Community College Reforms Headed to Governor

California’s community colleges began the fall term this week on a low note, having slashed course offerings in response to severe funding cuts and with thousands of students on waiting lists for classes.

But the system received a dose of good news Thursday when a bill aimed at improving graduation and transfer rates was approved by the state Legislature.

The bill, SB 1456 and known as the Student Success Act of 2012, was approved in the Senate by a vote of 36 to 1 after having passed the Assembly on Tuesday by a unanimous vote. It is now headed to the governor’s desk.

The bill was authored by state Sen. Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach).

If signed into law, it would initiate a number of significant reforms for the two-year college system.

These include:

— providing students with orientation, assessment, placement and counseling services;

— requiring students to identify an educational goal, such as a degree or a certificate for transfer to a four-year university;

— requiring students who qualify for a Board of Governors fee waiver to make satisfactory academic progress, and

— mandating campuses that receive student support service funds post scorecards with completion rates for all students and progress in closing achievement gaps among ethnic groups.

Via Carla Rivera, The Los Angeles Times.

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California Legislature Approves a Bill to Help Community-College Students Succeed

As California’s crowded community colleges struggle to serve some 2.4 million students amiddevastating budget cuts, the State Legislature on Thursday approved a bill designed to help students stay on track toward completing a degree or transfer certificate, the Los Angeles Times reported.

If signed into law, the bill, known as the Student Success Act of 2012 (SB 1456), would put in place a number of policy reforms affecting students and campuses. Among other things, campuses would provide more orientation and counseling services, and students would be required to identify their educational goals.

Jack Scott, departing chancellor of the 112-campus community-college system, said the policy changes in the bill would “put more students on the path to completing their educational goals” and make the state more competitive economically.

Mr. Scott, a former legislator who is retiring as chancellor on September 1, will soon be stepping back into a classroom himself. Claremont Graduate University announced on Thursday that Mr. Scott would serve as a scholar in residence at its School of Educational Studies in the new academic year, working with students, giving public lectures, and helping launch a certificate program for community-college professionals.

Via Charles Huckabee, The Chronicle of Higher Ed.

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Texas Completes Ready For Next Phase of Completion Plan

​A group of five community colleges in Texas will soon start implementing a statewide student success and credential completion effort called Texas Completes.

The group last week announced its initial action plan and strategy to improve the Texas community college completion rate based on findings from its first year. It will focus on implementing the following initiatives as a first step in the effort to create a unified student pathway to success:

  • Revise the curriculum to quickly get students into programs of study, streamline time to degree and facilitate transfer to four-year institutions.
  • Create a comprehensive student advising and management system that ensures students a strong start and consistent feedback along each step of their way through college.
  • Restructure developmental education to reduce time spent in pre-collegiate coursework.

With its planning phase funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation under the former initiative Texas Completion by Design, the new Texas Completes initiative will move ahead with the financial support of state and regional funders. (Other two-year colleges selected to participate in the national Completion by Design program are in Florida, North Carolina and Ohio.)

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Redesign, Reinvent, and Reset

Community colleges must “redesign, reinvent and reset” themselves, concludes Reclaiming the American Dream, a report for the American Association of Community Colleges by the the 21st-Century Commission on the Future of Community Colleges. “We need to completely reimagine community colleges for today and the future,” said Dr. Walter G. Bumphus, AACC’s president and CEO.

The dream is at risk, the report warns.

What we find today are student success rates that are unacceptably low, employment preparation that is inadequately connected to job market needs, and disconnects in transitions between high schools, community colleges, and baccalaureate institutions. Community colleges, historically underfunded, also have been financed in ways that encourage enrollment growth, though frequently without adequately  supporting that growth, and largely without incentives for promoting student success.

Community colleges must make “hard choices” about priorities and the most effective use of limited resources, the report concludes. While community colleges should remain open to all, the mission must be expanded to include success as well as access.

Access without support for student success is an empty promise. If the door is to remain open, virtually everything else must change.

“Community colleges are not funded at a level permitting them to perform the monumental tasks expected of them,” the report finds. However, it’s not likely that will change, so colleges must “make better use of the resources they have.”  Funding must be linked to measures of success in addition to enrollment.

The report calls for increasing completion rates by 50 percent by 2020, working with high schools to reduce by half the number of unprepared student, doubling success rates for developmental students and focusing career and technical education on the 21st-century workplace. In addition, it urges community colleges to redefine their mission, mobilize private and public support and “implement policies and practices that promote rigor, transparency, and accountability for results.”

AACC will establish the 21stCentury Center to help colleges with strategic planning, leadership development and research to reach the goals.

Via Joanne Jacobs,  Community College Spotlight.

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Pathways to Completion

From Bob Hawkes, Director of Workforce Development, Kern Community College District:

The attached article came to my attention recently and I wanted to pass it on to you.  The author, Terry O’Banion was the president of the League of Innovation for 23 years and nationally recognized as a strong advocate for community colleges, an innovator who is not afraid to make bold suggestions for improvement.  The national trend for valuing completion over access has come to California and he offers a solid agenda for reaching our regional goals.  As he states at the end of the second page, “Failure is not an option.”  I urge you to read what he has to say, digest it and be prepared to discuss it at our next collaborative meeting on October 13.  Regards,  Bob

Via Terry O’Banion, Community College Journal.

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