salinas. “This is a new ball game for everybody. It’s a huge regulation.”

Currently, students are allowed to take activity courses up to four times. The new rules will allow no repeats, unless classes are needed for a certificate, a degree or to transfer to a four-year university.

Community colleges will have the option to create a “community service class” that would be supported by fees.

Carsbia Anderson, vice president of student services at Monterey Peninsula College, said officials are not contemplating starting fee-based courses, but are thinking about developing curriculum that would address different levels of achievement in activity classes. (Read more.)

Via Claudia Melendez Salinas, Monterey County Herald.

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Report: California Schools Serving Socially Disadvantaged Students Send Too Few to College

The vast majority of California high schools that serve high numbers of low-income students and students of color do a poor job of sending their students on to college, a new report has found.

“The implications are pretty bad,” said Orville Jackson, senior research analyst at The Education Trust – West and lead author of the report, titled “Repairing the Pipeline: A Look at Gaps in California’s High School to College Transition.”

A major finding of the report is that college-going rates for African-American and Latino ninth-grade students lag behind the rates of White and Asian students by 20 to more than 30 percentage points. Fewer than half of such ninth-graders go to college upon graduation from high school or shortly thereafter, and the college-going rates for low-income students were just as low, the report found

“This is our population. It’s a growing population,” Jackson said of students of color in California. “We’re actually underserving the majority of our population in this state.”

Jackson said the situation portends trouble for the Golden State being able to meet its future workforce demands.

“We’re not preparing our students to meet our employment needs,” Jackson said. “So we’re going to have a workforce shortage.”

Jackson’s report compiled statistics that reveal what the report describes as a series of “breaks in the pipes.”

Those statistics include: … (Read more.)

Via Jamaal Abdul-Alim, Diverse Issues in Higher Education.

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‘Emerging Leaders,’ Mercy Education Project Program, Preps Young Girls For Future Success

From their home base on the second floor of the Commerce and Finance Building at University of Detroit Mercy, 33 sixth- to eighth-grade girls are learning the ins and outs of college life, exploring careers that might match their interests and personality, and seeing firsthand what real success and happiness looks like for educated women who have fulfilling, well-paying careers.

These young girls are part of Mercy Education Project’s Emerging Leaders program, a four-week program that runs for the entire month of July, helping girls who live in southwest Detroit learn about college and careers.

“Most of the girls in our program do not know people who have gone to college,” says Melanie Ward, director of the Girls’ Programs at Mercy Education Project and coordinator of Emerging Leaders.

She says that most of the girls have a lack of knowledge about college, how it can benefit them and what to expect. But after spending weeks on a college campus and visiting other campuses around the region, the fears quickly melt, and they become more knowledgeable about the choices they have.

“We visited a lot of colleges,” says Analisa Alvarez, 15, who attended the program last year. “It gave me a view that you can either go to a small college or to one that’s really big with a lot of people. It made me think about what kind of environment do I really want to be in. Do I want to be in small classrooms like I am today in high school or do I want to go to 200 or 400 student study halls?”

Before she attended the program, both she and her mother, Monica Alvarez, were mostly familiar with well-known state schools, like Michigan State University and University of Michigan. It was beneficial to them both to learn about other options, including Schoolcraft College, Eastern Michigan University, University of Detroit Mercy, and Oakland University. (Read more.)

Via Melinda Clynes, Huffington Post – Education.

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California Colleges Await Tax Vote

A tax measure on California’s November ballot could provide an extra $213 million to community colleges, making it possible to restore course sections to meet rising demand. If the measure fails,  colleges will have to cut $338 million, a 7.5 percent budget reduction.  The decision is “fairly monumental,” says Jonathan Lightman, executive director of the Faculty Association of California’s Community Colleges, in a Hechinger Report interview.

. . . colleges would be serving fewer students would have fewer course sections and would pare down their staff accordingly.

That’s fairly monumental at a time when the pressure on the community colleges to retrain an unemployed workforce is very high and when students who in an earlier era if they were eligible would never have thought about not going to the University of California, but today there is the issue about affordability in those systems.

Also, we still have demography issue. We have a higher percentage of 18-24 year-olds in the state than in other periods of history. And, we have the other issue of the demobilization of our troops from Iraq and Afghanistan that have come home and are seeking higher education opportunities to transition into the civilian economy. So, it’s created the perfect storm for demand for community college seats,

The measure “faces an uphill slog,” predicts the San Jose Mercury News. A rival tax increase on the ballot may split pro-tax voters.

Via Joanne Jacobs, Community College Spotlight.

You might also be interested in this article from Education Week, “California Districts Wary in Advance of Tax Vote.”

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Student Focus Groups Reveal Barriers to Community College Success

Getting through community college is a struggle for millions of students.

Balancing work and school is harder than many expected. Many arrive on campus surprised to learn they aren’t academically prepared. And, without a clear goal or needed guidance, more often than not, students don’t make it to the finish line.

To get at the heart of the college-completion challenge, researchers recently spoke directly with students—those currently enrolled in a community college, some who had completed a degree or certificate, and others who had dropped out. The resulting report, Student Voices on the Higher Education Pathway, is part of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’sPostsecondary Success Initiative, Completion by Design, in partnership with New York City-based Public Agenda and West Ed, a research and development agency.

The hope is that effective and sustainable solutions can be identified by keeping students’ voices and experiences at the center of reform plans, according to the report. The research that provided the information for it was conducted in March through 15 focus groups of 161 individuals ages 18-29. When asked about factors influencing their college decision, attitudes toward completion, experience with remedial classes, and institutional supports and barriers, five themes emerged: (Read more.)

Via Caralee Adams, Education Week.

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