CCCSE Report: Sweeping Change Imperative To Close Achievement Gaps

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By Paul Bradley

Community colleges must embrace sweeping and systemic change to close yawning, persistent achievement gaps between men of color and other student groups populating their campuses.

So concludes a special report released today by the Center for Community College Student Engagement (CCCSE), which urged colleges to resist tinkering at the edges of reform and instead bring successful strategies to scale so they help large numbers of students.

            “That’s at the center of our work,” said CCSSE Director Kay McClenney. “It’s not about fixing students. It’s about changing institutions. The solutions that we now have in place are just not up to the magnitude of the problem.”

            The report — titled “Aspirations to Achievement: Men of Color in Community Colleges” — is the product of two years of survey and analysis. It documents a huge gap between the achievement of black and Hispanic men and other student groups: Only five percent of black and Hispanic men attending community colleges earn a degree or certificate within three years. In contrast, 32 percent of white men attending community colleges earn a credential in the same time span. Only 30 percent of African Americans and 20 percent of Latinos aged 25 to 34 had attained an associate degree or higher compared to 49 percent for white Americans and 71 percent for Asian Americans.

“Consistently and unmistakably, data show a persistent gap separating Latinos and black males from other student groups on measures of academic progress and college completion,” the report says. “These gaps exist across higher education. They are undeniable and unacceptable.”

             The gaps persist despite the fact that black men are more engaged in their educations than are their white counterparts, defying a well-documented finding that deeper student engagement means better educational outcomes. Black male students are more likely to take part in high-impact practices like orientation, student success courses and learning communities. But that deeper engagement seems not to be making a difference in outcomes.

“For example,” the report says, “among black male students who report a C GPA, 39 percent say they never skip class. Among Latino students with the same self-reported GPA, 31 percent say they never skip class, and among white students who report the same GPA, only 24 percent say they never skip class. The black men are more engaged, but getting the same outcome.”

Part of the gap can be attributed to differences in college readiness, the report said. Only 14 percent of black males and 30 percent of Latinos meet ACT college-readiness standards in math, while 53 percent of white men do. Those gaps can’t be overcome even if black male student is more deeply engaged in his studies.

“If you are so far behind at the starting line and you’ve not had access to the skills and experiences you need to succeed, you can work harder and faster and you’d still be behind,” McClenney said.

“Grappling with these disparities is a task for virtually every community college,” she added. “Campus conversations must address three factors: substantially different levels of college readiness, the demonstrated effects of stereotype threat on performance in higher education, and continuing impacts of structural racism evident in systems throughout American society.”

In the report’s foreword, Walter G. Bumphus, president and CEO of the American Association of Community Colleges, said the achievement gaps have important implications for the country.

“America needs a highly educated population to strengthen our place in the world market, grow our economy, and engage in our democracy,” he wrote. “But we cannot have an educated workforce and citizenry if our current reality persists. Today, White students are earning college degrees at substantially higher rates than are both Black students and Latino students.”

“These trends combine to create a significant achievement gap between men of color and other student groups. Given our nation’s changing demographics — groups traditionally classified as minorities are growing more quickly than the white population — his gap not only affects individuals and their families; it threatens our country’s ability to thrive.”

The report gives colleges several strategies, including

Focus on practices which men of color themselves say are most important: fostering personal connections, setting high expectations and providing high-quality instructions from engaged faculty.

Disaggregate data to monitor outcomes from different ethnic groups.

Invest in systemic change that can bring so-called “boutique” programs to scale, such as intrusive advising and better academic support.

Redesign developmental education to provide better results more quickly.

Improve faculty and staff diversity as well as their cultural competence.

The report, along with an accompanying video, can be viewed and downloaded at http://www.cccse.org.

 

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Community College Leaders Skeptical of College Ratings

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By Paul Bradley, Editor, CCWeek

To say that community college leaders remain highly skeptical of President Obama’s proposal to rate colleges on a variety of measures and then tie those rankings to federal student aid would be an understatement.

            That was underscored earlier this month when the Obama Administration released hundreds of pages of formal comments on its proposed Postsecondary Institution Rating System — a plan to measure colleges on access, affordability and student outcomes.

            Leaders questioned the usefulness of such a system. They challenged the metrics now under consideration. And they said community colleges are too to fit easily into any ranking system.

            J. Noah Brown, president and CEO of the Association of Community College Trustees, urged the administration to keep in mind that community colleges have a mission that’s far different from those of their four-year brethren.

            “The vast majority of prospective community college students do not have the luxury or privilege of selecting various institutions to attend — much less one out of state — but instead are searching for affordable, high-quality, and specific programs of study near their home and work,” Brown wrote in his comments. “We hope that the Administration, which has been a strong supporter of community colleges, will remain mindful of the diverse array of higher education institutions and the students they serve. Access to affordable, quality higher education is fundamental to the community college model and remains a primary priority for ACCT and our member colleges.”

            Brown also questioned the utility of some of the metrics the administration is considering in measuring colleges – for example, the percentage of students receiving Pell Grants. That should be just one measure of a college’s commitment to helping low-income students, Brown said.

            “Nationwide, community colleges serve the largest number of Pell Grant recipients of any sector, and 36 percent of all Pell Grant students,” he wrote.Yet Pell Grant receipt is not the only measure of income diversity. Low-income community college students often do not fill out the FAFSA at all. Just 58 percent of Pell-eligible community college students apply for aid, compared to 77 percent of four-year students. Additionally, complicating the use of Pell status as a marker of student access, Congress has repeatedly restricted eligibility for the program for nontraditional students.”

            Brown also questioned plans to use student cohort default rates as a measure of a college’s effectiveness.

“While the usefulness of these numbers for prospective students and their families is debatable, cohort default rates are particularly inaccurate measures of student outcomes at community colleges,” he wrote. “Less than 17 percent of two-year public students borrow federal loans, meaning that the repayment choices of very few students can affect the default rate. Any forthcoming ratings should more prominently display the percentage of students who take out federal loans.”

            College leaders also questioned the plan to rate colleges based on the earnings of their graduates. Coy Grace, president of East Arkansas Community College, wrote that the diversity of colleges and their service areas defy such efforts.

                Since most community college students are place-bound, special attention must be given to the location of an institution,” Grace wrote. “Local community colleges have a far smaller and more limited pool of students from which to draw than larger universities and colleges. More so than universities, the student body of a community college is often almost exclusively made up of students from within a limited and defined geographic area. Ratings of community colleges are not useful or accurate unless they are drawn from data that reflect the particular challenges and needs of a community college’s service area.”

“What may be a reasonable goal for an institution in an economically robust community may not be a reasonable goal for an institution in an economically less robust community.”

In its comments, the American Council on Education, the umbrella group of education associations, made clear both its opposition to the plan and its resignation that such a ratings system is nonetheless coming.

            “We wish to be clear that as associations representing diverse higher education institutions, we do not support a rating system,” wrote ACE President Molly Corbett Broad. “However, because the department is gathering input on the construction of such a system, we consider it important to share the results of our conversations about its potential key elements.”

            Like Grace, Corbett Broad said the diversity of American higher education makes a one-size-fits all rating system problematic.

            “One central concern is that any federal rating system which evaluates colleges and universities based on a few quantifiable indicators will, in essence, treat all higher education institutions as if they were doing the same thing and educating identical student populations. The great diversity of institutional missions is widely and properly regarded as one of the great strengths of American higher education. But this diversityillustrated by the different missions of music conservatories, Talmudic schools, community colleges, Christian colleges and research universitiesmakes it exceptionally difficult to construct a single rating system as a proxy for ‘value’ that will work equally well for all schools. Many college and university leaders are skeptical that a single indicator can fairly sum up any institution without further narrative information and interpretation.”

            She also said the rankings could have unintended consequences.

            “Any rating system, regardless of who develops it, has the potential to create perverse incentives that will skew student and institutional behaviors. To cite but one example, a heavy reliance on graduation rates could all too easily undermine access by reducing the willingness of institutions to admit students with marginal qualifications.”

            The full set of public comments are available at http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketBrowser;rpp=25;po=0;dct=PS;D=ED-2013-IES-0151

 

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NACCE: Learning by Doing In the Spotlight

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There are plenty of ways to teach community college students entrepreneurial skills. You can use a textbook. You can bring in successful entrepreneurs to tell there stories. Internships are always a good idea.

            Or you can have students build their own business from scratch, from researching products to writing a business plan to building a website and taking charge of marketing and accounting.

            That’s what is happening at the State University of New York Ulster where students in two sections of Mindy Kole’s Principals of Entrepreneurship class are planning to launch a business on Nov. 21. It will be called Community Creations, a kiosk to be located in the school’s cafeteria from which students will peddle works from local artisans on a consignment basis.

            Kole outlined her learning by doing approach at the National Association of Community College Entrepreneurship conference under way in Charlotte, N.C.

            Kole, director of her college’s Pfeiffer Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, said she hopes empowering students to design and launch a business will result in meaningful learning — even though Community Creations will be part of the college, freeing it from some of the obstacles that would confront full-fledged startups.

            “They are not getting every single touchpoint they would get in a regular business, but they are learning a lot more than they would from a textbook,” she said.

            This kind of experiential learning has stressed time and again at the conference, which has drawn about 500 college leaders from around the country. Attendees have been told that learning-by-doing  can result in meaningful learning experiences.

In Kole’s class, split into two sections, students required to take part in the business launch. Their learning will be measured by a series of rubrics that Kole has developed, and their role in the business launch will make up a significant part of their grade.

Students are now in the final stages of starting the business. Kole said she’ll be relieved once the business gets off the ground.

“This is a scary big project,” she said. “I’ve lost a lot of sleep over this.”

 

 

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NACCE: Navigating New Educational Terrain

By Paul Bradley, Editor, Community College Week

Community colleges need to be more creative, more entrepreneurial than ever before. Today’s quickly changing higher educational landscape demands it.

            That was the message given loud and clear this morning to about 500 educators attending the annual conference of the National Association of Community College Entrepreneurship being held in Charlotte, N.C.

            Whether it’s shrinking public support, increased competition from for-profit colleges or the rise of technical innovations like MOOCs, community colleges face a landscape where competition is fierce and the status quo will no longer do.

            But breaking free can be difficult, said Matt Reed, vice president for academic affairs at Holyoke Community Colleges (Mass.). The hidebound traditions of the academy often conflict with the imperative to confront a new reality.

            “There is much more competition than there used to be,” he said, adding: “There are people who are invested in maintaining tradition, so that becomes a difficult balancing act.”

            In some respects, though, community colleges are well-placed to navigate this changing educational terrain, said Angeline Godwin, president of Patrick Henry Community College (Va.).

            “We have always been entrepreneurial,” she said. “We are the great American innovators and entrepreneurs. We just haven’t always had the courage to pronounce ourselves as such.”

            The theme of the conference is “Entrepreneurship: Fueling the Local Economic Engine,” a not-so-subtle reference to Charlotte’s prominent place in NASCAR racing. Educators from around the country expect to go back to their campuses with ideas for boosting their own local economies.”

 

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NACCE: Navigating Changing Education Terrain

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By Paul Bradley, Editor, Community College Week

Community colleges need to be more creative, more entrepreneurial than ever before. Today’s quickly changing higher educational landscape demands it.

            That was the message given loud and clear this morning to about 500 educators attending the annual conference of the National Association of Community College Entrepreneurship being held in Charlotte, N.C.

            Whether it’s shrinking public support, increased competition from for-profit colleges or the rise of technical innovations like MOOCs, community colleges face a landscape where competition is fierce and the status quo will no longer do.

            But breaking free can be difficult, said Matt Reed, vice president for academic affairs at Holyoke Community Colleges (Mass.). The hidebound traditions of the academy often conflict with the imperative to confront a new reality.

            “There is much more competition than there used to be,” he said, adding: “There are people who are invested in maintaining tradition, so that becomes a difficult balancing act.”

            In some respects, though, community colleges are well-placed to navigate this changing educational terrain, said Angeline Godwin, president of Patrick Henry Community College (Va.).

            “We have always been entrepreneurial,” she said. “We are the great American innovators and entrepreneurs. We just haven’t always had the courage to pronounce ourselves as such.”

            The theme of the conference is “Entrepreneurship: Fueling the Local Economic Engine,” a not-so-subtle reference to Charlotte’s prominent place in NASCAR racing. Educators from around the country expect to go back to their campuses with ideas for boosting their own local economies.”

 

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It’s a Tie: Walla Walla, Santa Barbara Share Aspen Prize

By Paul Bradley

Editor, CCWeek

WASHINGTON — Two West Coast community colleges with different missions but common goals share the second Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, the nation’s signature recognition of achievement and performance among the country’s  community colleges.

Walla Walla Community College (Wash.) and Santa Barbara City College (Calif.) were named co-winners of the prize, which comes with both a trophy and a check for $400,000.

“Santa Barbara City College and Walla Walla Community College offer outstanding models for achieving exceptional levels of student success at a time when our nation needs community colleges to do even more than they have in the past,” said Josh Wyner, executive director of the Aspen Institute’s College Excellence Program.

The colleges triumphed in a yearlong competition aimed at identifying promising educational practices that can be shared and scaled up across the country.

Nearly half of all college students attend community colleges, including large numbers of low-income and minority students. Community colleges enroll more than 13 million students, and the institutions are being called upon to boost graduation rates, improve the nation’s turgid recovery from the recession, even as government at all levels disinvest in higher education.

“Doing all of these things is hard work,” Wyner said. “And it’s getting more complicated every day.”

The two top colleges have distinct missions, but each focuses on student success and achievement.

Walla Walla Community College, a rural college in southeastern Washington with an enrollment of 8,635, focuses on training students for jobs and helping to drive growth in the regional job market. Of all the degrees and certificates it awards, 64 percent are in vocational/technical areas.

The college maintains strong relationships with employers to assess whether what students are learning is aligned to specific job needs. It adds new programs and trims others based on which programs will provide the best opportunity for employment and good wages, helping students obtain degrees that translate into genuine opportunity in areas from nursing to wine-making to wind energy. It has helped transform regional wine-making from a sleepy curiosity into an economic powerhouse.

“We learned how to partner,” said college President Steven L. VanAusdale. “That was so important.”

Santa Barbara City College’s primary focus is helping students transfer to four-year colleges. It’s a large, urban campus on the Pacific Coast, with more than 28,000 students enrolled. Just 24 percent of its degrees and certificates are awarded in technical fields.

The college boasts specialized support programs for historically under-achieving students. SBCC has a large and growing number of Hispanic students — more than  30   percent of the student body — who graduate and transfer at rates significantly above the national average.

SBCC has built a strong culture that consistently drives to improve student success, paying special attention to ensuring that courses and programs align to the academic standards of four-year schools. The result: well over half of the students who enter SBCC and transfer to four-year colleges attain a bachelor’s degree within six years of leaving high school.

College President Lori Gaskin said her college’s Aspen Prize is one shared by all community colleges.

“We are the institutions of second chances,” said college President Lori Gaskin. “We are the institutions of third opportunities. We are the institutions of hope and opportunity.”

The awards ceremony was held in downtown Washington at the Newseum, the media museum located on Pennsylvania Avenue a short distance from the U.S. Capitol and the White House. It was supposed to feature a speech by Second Lady Jill Biden, but she was a no-show. Organizers said the late-arriving Biden — herself a community college teacher — would meet in private with the prize winners and other eight finalists.

 

 

 

Posted in Achieving the Dream, Diversity in Higher Education, Funding Community Colleges, Minorities and Higher Education, Pathways to the Baccalaureate, Shared Governance, Two-Year Colleges, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

It’s All About Pell

WASHINGTON — Community college leaders will be trooping to Capitol Hill on Wednesday to chat with their elected representatives about the state of their institutions.

            And during the National Community College Legislative Summit, college trustees and presidents were given a clear talking point when buttonholing their favorite lawmaker: it’s all about Pell.

            “If you do nothing but talk about Pell Grants, that’s time well-spent,” said David Baime, senior president for government relations for the American Association of Community Colleges. “There is a great deal at stake for us.”

            Baime’s comments, made to more than 1,000 community college trustees and administrators, underscored what’s been indentified as the top federal funding priority for both the AACC and the Association of Community College Trustees – maintaining and improving Pell, the bedrock financial aid program which helps 3.35 million low- and moderate-income students pay for tuition, course material and living expenses.

            The summit, organized by the ACCT, fell on the same day that Steven G. Katsinas, director of the Education Policy Center at the University of Alabama, released a new study documenting how students in three southern states have been battered by 2012 changes in Pell eligibility.

            The study found that more than 5,000 students in Alabama, Arkansas and Mississippi lost Pell eligibility in fall 2012, and another 17,000 students will lose Pell eligibility in 2012-13. The study also found that 47 of 62 community colleges in the three states lost enrollment this year, and blamed decreases in Pell eligibility for the enrollment reductions.

Cost-cutting measures to Pell, enacted last summer, have disproportionately affected community college students. The changes reduced Pell eligibility from 18 semesters to 12 semesters; reduced to $23,000 the maximum annual income a family can earn for a student to be eligible for a full Pell grant; and barred students who do not have a GED or a high school diploma from receiving a Pell grant.

The AACC and the ACCT want to restore that eligibility, and U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., has written legislation that would clear the way for students in “career pathways” program to get Pell grants. But the same legislation would cut Pell eligibility for community college students enrolled entirely online precluding the students from receiving money for transportation or living expenses.

“This is a very negative provision for community college students,” Baime said.

The changes to Pell might have has their intended effect. A recent report by the Congressional Budget Office found that the Pell program will have a $9.2 billion surplus at the end of fiscal year 2013. Just last year, the CBO had forecast a $6 billion shortfall.

Still, community college officials face an uphill battle in persuading Congress to give colleges more financial support. Higher education is held in low esteem by both lawmakers and the public because of skyrocketing costs and poor graduation rates.

Other priorities for community colleges;

– Helping community colleges serve veterans and active-duty military.

– Passing the DREAM Act, providing a pathway to citizenship for thousands of undocumented students brought to the country as children.

– Reauthorizing and improving the Workforce Investment Act by insuring that community college are members of local workforce investment boards.

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10 States Debating Guns on Campus

Here’s a link to an interesting info-graphic on guns on campus: http://collegestats.org/articles/2012/06/10-states-debating-guns-on-campus/

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15 Colleges Earn $100,000 Grant from Walmart Foundation

             Fifteen community colleges will each receive a $100,000 grant from the Walmart Foundation to bolster faculty and staff engagement in student success efforts being promoted by the Achieving the Dream reform effort..

            Each college already has been designated a “leader colleges” by ATD, a national nonprofit group promoting non-governmental college reform aimed at improving community college student success. Leader Colleges are selected based on their commitment to and progress on four principles: committed leadership, use of evidence to improve programs and services, broad engagement, and systemic institutional improvement. They must also show three years of sustained improvement of student success.

            The grants are intended to get faculty and staff more involved in student success efforts.

“These 15 Achieving the Dream Leader Colleges have met high standards of practice and performance and are well-positioned to tackle one of the toughest community college reform challenges our nation is facing: engaging more full-time and adjunct faculty and staff in student success efforts,” said Rachel Singer, vice president of Achieving the Dream, Inc.

While community colleges have made significant strides in boosting student success rates, the proportion of faculty, including adjunct faculty, and student services personnel deeply engaged in the work is small compared to the total number of faculty and staff at the colleges. Moreover, reform work has yet to knock down the silos between academic departments and student services that limit vital collaboration, according to ATD.

Achieving the Dream Leader Colleges, known for their commitment to student-centered, evidence-based reforms were deemed a most ideal network of colleges for testing and expanding innovative faculty and staff engagement strategies. The 15 colleges were selected to receive a Walmart PRESS (Persistence, Retention, and Student Success) grant.

The grant will include a 27-month process during which the selected colleges will receive technical assistance and support from Achieving the Dream. In addition, each selected college has agreed to serve as a peer coach and be active in the learning community among the more than 175 colleges in the Achieving the Dream network.

The winning colleges are Aiken Technical College (Aiken, S.C.); Alamo Colleges, (San Antonio, Texas); Brazosport College (Lake Jackson, Texas); Community College of Beaver County (Monaca, Pa.); Cuyahoga Community College (Cleveland, Ohio); Durham Technical Community College (Durham, N.C.); Guilford Technical Community College (Jamestown, N.C.); Northampton Community College, (Bethlehem, Pa.); Northern Essex Community College (Haverhill, Mass.); Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College (Orangeburg, S.C.); Pulaski Technical College (North Little Rock, Ark.); Roxbury Community College (Boston, Mass.); Tallahassee Community College (Tallahassee, Fla.); Valencia College (Orlando, Fla.) and Yakima Valley Community College (Yakima, Wash.)

 

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League Steps Into NISOD Void

By Paul Bradley

The League for Innovation in the Community College is aggressively stepping into the void created by the uncertainty now surrounding the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development (NISOD).

The League, which since 1968 has promoted institutional change and improvement at community colleges through better use of technology, is expanding its focus to include two NISOD specialties. It will establish annual awards the recognizing community college faculty and staff, and establish an annual award honoring outstanding community college leaders.

League President Gerardo de los Santos said both initiatives will bear the name the John E. Roueche, who founded NISOD as an outreach affiliate of the Community College Leadership program at the University of Texas at Austin.

Roueche, 73, soon will retire as director of the CCLP, a post he has held for more than 40 years. But he is not staying idle. Instead, he’ll undertake an effort to found a similar doctoral program at the for-profit National American University under the mantle of NAU’s new Roueche Graduate Center. Roueche currently serves as chair of NAU’s community college advisory board.

But Roueche’s impending departure from UT — and the decision by university administrators to scrap the CCLP and fold it into a new Higher Education Leadership program — has thrown NISOD into a state of high anxiety and uncertainty. Many of the more than 1,200 people attending the 34th annual NISOD conference in Austin, Texas, earlier this week openly speculated that this NISOD conference could be the last.

NISOD, in fact, has been at the center of an acrimonious dispute between Roueche and his UT boss, School of Education Dean Manuel J. Justiz. Justiz’ move to divert about $2 million in NISOD funds into the school’s coffers led to a prolonged, bitter clash between the two men and ultimately prodded Roueche toward retirement.

NISOD sustains itself through a combination of grant money and member fees. Justiz’ plan does not directly tap that money, which could raise legal questions. Instead, it requires NISOD to pay a 15 percent “tax” on its annual expenditures — salaries, benefits, professional development and the like — in exchange for the right to operate at UT. When the tax plan first was imposed, it was made retroactive for five years, according to knowledgeable sources.

Draining NISOD resources has only exacerbated concern for its future.

The League’s decision to undertake the signature activities that characterized NISOD — the formal recognition of faculty, staff and exemplary college leaders — represents an aggressive challenge to NISOD and UT. It was no small irony that de los Santos made his announcement during the final day of the NISOD conference.

De los Santo said the League’s step is an effort to ensure that the efforts of community college faculty, staff and leaders will continue to be recognized even if NISOD withers.

“No one knows what will happen to NISOD,” he said. “We didn’t want these recognitions to fall by the wayside.”

The League plans to recognize outstanding community college faculty and staff through awards that will be named after Roueche and his wife, Sueanne D. Roueche. The award for outstanding community college leadership will named after John Roueche and Terry O’Banion, the League’s president emeritus.

“Since its founding, the League has offered community college educators and leaders a variety of opportunities for professional growth through conferences, publications, projects and awards,” O’Banion said. “These new offerings from the League are important additions to the community college field’s repertoire.”

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