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March 2010
What's Happening

IHELP Invited to Present Testimony to California Legislature Joint Committee on the Master Plan for Higher Educatione
- IHELP Director Nancy Shulock testified at two recent hearings of the Joint Committee on the Master Plan for Higher Education at the State Capitol. The hearings were the fourth and fifth in a series to review the California Master Plan for Higher Education since its inception 50 years ago. The fourth hearing, held on March 10, 2010, focused on eligibility, admissions, articulation and coordination. Nancy’s testimony focused on strengthening the transfer process as an example of the need for better and more effective coordination in California’s public higher education system. The fifth hearing, on March 22, 2010, focused on accountability. Nancy emphasized the difference between state-level accountability and institutional accountability and urged the members to adopt state-level accountability tied to a public agenda for higher education. The sixth and final committee hearing is scheduled for April 7, 2010 and will concentrate on financing higher education. Click the links below to view the presentations.
Principles for Effective Coordination - the Case of Community College Transfer (3/10/10)
Principles for Effective Statewide Accountability (3/22/10)


IHELP Speaks to California Community College League Commission on the Future - IHELP Director Nancy Shulock was invited to speak at the first meeting of the League Commission on the Future in Sacramento on February 26 – 27, 2010. The 33-member commission, focused on improving student success, access and completion, is scheduled to meet twice more this year. Nancy’s presentation titled "From Access to Success in the California Community Colleges: Questioning Assumptions and Establishing Principles," centered on the findings in the Institute’s five-part report series on community college student success. To view the report series, click here.

Feature This Month

Student Flow Analysis: CSU Student Progress Toward Graduation

California State University recently announced a new graduation initiative to increase graduation rates from 46 percent to their goal of 54 percent and help more underserved students complete college. This initiative follows CSU’s participation in a one-year planning grant as part of Lumina Foundation’s Making Opportunity Affordable initiative and reflects an increased national priority to improve productivity and student successs. As part of the Lumina grant, CSU contracted with IHELP to study the 23-campus system’s efforts to improve graduation rates pursuant to their 2003 “Campus Actions to Facilitate Graduation” initiative, analyze systemwide data on student progress toward degrees, and make recommendations for future steps.

In undertaking this project for the CSU, IHELP researchers drew on their previous work on student success in the California Community Colleges (CCC) in which they analyzed student patterns of progress towards completion.  By analyzing progress in reaching various “milestones” along the way to program or degree completion, the intent is to help institutions and policymakers understand where best to direct efforts to improve student progress and success. The recent IHELP report titled Steps to Success analyzes intermediate outcomes of community college students and the academic and enrollment patterns that increase the likelihood of student success. While the CSU Chancellor’s Office does not collect the detailed, transcript-level data that was used in the analysis of CCC data, it is nevertheless important to provide as detailed a picture as possible of student progress along a set of milestones. The following linked excerpt of the IHELP report to the CSU shows the analysis of student progress to provide the CSU with an understanding of the challenges they need to overcome to increase graduation rates.  The report also indicates how various CSU actions to increase graduation can affect student progress along different parts of the college pathway.
View the report.

In case you missed it - Pathways to Success: Lessons from the Literature on Career Technical Education

IHELP’s newest report is part of a project supported by a grant from The James Irvine Foundation to identify policies and practices that could increase student success in certain career pathways through the California community colleges. This literature review analyzes evidence on the effectiveness of career-oriented education in high schools and community colleges and discusses the factors that promote successful educational outcomes for students enrolled in career-technical programs.
View the report.


Spotlight On

Transfer - The community college transfer process is moving up on the policy agenda – in California and elsewhere.  State policy leaders everywhere are faced with strapped budgets for higher education and the imperative to enroll and graduate increasing numbers of students.  These two trends combine to put a premium on the transfer process for two reasons.  First, many of the students whose success rates states most need and want to improve begin in community colleges.  Second, effective transfer provides the basis for improving productivity.  It reduces unnecessary coursework for transfer students, increases capacity, and lowers the cost of degrees for both students and taxpayers.  Yet transfer is far from effective in most states, as evidenced by low transfer rates and excessive time and money expended by students to navigate complex sets of requirements.   The mismatch between state needs and transfer outcomes may provide the opportunity for the kinds of significant reforms that are hard to accomplish in the absence of crisis. 

Transfer policy has always raised the delicate balance between statewide consistency and institutional autonomy.  A report published by IHELP in August 2009, titled “Crafting a More Student-Centered Transfer Process: Lessons from other States,” concludes that the balance must shift towards more statewide consistency if states are to better serve today’s students and meet tomorrow’s workforce needs.  Rather than seek to better communicate complex transfer processes to students and counselors, the report argues that streamlined processes should be adopted, including associate degrees for transfer in specific major fields that guarantee junior status in the major.  Many states are moving in the direction of more statewide consistency.  In California, the prospects of major statewide reform seem better than ever, with work ongoing at high levels across the three segments of higher education and in the legislature, where there are several bills concerning transfer.  The issue has not been lost on the media, judging by some recent press: Los Angeles Times, Sacramento Bee.

For more information on recent transfer bills that are in the current legislative session, please select the links below.

AB 440 (Beall)                        AB 2203 (Solorio)                   AB 2302 (Fong)
SB 1126 (Liu)                         SB 1440 (Padilla)

Sacramento State Institute For Higher Education Leadership & Policy

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