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Community college system outlines goals for student success

Posted: August 27, 2014 4:28 p.m.
Updated: August 27, 2014 4:28 p.m.

California community college system officials outlined lofty goals Wednesday to markedly increase the number of students who successfully complete a community college program.

Officials announced the goal of producing 227,247 more students who earn certificates, degrees or transfer to four-year institutions over the next decade.

“This is the time of year when thousands of students begin their college educations at our campuses,” said Community Colleges Chancellor Brice W. Harris in a statement Wednesday.

“We are making a commitment to incoming freshmen that more of them will graduate, transfer or complete career technical programs.”

Currently, the California community college system serves about 2.1 million students per year.

Meeting the college system’s announced goals means that completion rate for degree- and transfer-seeking students at community colleges statewide would have to be increased from roughly 48.1 percent to around 62.8 percent.

The completion rate for students in career technical education programs would also have to increase — from 53.9 percent to 70.3 percent, according to officials.

“Over the past two years, the Board of Governors has adopted comprehensive policy changes designed to help more students complete their educational goals on time,” said Manuel Baca, president of the California Community Colleges Board of Governors Wednesday. “These changes are now being implemented, and by setting these system-wide goals we are signaling that we expect improved outcomes that can be quantified.”

Some of those include easing the process of transferring to a four-year institution and working with K-12 schools to make sure students are prepared to take college-level courses when they arrive on campus, according to officials.

It’s also important to make sure students have the resources necessary to get through any remedial courses they may need, Harris said.

Harris said reaching the overall goals in a community college system as large as California’s means each individual district will play a large role in determining how best to ensure the success of its own students.

“In a state as diverse as ours, we do not want to bind districts to a one-size-fits-all approach to improving completion, but we do expect all districts will thoughtfully develop local targets to help more students achieve their educational goals and collectively move our state forward,” Harris said.

The announcement of the community college system’s goals comes shortly after the state Legislature passed Senate Bill 850, which would establish a pilot program that would enable some community colleges to create a baccalaureate degree program.

The sponsor of that bill, Sen. Marty Block, D-San Diego, said part of the motivation for the legislation was to increase the number of college graduates statewide.

By 2025, he said, California “will need 1 million more adults with four-year degrees.”

“We need to use all of California’s resources — including our community colleges — to close that gap,” he said in a statement.
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