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January 2012
What's Happening

Washington State Board project – IHELP Executive Director Nancy Shulock and IHELP Faculty Associate Mary Kirlin are conducting in-person and phone interviews with education and policy leaders in Washington State as part of a case study of the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC). The purpose of the study, sponsored by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is to learn about the key developments, strategies, and factors that have led to the effectiveness of the Board as a coordinating agency over locally governed colleges and to produce information that can be useful to other states that seek to improve the effectiveness of postsecondary education in serving students and meeting state needs. 

IHELP Presents at UC/ACCORD Convening – IHELP Director Nancy Shulock gave an invited presentation and served as a discussant at the UC/ACCORD’s “Pathways to Postsecondary Success” convening at the University of California, San Diego. The UC “Pathways” project is studying the institutional “indicators” of student success in community colleges, building on its indicators work for K-12. The goal is to learn about and highlight conditions at colleges that are related to promoting student success. Nancy’s presentation covered IHELP’s recent and current work on community college career technical education programs and how it relates to the college completion agenda. Click here to view the presentation.

NEW Jobs for the Future report – IHELP, in partnership with Jobs for the Future (JFF), will publish a new report that examines student progress through high-value career programs in community colleges. IHELP analyzed data from Florida and New York to learn about patterns of student enrollment, persistence through intermediate milestones, and success in high-value CTE certificate and degree programs.

A Call for Input on CTE Policy Issues - IHELP researchers are continuing to focus on CTE in the California Community Colleges with the ultimate goal of understanding how state policy can best support the operation and effectiveness of the CTE mission. This involves learning how current policies may present barriers to more effective implementation of CTE programs. This research is motivated by the supposition that many of the policies that affect CTE operation were designed primarily with the academic transfer mission in mind and may not work as well for CTE faculty, staff, or students or for employers. IHELP researchers are eager to learn from CTE educators around the state and are scheduling phone calls, site visits, and meetings. If you would like to give us your thoughts, please contact us at ihelp@csus.edu.

Features This Month

Career Opportunities: Career Technical Education and the College Completion Agenda – Part 1: Structure and Funding of Career Technical Education in the California Community Colleges

IHELP’s newest report is the first in a four-part series on career technical education in the California Community Colleges. The project, funded by The James Irvine Foundation, is aimed at identifying ways that state and system policy can best support California’s community colleges in operating CTE programs that meet the needs of their students and regions. In this first report, researchers describe the complex organizational structure and funding arrangements for the CTE mission and the closely related economic and workforce development mission. Researchers also offer a set of criteria, based on a literature review, that characterize an effective CTE mission and identify five key issues that will need to be addressed as efforts proceed to increase the effectiveness of CTE in the California Community Colleges.

View the report

In case you missed it - Sense of Direction: The Importance of Helping Community College Students Select and Enter a Program of Study

This brief is excerpted from the IHELP report and examines the importance of declaring and entering an academic program of study for community college student success and completion.  Researchers studied an entering cohort of more than 430,000 community college students and followed their progress over a six-year period through programs of study to completion of a certificate, associate degree or transfer to a university. The study used student course patterns to identify those who entered a program of study in 21 program areas across the liberal arts and sciences and career technical education. Researchers found that entering a program of study is an important milestone on the path to college completion that only half of entering community colleges students reach, and that students who enter a program of study in their first year are twice as likely to complete a certificate, degree, or transfer as those who enter a program of study in the second year or later. This finding is of particular relevance in view of the Student Success Task Force recommendation to encourage students to declare programs of study early in their college careers and develop education plans that will help them complete the programs that they enter.

View the brief

Spotlight On

Our Point of View - California Community College Student Success Task Force Recommendations

The Board of Governors recently endorsed the recommendations of the Student Success Task Force to increase certificate, degree completion, and transfer through a coordinated set of historic reforms. These recommendations reflect the national research consensus about how best to help students who have been disadvantaged by a variety of circumstances, leaving them vulnerable to falling out of the educational system as it has historically functioned. Those who oppose the recommendations do so out of concern that the community college system – reoriented around success as envisioned by the plan – will turn its back on vulnerable populations. To the contrary, the college completion agenda is predicated on irrefutable evidence from across the country that unless postsecondary institutions do a better job helping vulnerable populations earn credentials of value, this country and its communities will face a dismal future – economically and socially. Those findings have spawned intensified research, experimentation, and innovation particularly about serving vulnerable populations who enter community colleges with few educational, social, and financial resources. Traditional college programs, services, and institutional cultures are not geared to helping these growing populations of students succeed.  Reorienting community colleges across the nation to better serve such students has been the steadfast goal of research and practice for the last decade. Thousands of such students fall out of the system every semester. They deserve better and they stand to get it if the community college system succeeds in implementing its plan.

Click here to view the Student Success Task Force recommendations.

Sacramento State Institute For Higher Education Leadership & Policy

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