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April 2012

A Follow Up to the National Colloquium:

RE imagining Community Colleges Reflective Essays


April 2012

Dear Community College Presidents:

Last September, I asked Eduardo Martí, Vice Chancellor for community colleges at The City University of New York, to invite community college leaders from across the country to come together in order to explore bold and innovative initiatives to enhance completion rates at community colleges. The resulting colloquium, “Re-Imagining Community Colleges,” drew 200 participants from 26 states who engaged in vigorous dialogue about the challenges and opportunities currently facing a sector that educates almost half of all college students in the country. Many participants expressed a desire to continue the constructive conversations initiated at the colloquium. I am delighted that several have extended the dialogue through reflective essays written as a follow-up to the September discussion. Their thoughtful considerations expand our thinking about the mission of community college education and the current emphasis on accelerating and improving degree completion. I extend sincere thanks to Vice Chancellor Martí and all of the contributors for their efforts to advance the work of our community colleges through this valuable compilation of essays. I look forward to our continued dialogue.

Best regards,

Matthew Goldstein


A Follow Up to the National Colloquium:

RE imagining Community Colleges Reflective Essays

CONTENTS 2 RECIPES for success 7 The Challenge of Measuring Community College Students 13 Problem Solving 17 Challenges Facing Community Colleges 28 The New Community College 36 Do we have the courage needed? 40 Quality and an Open Door 44 Measuring Student Success 51 Fostering support for Female Community College Students 55 Libraries and ROI in Higher Education 58 Neuroscience + Technology is the right Math path 1

RECIPES for success

Reimagining Community Colleges Colloquium: A Recipe for Success Eduardo J. Martí, PHD, Vice Chancellor for Community Colleges, CUNY, NY, NY


merican Higher Education has always been conflicted between the egalitarian principles required by the need to have an educated citizenry, the need to develop an effective, well-educated workforce and the selectivity required by the Academy to cull those who do not have the educational background, the initiative or the ability to benefit from the rigorous pursuit of the advancement of knowledge. The debate has continued for over a Century and the first two years of post-secondary education have always been acknowledged as having the potential to contribute to the solution of this quagmire. Today, global competition and the need for a more competitive workforce led to President Obama’s American Graduation Initiative of producing 5 million more college graduates in the next decade. This is an ambitious goal and one way to fulfill this goal is to re-imagine community colleges. From the beginning, two year colleges were addressing the needs of students who needed an education that was different from the traditional, university education. During the latter part of the 19th Century, presidents of Brown, Michigan, Georgia, and Minnesota, proposed solutions to the need to separate general education from more advanced studies; to provide practical education for those who were not in pursuit of scholarly activities and who were, in general, less prepared or disposed for a career of inquiry and research.i Finally, in 1901 William Harper Rainey, president of University of Chicago and J. Scott Brown, superintendent of schools in Illinois founded Joliet Junior College. Joliet added the 13th and 14th grade. Upon completion, those who were admitted at the University of Chicago were given advanced standing; those who were not, were awarded the “gentlemen’s way out” or the Associates Degree. It seems that, periodically, crises arise that focus attention on community colleges. After WWII, the returning veterans, with GI Bills on hand, strained the ranks of the colleges and universities. The universities balked at the prospect of all those individuals armed with GI Bills who were, in many cases, underprepared for academic life, landing on the doorstep of the Ivory Towers and demanding their rightful place in the Academy. This prompted President Truman to establish the 1947 President’s Commission on Higher Educationii Again, the attention was focused on community colleges. The Commission recognized that community colleges could serve as repositories, as way stations, for returning Veterans so as to prepare them for the rigor of a senior college education or for the world of work; thus, relieving the universities of this arduous task. Community colleges could solve the problem of resolving a vexing dichotomy between the need for open access for the returning Veterans and the requirement of the universities to maintain high standards through selectivity. Many Veterans benefited from the services of community colleges; it was their way into the university. The country benefited because it elevated the educational attainment of its population even for those


RECIPES for success

who did not transfer to the senior colleges. Community colleges also provided a societal cushion against the strain caused by the influx of millions of men returning to civilian life armed with the GI Bill. Also it helped to alleviate pressure to claim the jobs that had been occupied by many brave women. It provided time for adjustment to the different requirements of a nation at peace. Another seismic change that placed attention on community colleges was the Higher Education Act of 1965iii This Act, part of the Great Society Program of President Lyndon Johnson removed the economic barrier for all and made higher education truly accessible. This Act and the subsequent Pell grants facilitated the financing of higher education for millions of students. It expanded access to post-secondary education to those who had long been denied this privilege. Members of ethnic minorities heretofore kept away due to the economic barriers now rushed to take advantage of this opportunity. Again, community colleges served as safe places for this influx of new students. Open access helped but it did not solve the underlying problem. The dreams of underprepared students who cannot meet the rigor of the curriculum were shattered by the realities of the academy. It became clear that unless extraordinary support was provided unrealistic expectations were not able to be met. While enrollments soared, graduation rates plummeted. The system, for the most part, was simply not geared nor was it funded to provide the needed level of individualized support. The open door became a revolving door. For over 25 years community colleges have tried to ensure the preservation of access while maintaining high standards. As a result, community colleges have become excellent teaching institutions. Community colleges are adept at remediating educational deficiencies. However, even with the many individual success stories, the high cost of remediation and the low graduation rate at the community colleges has prompted much discussion on this topic. Should high schools allow students who are not prepared for the rigor of college-level work to graduate? Should the door be closed to those who are underprepared? The debate continues. The current economic crisis has again placed the spotlight on this sector of post-secondary education. Following President Obama’s call for 5 million more graduates by 2020, others called for similar goals. The College Board iv called for 55 percent of young adults receiving a postsecondary credential by 2025. The Lumina Foundation along with founding partners such as the American Association of Community Colleges, the Community College Leadership Program at the University of Texas-Austin, Community College Research Center, Teachers College, Columbia University, Jobs for the Future, MDC, MDRC, and Public Agenda, conceived a national initiative, Achieving the Dream v, that has radically impacted over 150 community colleges. The Gates Foundation allocated $35 million to fund the Completion by Design vi initiative to improve graduation rates at the community colleges. Increasing graduation rates is a national imperative. However, the issue is complex. vii How can colleges that admit anyone who has completed a high school diploma or received a GED be able to have a graduation rate that is similar to that of institutions who have admissions policies that select students with high probability of success? We must reimagine community colleges. I believe that to dramatically impact the graduation rate at community colleges we must recognize that the art and science of teaching is our overarching discipline. We must understand that successful community colleges do not follow the baccalaureate-granting institutional model. Successful community colleges place the student at the center; successful community colleges consider students’ failure as their own failure. It is not the place to have students demonstrate what they can do; it is the place that motivates students to perform at the capacity that they do not believe is possible. Community colleges transform lives because they provide a safe place in which to learn.


RECIPES for success

Community colleges must: 1. C  larify academic goals. Our students need a great deal of help clarifying their expectations and creating opportunities that are consonant with their educational preparation and personal situation. To that end, the ideal community college must provide individualized intake procedures for each first-time student. S  tudents should be required to spend one or two days at the college prior to admission. During this time, a battery of basic skills exams, aptitude exams and individualized consultation with a trained professional should take place. The result would be a “My Academic Plan� (MAP) that would guide the student throughout the college experience. This is important because many of the students who attend our colleges have had a bad experience in high school and come to us with low self-esteem. Others come to us after being out of high school for a period of time and need assistance in understanding the academic maze. Still others have had a bad experience at another post-secondary institution and need a safe place to regain their bearing. Of course, there is a population of students who are clear about their goals and come to us because of convenience or because of cost. To expect all students to fit the same pattern is folly. Many of our students are in an at-risk population that needs intense academic intervention. Effective student support services are an imperative for the necessary development of each student. 2. P  rovide Intensive Acculturation to College: The Freshman experience is difficult for even for students who are very well prepared. Community colleges must recognize that the freshman class is composed of students with many different levels of understanding of the college experience. Some require no help; others need to be told even the basic things, such as purchasing textbooks. A thorough orientation to college life is imperative for success. 3. S  egment the freshman class into cohorts. It works! Students who come to a community college need to identify with a group. Many come with different understandings of what is required of them; many, especially the adult students, will not ask questions. Creating Learning Communities or Academies or similar grouping enhances the chances of success. Many colleges recognize the value of this approach. At CUNY we have successfully implemented the Accelerated Studies in Associate Programs (ASAP)viii ASAP is designed to help motivated community college students earn their degrees as quickly as possible, with a goal of graduating at least 50% of students within three years. Key ASAP program features include a consolidated block schedule, cohorts by major, small class size, required full-time study, comprehensive advisement, and career development services. Financial incentives include tuition waivers for financial aid eligible students and free use of textbooks and monthly Metrocards for all students. As of September 2010, CUNY ASAP has surpassed its original graduation target and helped 623 students, or 55% of its original Fall 2007 cohort of 1,132 students, earn an associate’s degrees within three years. A comparison group of similar CUNY community college students had a 3-year graduation rate of 24.7%. The ASAP graduation rate is more than three times the national 3-year graduation rate of 16% for urban community colleges.ix, x 4. S  egment remedial programs: Some have posited that students who score close to the demarcation between needing remediation and not, do as well when placed in college level courses.xi Perhaps, what we need to do is to create an intensive remedial program for those who place very low on the remedial scale and, forthrightly, let them know that they are not ready for college level work. We must protect these students from using their financial aid while engaged in these immersion programs. CUNY is experimenting with a methodology, CUNY Startxii,


RECIPES for success

that defers admission to a community college for this type of student and provides an intensive experience (25 hours per week) at a very low cost to the student ($75 per semester). Preliminary results seem very encouraging. 5. C  ontinuous Reinforcement: At-risk students become discouraged easily. Every victory is important. So, we must celebrate the first semester. A letter from the Dean; a phone call from a counselor; anything that will tell the student—you are on your way! All this contributes to retention. At the end of 30 credits, there should be minigraduation. A cohort coming together and celebrating this milestone could go a long way to helping the student overcome the life problems that sometimes forces them to drop out. Just as important as the academic and support services are for success, we must realize that above all our colleges are teaching institutions. As stated above, our overarching discipline is pedagogy. Our administrators should support faculty research in the observational and experimental aspects of pedagogy. This research should be recognized for promotion and tenure. The faculty should engage in this important work. We should publish our findings; we should recognize that this very complex problem is one that is of national importance as Chancellor Goldstein indicated in his opening remarks at the National Colloquium. Our time has come. Now that we have been able to garner the attention of the public, now that we have been able to attract major funders, now that close to one-half of all undergraduates are attending our colleges, we must face the responsibility of success. We must clearly carve out the post-secondary arena this important sector. We must re-imagine community colleges.


RECIPES for success

References Somerville, J. A. (2005). The shaping of the American community college mission. Community College Moment, spring 2005, 7-13


Higher Education for Democracy: A Report of the President’s Commission on Higher Education. Vol. 1, Establishing the Goals (New York, 1947), pp. 1-3, 5-8, 25-29, 32-39, 47-49.


PL 89-329 P.L. 89-329, Higher Education Act of 1965 (Slip law)


The College Board’s National Completion Agenda (2009) Setting a goal of 55% graduation rate by 2025. Retrieved from:


Funded by Lumina Foundation and seven partner organizations, this initiative is dedicated to closing the achievement gap at over 150 community colleges. Retrieved from:


A national project funded by The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is dedicated to increasing community college completion rates by working closely with community colleges around critical junctures.


Bryk, A, Gomez, L.M., and Grunow, A. (2011) Getting Ideas into Action: Building Networked Improvement Communities In Education. Retrieved from:


 UNY’s Accelerated Study in Associate Programs: A program designed to motivate community college to graduate 50% of C participants in three years. Retrieved from:


Overview of CUNY’s Accelerated Study in Associate Programs. Retrieved from:


Report on success rates of CUNY’s Accelerated Study in Associate Programs. Retrieved from:


Jenkins, D., Speroni,C., Belfield, C., Smith Jaggars, S. , and Edgecombe. N. (2010) Model for Accelerating Academic Success of Community College Remedial English Students: Is the Accelerated Learning Program (ALP) Effective and Affordable? (CCRC Working Paper No. 21) Retrieved from:



 UNY Start, Strong Start. A program to address the needs of CUNY-bound students whose reading, writing and Math scores on C the CUNY Assessment Tests are low. Retrieved from:


The Challenge of Measuring Community College Students

The Challenge of Measuring Community College Student Success Stephen J. Handel, PHD, Executive Director of the National Office of Community College Initiatives at the College Board Ronald A. Williams, PHD, Vice President, The College Board, NY, NY

Abstract This essay reviews issues surrounding the measurement of student progress and success in community colleges. It also describes a new initiative, developed by the College Board and MPR Associates, which is designed to serve as a comprehensive framework to examine and assess community college students’ progress. Titled The Completion Arch, this web-based-resource will collect all publicly-available metrics relating to community college student progress and make these data available to educators, policymakers and others who are working to advance student success. By pooling these metrics, The Completion Arch will help users identify similarities and differences in the ways that states, initiatives, and regions measure data related to the progress of their community college students. The Completion Arch will also stress the multiple missions of community colleges by presenting metrics that encompass the entire community college student experience, from enrollment to college completion to career readiness.

The Challenge of Measuring Community College Student Success Stephen J. Handel and Ronald A. Williams “It is no exaggeration to say that if community colleges did not exist, the U.S. would have to find other ways to educate most of the men and women who put out fires, fight crime, expand firms, and care for the sick and elderly. America, as we know it, is inconceivable without the contributions of community colleges.” National Commission on Community Colleges (2008)


t the opening session of last September’s National Colloquium on Community Colleges, CUNY Chancellor Goldstein warned participants that, “If we don’t reimagine community college education, and convince the marketplace of its tremendous value to our future, our country’s entrepreneurial capacity and its educated workforce—that is, our social and economic front line—will be seriously compromised.” The subsequent deliberations that day revealed near universal concurrence regarding the astonishing productivity of community colleges. Colloquium attendees and other national leaders, including President Obama, believe that community colleges are central to this nation’s efforts to ensure a lasting recovery and to regain our competitive edge globally (Bailey, 2011). Still, while there is an emerging consensus about the pivotal role that community colleges must play in meeting the nation’s need for more certificate and degree-holders, documenting this role to the satisfaction of legislators 7

The Challenge of Measuring Community College Students

and policymakers is more complex. One of the reasons is the broad mission of community colleges. As popular as community colleges are, groups or individuals are often unfamiliar with the extraordinary variety of students that attend these institutions and the extensive educational goals they bring with them. Recently, the Texas Association of Business sponsored a billboard criticizing the low student completion rate at Alamo Community College (“4% of ACC students graduate in 3 years. Is that a good use of tax $?”) (Hamilton, 2011). Alamo’s president, Richard Rhodes responded that the business group did not understand why students come to community colleges: “People really have to understand the metrics and the data behind the metrics. There’s a much larger story when we think about community college students and what their intent is and why they came here” (Jaschik, 2011). This is only the most recent example of the need for community college leaders to communicate more effectively the role of their institutions in helping students advance educationally; and, more importantly, to highlight those metrics that fairly and accurately portray the productivity of their institutions and the students they serve. Traditionally, community colleges have been linked to the metrics of four-year institutions, such as persistence and graduation rates. Although such measures are important, they do not tell the full story of the community college mission. The ways in which these metrics are defined and calculated do a disservice to community colleges because they often fail to account for a variety of non-traditional students who attend these institutions. For example, data collected by the U.S. Department of Education as part of its Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), only tracks the progress of full-time, first-time college students (Cook and Pullaro, 2010). Yet nearly two-thirds of all community college students attend part time (American Association of Community Colleges, 2012). The importance of community colleges in helping to meet this nation’s ambitious college completion goals, coupled with the complex mission of these institutions, requires that community college leaders have access to reliable and accurate metrics that describe the productivity of these institutions and the students they serve. That is the impetus for a new national initiative, The Completion Arch: Measuring Community College Student Success. Conceived and developed by the College Board’s Advocacy and Policy Center and MPR Associates, The Completion Arch is a comprehensive framework to examine and assess community college students’ progress. Through a single web-based-resource, all publicly-available metrics relating to community college student progress will be available, aiding educators, policymakers and others who are working to advance student success. By pooling these metrics, The Completion Arch will help users identify similarities and differences in the ways that states, initiatives, and regions measure data related to the progress of their community college students. The Completion Arch will also stress the vital and multiple missions of community colleges by presenting metrics that encompass the entire community college student experience, from enrollment to college completion to career readiness. The College Board and MPR Associates will launch The Completion Arch on April 30, 2012. To help community college leaders understand the value of this new resource, we have prepared the following briefing.

Community College Benefits America’s community colleges are receiving unprecedented attention as the pivotal drivers of a renewed U.S. economy and as an open door to higher education for millions of students who wish to participate fully in American society (Goldrick-Rab, Harris, Mazzeo, and Kienzl, 2009). To advance the success of these unique institutions, educators and policymakers need quick and easy access to data that describe the effectiveness of these community colleges and the students they serve. The Completion Arch provides these data in abundance. Tapping publicly-available, national- state-, and initiative-level data, The Completion Arch not only portrays an educational landscape of extraordinary diversity, but highlights the astonishing range of community college student endeavors—from enrollment through workforce placement and success. By synthesizing hundreds of indicators from dozens of sources—and


The Challenge of Measuring Community College Students

collecting these data in a single place—The Completion Arch fills the need for useful, reliable and centrally organized statistics on the progress of community college students and the central role that community colleges play in addressing the nation’s need for a well-educated workforce.

Measures and Data All metrics reported in The Completion Arch are categorized into a five-part framework spanning the community college student experience from first enrollment to entry into the workforce after college (see Figure 1). Within each area of the Arch, a variety of measures are presented, a total of 26 in all. Between the events of enrollment and employment are metrics that summarize students’ advancement through their education programs. For example, under “Progress,” traditional metrics are provided, such as “completion of first developmental education course.” However, other indicators, less traditional but more descriptive of community college students’ progress, characterize critical “momentum points.” These are specific behaviors associated with successful outcomes, such as attending full time, completing a transfer curriculum, or earning a threshold number of credits in a specific period of time. Table 1 presents the measures available under each of the five areas. Each measure includes a variety of specific indicators. Depending on the availability of data, these indicators might be national measures (such as those reported by IPEDS) or they could be state- or regional-level data, such as those reported by institutions participating in Achieving the Dream. In all, The Completion Arch presents over 500 indicators of student progress and success. One of the most important functions of The Completion Arch is to explain the data underlying each indicator, to describe exactly what is measured, to delineate who is counted and to explain why the indicator is important. Users of this resource will learn, for example, that degree completion rates reported by IPEDS only capture the productivity of full-time, first-time community college students, a relatively small proportion of students who attend community colleges (Cook and Pullaro, 2010). Data will also be disaggregated by gender, race, age, enrollment status, socioeconomic status, and fields of study. It is important to note, however, that The Completion Arch will not include institution- or student-identifiable data.

Figure 1. The Completion Arch Framework


Tra n Co sfer mp let and ion

The Completion Arch Measuring Community College Student Success

force Work n fo r aratio Prep t oymen Empl mes Outco

Enrollm ent

l n ta me n p lo atio t ve De Educ men e c Pla


The Challenge of Measuring Community College Students

Table 1. Metrics and Measures for The Completion Arch 1. Enrollment a. Fall Enrollment b. Unduplicated annual enrollment

2. Developmental Education Placement a. Placement in developmental courses b. Participation in developmental courses


4. Transfer & Completion

a. Completion of the first developmental course

a. Graduation rates

b. Completion of developmental sequence c. Enrollment in gatekeeper courses d. Completion of gatekeeper courses e. Threshold number of credits in a specified time f. Persistence over terms and years

b. Number of degrees and certificates awarded c. Completion rates within six years d. Persistence without a degree after six years

5. Workforce Preparation & Employment Outcomesg a. Licensure exam pass rates b. Job placement rates c. Graduates’ wages and wage growth

e. Time to degree f. Credits to degree g. Near program completion after six years

g. Completion of transfer curriculum h. Full-time attendance in first semester i. Completion of courses attempted j. Specified credits earned within one year k. Continuous enrollment l. Summer credits earned

Data Sources The student progress metrics presented in The Completion Arch originate from a variety of sources, including state and federal databases, prominent college completion initiatives, and research and educational institutions. The state indicators come from published sources, while the national indicators emanate from survey data collected by the U.S. Department of Education. Figure 2 provides a list of the major sources of data for this initiative. The Completion Arch will also indicate areas of college effort that are not currently measured, but should be. In some areas, data are scarce, and the related indicators are limited in what they can tell us. For example, employment placement data are unavailable in many states, making it impossible for community colleges to demonstrate their effectiveness in training students for the workforce. As more data become available, however, The Completion Arch will present a fuller account of the progress and success of community college students throughout the U.S.

Table 2. Data Sources for The Completion Arch Achieving the Dream Beginning Postsecondary Students Longitudinal Studies Community College Research Center Completion College America Institute for Higher Education and Leadership Policy State Longitudinal Data Systems Integrated Postsecondary Education Data Systems U.S. Department of Education


The Challenge of Measuring Community College Students

Features The Completion Arch will feature a state-of-the-art website that will be dynamic and interactive ( The five areas of The Completion Arch will serve as the major components of the site. Within each area, all of the measures listed in Table 1 will be provided along with the associated indicators. Within this structure, users of The Completion Arch will be able to compare indicator results across states—but only if data are comparable. Understanding how data definitions differ is one of the powerful features of the website and will assist educators and policymakers who are working toward convergence in the metrics used to assess community college student progress. For example, data from those campuses piloting the new Voluntary Framework of Accountability (VFA) will be available on the website, highlighting the efforts of community college leaders to develop measures that best represent the productivity of their institutions. Users of the website will also be able to print PDFs of any and all indicator results. Moreover, data within The Completion Arch will be refreshed twice per year, and new metrics will be added as those data become publicly-available. Each year a printed version of The Completion Arch will be issued. The inaugural version, which will be released on April 30, in tandem with the launch of the website, will be devoted to an in-depth description of the features and capabilities of The Completion Arch. Future editions will highlight timely issues and trends emanating from the data reported within The Completion Arch. We envision the print report as an opportunity to focus national attention on the most important issues facing the measurement of community college student progress. In doing so, we hope to encourage policymakers, researchers, and educators to collectively tackle these essential concerns.

Audience The Completion Arch will serve many audiences, including educators, researchers, policymakers, journalists—even students and families. Not surprisingly, the greatest interest is likely to come from community college leaders who will use The Completion Arch to examine how their programs and policies serve students. Academic researchers will use the indicators to evaluate state and national education policies as well as to address empirical issues such as the factors that affect access, equity, efficacy and efficiency. Foundations will apply these data in ways that help target their grants to specific components of community colleges. Similarly, accrediting agencies will draw on the broad perspective of the indicators in The Completion Arch to give context to the experiences of students at the community colleges they evaluate and to shape appropriate benchmarks of student progress and success. Journalists, who are paying sustained attention to the needs of community colleges, will use the data in The Completion Arch to add context to their coverage of community college issues. Even prospective and current community college students and their families, though not intended to be a primary audience for The Completion Arch, may use these indicators to effect plans that best meet their educational and career goals.

Project Guidance The Completion Arch benefits from the advice and counsel of an advisory group that includes education leaders from throughout the U.S. This group includes community college presidents, as well as representatives from some of the most prominent higher education organizations, including Achieving the Dream, Complete College America, Jobs for the Future, Institute for Higher Education Policy, State Higher Education Executive Officers and the American Association of Community Colleges. The aim of The Completion Arch is to bring to light the extraordinary diversity of community colleges as represented by the success of its students within a framework that is impartial, non-evaluative and comprehensive. The College


The Challenge of Measuring Community College Students

Board and MPR see this as a long-term commitment, understanding that advancing community college student success strengthens higher education and the nation. Following the launch of this initiative, The College Board and MPR Associates will continue to convene educators, policymakers, and researchers to highlight major trends and emerging issues regarding the measurement of community college student progress and success.

References American Association of Community Colleges (2012). Fast Facts. Washington DC: Author. Retrieved March 11, 2012 from Bailey, T. (2011). Can Community Colleges Have Ambitious College Completion Goals? Prepared for the American Enterprise Institute Conference, Degrees of Difficulty: Can American Higher Education Regain Its Edge? Feb. 15, 2011. Retrieved March 11 2012 from Cook, B. and Pullaro, N. (2010). College Graduation Rates: Behind the Numbers. Washington DC: American Council on Education. Retrieved March 11, 2012 from cfm&CONTENTID=38399 Goldrick-Rab, S., Harris, D. N. Mazzeo, C., and Kienzl, G. (2009). Transforming America’s Community Colleges: A Federal policy Proposal to Expand Opportunity and Promote Economic Opportunity [Policy Brief]. Washington DC: Brookings Institute. Retrieved March 11, 2012 from rick_rab.aspx Hamilton, R. (December 12, 2011). “Graduation rates campaign heads to Dallas.” The Texas Tribune. Retrieved March 11, 2012 from Jaschik, S. (December 12, 2011). “A public swipe at Texas community colleges.” Inside Higher Education. Retrieved March 9, 2012 from National Commission on Community Colleges (2008). Winning the Skills Race and Strengthening the Middle Class: An Action Agenda for Community Colleges. New York: The College Board. Retrieved March 8, 2012 from http://professionals.collegeboard. com/profdownload/winning_the_skills_race.pdf


Problem Solving…

Problem Solving, Collaborative Organizational Learning and the Community College Victor Mark Heifleigh Borden, PhD, Professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, Indiana University Bloomington, Indiana


e have a problem. Indeed we have a number of them. In this essay, we consider an inter-related set of vexing problems facing all higher education institutions and the important role community colleges play in addressing relevant parts of these problems.

One way to characterize these problems is by unacceptably low rates of college completion (aside from at the most elite institutions that enroll relatively few students) and the related ineffectiveness of remedial education and other supports for the increasing numbers of students from academic and economically disadvantaged backgrounds who seek postsecondary education. These increases are, in turn, related to the growing importance of a postsecondary credential for access to employment that can sustain even modest levels of income. Another way to characterize these problems is the declining public sector support for higher education. Eroding public support can be attributed to the overall economic circumstances that appear to be more than just a typical economic down-turn (i.e., “the new normal”) compounded by a diverse array of competing social support needs and a shift in perspective of higher education as more a private benefit than a public good, which is further exacerbated by the increased link between higher education and personal economic well-being. Yet another way to frame these problems is the inability of the diverse, complex, multi-faceted and relatively autonomous institutions that comprise the U.S. higher education landscape to represent to the public in a relatively simple, compelling fashion the quality of its core product: student learning. At a time when “consumers” have ready access to useful information regarding their investments in many areas (financial products, housing, automobiles, health care options, etc.), higher education choices seem less amenable to such comparisons. The desire to make an informed choice based on credible outcome information is even more acute given the substantial increases in costs to the student and her family and the prospects of significant loan debt upon completing a degree. Colleges and universities internationally are faced with increasing demands for demonstrating their value to a wider array of stakeholders. Underpinning these demands, Boaventura de Sousa Santos describes a core conflict among several strong competing value sets that simultaneously operate in the higher education domain. Within and outside the academy, there is still strong support for traditional academic values for the production of high culture, critical thinking and exemplary scientific and humanistic knowledge, even though these values focus mostly on education of a relatively small, educationally elite portion of the population. The advance of globally competitive market forces supports the need for scientific innovation but, at the same time requires the efficient production of standardized, instrumental knowledge for the masses. The public sector faces continuing humanistic demands for democratization and


Problem Solving…

social equity but does not have the resource base required to support these advances given a prevailing shift toward viewing the private sector as the more sustainable financial sector and a growing distrust of government at all levels. Although these value systems have conflicting tendencies, they also converge well with regard to refocusing higher education away from access issues and toward completion and employability as manifest through the competence of graduates to work within jobs requiring higher order technical, communication, critical thinking and problem-solving skills and abilities. With the erosion of public sector financial support and the shift in cost burden to the student, demands for demonstrating the value of outcomes have superseded the sufficiency of allowing everyone simply to have an opportunity to succeed or fail. The cost of failure has become far too steep to continue to tolerate the levels of failure now evident. A recent report by the National Center for Education Statistics2 on a national representative sample revealed that slightly over one-third of students who entered a community college in 2004 had earned either a certificate, associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree within six years and another 20% of students were still pursuing college-level studies. Thus nearly one-half (46%) had not completed nor were on track to complete any postsecondary credential.

Doing the Same Thing Over and Over Again and Expecting Different Results This aphorism, commonly misattributed to Albert Einstein or Mark Twain as a definition of insanity, captures well the way in which most institutions of higher education have responded to calls for improved student completion rates and demonstrable learning outcomes. Many academics believe that they are approaching their work in the most appropriate way and that change can only come with improved inputs (better prepared students) and increased resources. Increases in overall student preparation is not likely given the diversification of the college age population and an increased demand for all students to have some level of postsecondary training. Moreover, prospects are more likely for further resource declines than they are for any increases as public sector dollars diminish and tuition rates hit a point where they are not as likely to be as inelastic as they have been historically. It has been more than 15 years since Barr and Tagg’s seminal article that recast our focus from teaching to learning.3 Higher education institutions do not change quickly and that is not necessarily a bad thing. Critics of higher education often bemoan the academy’s resistance to change citing that they should be as nimble as private sector businesses. We would not be served well by higher education institutions that fail as organizations at the same rate as private businesses, half of which succumb in their first year of operation. On the other hand, the pace of technological and economic change requires a little more nimbleness among higher education institutions than has been evident. More importantly, there are some notable examples of innovation across the sector. However, in the larger scheme, these examples operate at the margin of an industry that appears to hold dearly to its common modes of operation regardless of how well these modes accommodate current realities.

Problem Solving Addressing complex social problems requires a group of creative, intelligent people with diverse perspectives, working together on common objectives with a spirit of open-mindedness. Higher education institutions are generally replete with creative, intelligent people with diverse perspectives. What has been more problematic is working together on common objectives with a spirit of open-mindedness. The segmentation of institutions by sector helps define common objectives. Community colleges represent one such sector that is organized to focus on educating a specific, albeit large component of the postsecondary population (students who are typically place-bound, often first generation, low-income students with lower levels of preparation and support for postsecondary education). Moreover, community college education is focused at a fairly narrow level (academic and vocational associate’s degree


Problem Solving‌

and other credentials requiring two-years or less). This leaves as the focus for problem solving improving the capacity within community colleges or working together with an open-minded spirit.

Learning is a Wonderful Thing: We Should try it Sometime Learning is a complex process requiring systematic inquiry, critical review of evidence and effective communication. Learning is, in a sense, not entirely rational. In many cases, a learner must abandon the system of rationality from which she currently operates and replace it with a more nuanced and complex rational structure. Learning is also a social process, that is, we learn not merely by assimilating new facts or bits of knowledge into our individual minds, but by interacting with others either in person or through their written or otherwise recorded ideas, having our minds shaped through a dialogue with people who think differently than we do as we attempt to make meaning of our individual and collective observations (i.e., the evidence). For lifelong learning, one must continually accommodate ideas that do not fit comfortably within one’s current mode of thinking and operating and adopt new modes of thinking and acting. Teachers at all levels recognize the appropriateness of these assertions for their students. However, we often fail to acknowledge these learning conditions in our own work as professional educators and educational support specialists.To address the complex problems like those described at the start of this essay, we must move break away from our current modes of thinking and acting and learn together how to achieve our common objectives at a level more suitable to current demands.Toward this end it would be helpful to become better learning organizations. Evidence-based, collaborative inquiry is a fundamental feature of learning organizations. It requires organizational actors to work together to explore evidence regarding the outcomes of their efforts, review how processes produce those outcomes, and decide on ways to reshape their thinking and acting to produce more desirable outcomes. In a forthcoming chapter on collaborative organizational learning as a framework for decision making in higher education, Adrianna Kezar and I recast decision making in higher education as an interactive learning experience. We pose several benefits to adopting this perspective, including increased buy-in and engagement among faculty and staff in the learning process; greater collective intelligence afforded by collaborative processes and the ability to question limiting organizational assumptions. How then do we create capacities within our institutions to continuously and collaboratively experiment with and refine our work at all levels? Many colleges and universities are highly decentralized into academic departments and administrative divisions that allow people to pursue diverse aims and objectives without bumping up against each other. Although these arrangements tend to preserve a level of autonomy that fosters creativity and innovation at one level, they often stymie efforts to work more collaboratively toward broader institutional objectives, most notably student completion and overall educational coherence. Increasingly, because of accountability demands from accreditors, governmental agencies and others, higher education institutions have created some centralized structures to bridge across disparate units to at least comply with these demands, if not authentically embrace their purpose. Community colleges are well positioned to model new ways of working as learning organizations. When gauged by traditional academic values, faculty and professional staff who work at community colleges often find themselves in a disadvantageous position. Rather than bemoan this position on the terms set by other sectors, community college faculty and professionals can set a leadership example by defining a new model as higher order learning organizations. They can do so by increasing the visibility and importance of professional educators who focus their scholarpractitioner efforts first and foremost on providing quality postsecondary education to a diverse population of students, many of whom present with academic and sociocultural disadvantages. There must surely be some significant changes in the approaches taken and supports provided through reward and incentive systems. Community college


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faculty and staff have little to lose and much to gain by venturing down this path. More importantly, students attending community colleges can benefit greatly by a renewed commitment to collaborative problem solving at community colleges.

References Santos, Boaventura de Sousa (2010). The university in the twenty-first century: Towards a democratic and emancipatory university reform, Eurozine, October. Retrieved March 18, 2012 from


Radford, A.W., Berkner, L., Wheeless, S.C., and Shepherd, B. (2010). Persistence and Attainment of 2003–04 Beginning Postsecondary Students: After 6 Years (NCES 2011-151). U.S. Department of Education. Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved March 18, 2012 from


Barr, R. B. and J. Tagg (1995, Nov/Dec). From teaching to learning - A new paradigm for undergraduate education. Change, 13-25.


Borden, V. M. H. & Kezar, A. (in press). Institutional research and collaborative organizational learning. In R. Howard, W. Knight & G. McLaughlin (eds). The handbook of institutional research San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.



Challenges Facing Community Colleges

Challenges Facing Community Colleges Paul Attewell Graduate Center of the City University of New York Robin Isserles Graduate Center of the City University of New York

The Mission of Community Colleges


he mission that American society assigns to community colleges is an extraordinarily important one, but it can best be understood by first considering young people’s educational experiences prior to starting college.

Between the ages of five and eighteen, the vast majority of American children have attended schools that are highly segregated by income and social class, and often by ethnicity and race, and students’ progress in college reflects those prior experiences. Children of affluent families are likely to have attended well-resourced public or private schools, with many highly credentialed and skilled teachers. Most of these students have known since infancy that they were destined to attend college, and by the time they graduate from high school, the large majority of them are academically well-prepared. Teenagers from affluent families usually aspire to enroll in a four-year college, attend full-time, and live on campus in a dorm, the stereotypical American college experience. Most know what will be expected of them in college, and if they need further assistance, their well-educated parents and siblings and an entire network of extended family, friends, and business contacts will be there to offer advice. At the other end of the spectrum, the majority of children of lower-income families attend schools from kindergarten onward surrounded by other children from similarly disadvantaged backgrounds. Their school buildings are likely to be older and are in many cases overcrowded. Their teachers include many new to the profession, and a goodly number will be teaching in areas outside their specialization. Turnover rates among lower-income students and their teachers are high, and discipline problems in corridors and classrooms absorb the time and attention of teachers and students alike. Although principals and staff struggle to offer a rigorous curriculum, test scores and curricular evidence show that even the top students attending such schools typically graduate with skills and knowledge well below those of students from more affluent schools. Lower-income students who get as far as college are likely to be the first in their families to do so. Most will have to hold a paid job while enrolled, and many will decide to attend college part-time in order to accommodate their work schedules. Some of these beginning collegians will already have children of their own, while others will be expected to contribute financially to their parents’ households, or to help care for younger siblings, during their college years. Conflicting financial needs and family obligations will lead many into a stop-go pattern during college, mixing some semesters enrolled in college with other periods of stopping out to focus on full-time paid employment. Community college students bring to the classroom an extraordinarily wide array of experiences and backgrounds. In community college classrooms one finds students who are the children of college professors, those with advanced


Challenges Facing Community Colleges

degrees from other countries, children of community leaders and activists, immigrants from all over the world, and very dedicated students of the working class and working poor. In these same classrooms, one will also find students living in shelters and/or facing eviction during the semester; those undergoing treatment for AIDS or cancer; individuals who dropped out of high school; students whose schooling was interrupted because they were stalked by abusive partners, or had marriages arranged for them; former teen mothers and fathers; felons and parolees; victims of stop and frisks; injured athletes who lost scholarships to four year institutions; nannies for the wealthy; sex workers; recovered addicts; students raised by people other than their parents. This diversity of experiences is an important part of the community college story and should be foregrounded in discussions of how these institutions could better serve their students. Among students who do not fit the traditional college student stereotype, the local community college is a common choice: an institution within commuting distance of home that offers flexible class schedules that allow students to combine school with work. Tuition is usually much cheaper than at a four-year state institution, and any high school graduate is admitted, irrespective of high school GPA or test scores. Typically, young community college students will study alongside significant numbers of older students who already have real jobs but want to upgrade their credentials and improve their prospects for promotion, and alongside yet other mature students some of whom have lost their jobs during economic recessions and seek training for a new career. Although there are exceptions, many entering community college students will not have earned good grades in high school. Given their limited academic skills to date, and the intense competition to enter careers in business and the professions, some beginning community college students begin with unrealistically high expectations or career goals and will struggle to find a major within their grasp. Other freshmen have only a fuzzy sense of why they are in college, having been swept along in the current that says college is the thing to do after high school. They may not enjoy academics, but for now they lack better alternatives. A further consequence of the social inequalities of K-12 education and in society more broadly, is that many community college students enter college without a deep understanding of what it means to be a college student. Many lack what we may call a “student sensibility ” — an understanding of and appreciation for what it means to be a college student; an understanding of all that is expected in the classroom environment, of class preparation, or of how to navigate through academic institutions. Many of these students may not have the sense that they are entitled to ask questions, or even an understanding that they should speak out in class. This more passive orientation to schooling and to educational decision-making manifests itself in a number of ways: some students have difficulty remembering which classes they are taking, or the names of their professors in a given semester; a few have trouble finding a classroom and give up, rather than ask someone where to go. Such students are not empowered, nor do they feel entitled to ask questions, a problem even greater than not knowing what questions to ask. Many don’t understand the importance of visiting their professors in office hours. They prefer to rely, instead, on friends or peers, which often yields erroneous information, much to their detriment. These students may not understand what “Liberal Arts” means, though it is their defined major, nor do they fully appreciate the importance of entrance exams or the implications of failing them. These are the same students who go to see their advisor and assume that the advisor will “tell them what to take”, and thus make little effort to plan their own schedules. At the same time, they don’t know that they are supposed to be part of the decision-making. While such a characterization does not represent all community college students, it is certainly more pronounced at community colleges than in four year institutions, and it is a reality with which faculty, staff and administrators alike need to fully understand and appreciate in order to better help these students attain their academic goals.


Challenges Facing Community Colleges

Furthermore, there is a striking mismatch between this lack of student sensibility and some students’ educational and professional aspirations. Some aspire to finish their degree (many in two years), transfer to a four year school and get a BA, though their decisions don’t often make this a realistic trajectory. Nor, do they understand the limitations with which they must contend, in terms of the amount of work required of each class outside of class time and how little time they have to spend on that work, given their other obligations of paid work and/or family care. It is as if they have been told how important it is to go to college, but the more nuanced implications of what that means have not been transmitted. They understand they should go to college, they may not, however, understand how. This very diverse spectrum of students, products of a highly stratified society and extremely unequal k-12 schooling, are channeled into community colleges that are expected to make up for their skills deficits and quickly bring them up to speed academically, to motivate and prepare them for middle class jobs and to nourish a student sensibility, all the while spending less per undergraduate than some school districts spend on their high school pupils. This is an extraordinarily difficult mission, ameliorating 13 years of unequal schooling and providing meaningful career opportunities for all. One is tempted to declare it ‘mission impossible.’ Nevertheless, the nation’s community colleges take up this challenge. They provide sequences of remedial or developmental courses for students who have failed to learn high school math or English composition. Liberal arts courses are made available for those who see community college as a stepping stone for transferring to a BA granting institution. Students with more modest academic and occupational goals find a palette of vocational two-year associate’s degrees, from massage therapy to billing clerk to information technology to corrections. Finally, for those seeking a credential in a very short time, certificate programs provide vocationally-focused training that can be completed in one year or less. Are these credentials valued in the labor market? On this issue the evidence is persuasive: community college credentials and BAs earned at unselective four-year colleges are associated with higher average incomes, and even students who fail to complete a credential on average earn higher amounts than their peers who never went beyond high school. How many community college students make it through to the degree? National data from 2009 document that around one-third of entering students at public two-year colleges complete a credential within six years of entry: about 14% finish an Associate’s degree and another 12% get as far as a Bachelor’s degree, while around 9% earn a certificate. Like the tortoise and the hare, we find additional students moving very slowly towards their goal, taking only one or two courses per semester, or stopping out of school periodically to work or raise children, often taking well over six years to complete what is ostensibly a two-year degree. These tortoises are not counted in the graduation figure above. This glass-half-empty, glass-half-full graduation rate pleases no one. There are critics of mass higher education who would declare the whole enterprise a failure, pointing to the high non-completion figures. However, many strong supporters of community colleges are also dissatisfied with current low graduation rates, and push for improvement. Maintaining the status quo is not really an option, in any case, because important changes are underway that are altering the landscape in which community colleges are operating. We’ll summarize some of these forces below.

The Demography of Academic Expansion Enrollments in higher education have been expanding for more than half a century, fueled in part by population growth – the echo of the baby boom is currently of college age – and partly by the ever-increasing proportion of high-school graduates who continue into college. This growing number of paying customers – now about 20 million undergraduates – has been a boon for academic institutions from the top to the bottom of the prestige pyramid.


Challenges Facing Community Colleges

Despite burgeoning applications, and rapidly-increasing endowments, the Ivies and their close kin among top private colleges have not e xpanded much in half a century. What they have done instead is become far more selective about whom they admit. Where once they served many students from their local region, they now enroll students from around the nation, as well as increasing numbers of international students. Where once they admitted perhaps one-in-three applicants, the more prestigious institutions now enjoy twenty eager applicants for every place. This excess of student demand lets top colleges pick and choose. The SAT scores and academic credentials of the applicants they accept have skyrocketed over recent decades – their students are academically better qualified than ever – but the Ivies have accomplished this without changing their socio-demographic profile very much. Despite all the commentary about affirmative action, students at these top colleges are drawn overwhelmingly from affluent professional families. Poor white and poor black students are admitted in tiny numbers, as Espenshade and Radford have documented. A parallel pattern has occurred at the so-called ‘flagship’ campuses of the major state universities, places like Berkeley and UCLA, Ann Arbor, and Madison. Many of these prestigious public campuses have also become far more academically selective than in years past: the SAT scores that got you admitted in the 1970s wouldn’t get you near the waiting list today. Moreover, many flagships also enroll a considerably more affluent student body that they did decades ago. This tendency is likely to accelerate in coming years as cutbacks in state funding tempt flagships to enroll more affluent out-of-state students who will pay much higher tuition than in-state students. Increased competition for entry into the top colleges and into flagship universities means that their rejects, who are still academically well-prepared students, are pushed further down the prestige pyramid. If they can afford to, they enroll in lesser-prestige private and parochial colleges across the country. If not – and the recession has increased the number of cost-conscious applicants – they enroll in the non-flagship campuses of state university systems. At this latter level of academia, there has been huge expansion in the numbers of campuses and enrollments since the 1970s. Like a meal passing down the body of a python, the burgeoning numbers of college-goers has reached further and further down the prestige hierarchy of colleges. Less-selective universities are delighted when they receive more applications from academically-gifted students. As David Kirp has shown , most university presidents and boards of trustees relish the prospect that their institution might move ‘up market’ and are mesmerized by their rankings in The US News and World Report. They treat higher rankings as evidence of their own administrative success, and stronger freshman SAT scores help raise those rankings. Upgrading implies raising the bar for entry, and that is just what some four-year public institutions have done. When colleges and universities are able to admit more academically-accomplished students than previously, they can turn away their least attractive applicants. Among other dev elopements in the last decade or so, this has resulted in several states legislating new policies that deny entry to four-year institutions for all applicants who need remedial or developmental courses. Those students are redirected to public community colleges instead. The public debates that led to this shift usually emphasized the academic weaknesses of remedial students, arguing they were not ready for college-level work and would fit better in a community college environment. What was less trumpeted was that remedial students come disproportionately from lower-income families, or are children of immigrants, or are students of color. Hence policies that move remedial education to community colleges also direct lower income students from four-year to two-year colleges. A large body of research also shows that, other things being equal, starting one’s college career at a two-year rather than a four-year institution substantially lowers a student’s chances of getting as far as a BA degree.


Challenges Facing Community Colleges

These recent shifts in access to four-year colleges mean that today’s community colleges are receiving more students who in the past might have opted for a four-year college instead, so in one sense community colleges are also benefiting from this system-wide process of academic ‘upgrading.’ But if increases in undergraduate applications fuel a process of institutional upward mobility, what happens to the academically-neediest students, those at or near the bottom? Is there still room for them? Such questions should challenge those who are invested in the community college experience and the important functions they serve for a wide array of students. To the extent that community colleges can expand to make room for all applicants, no further displacement need occur, and many states did increase the size of their community college sector before the onset of the current economic recession. However state and local funding per student at community colleges has declined in many areas since the onset of the 2008 recession. In many places, community colleges have record enrollments and cannot offer enough sections of certain courses in popular majors, forcing some students to slow down their progress while waiting to get into those courses. In addition, we do see some evidence of student displacement from community colleges. These realities require a multi-tiered understanding and approach to solutions. And in doing so, difficult questions must be asked: are there enough qualified academic advisors available to properly assist students in navigating through their coursework? Are there sufficient academic as well as psychiatric counseling services for students? What types of hurdles to transfer exist for students who wish to finish their degrees at four year institutions? Do federal and state financial aid eligibility and enrollment requirements hinder students’ progress, rather than help? And how do these institutional arrangements acculturate students and help them develop the “student sensibility” that is so vital to their academic success? Ironically, government pressures for ‘accountability’ over graduation rates can fuel displacement of some students. Typically, community colleges are charged with admitting all applicants and historically, the emphasis has been on ensuring access. If lots of admitted students later dropped out, this was something that community colleges were somewhat fatalistic about. There were many plausible reasons for students’ failure to complete, and arguably these had little to do with the quality of education being offered them. Insufficient financial aid, heavy work and family obligations, and inadequate academic preparation were the main culprits. However, the drumbeat message that colleges should be held responsible for their graduation rates has grown louder and louder over time. No college president is unaware of this nowadays. But how should colleges respond? What interventions and options do they have to improve student graduation rates and speed up time to degree? Across the country, numerous initiatives are underway to improve pedagogy, counseling and support services, as well as curriculum. But any organizational consultant faced with this problem can see one obvious solution: if you stop admitting the weakest students entering a community college, then a college’s graduation rate will improve markedly. A commitment to open access continues to motivate community college administrators, staff and faculty, making this is an uncomfortable realization, since it implies shutting people out. Two compromises seem to have emerged. On the one hand, some community colleges have teamed up with the local high schools that feed into them, trying to improve preparation in math and English composition during high school in an effort to improve the skills of those who will make it to college. The hope is that these ‘improved’ high school students will do better once they get to college and will graduate in higher numbers. (This is currently an untested assumption. We need to wait for research to accumulate on this question before we are sure.) In a second development, some community colleges are experimenting with ways of helping high school graduates before they formally enter community college. ‘Bridge programs’ are one example: running courses during the summer before community college students begin their regular degree program. Bridge programs often involve remedial


Challenges Facing Community Colleges

coursework, skills development, and orienting students towards college life. Students who fail and drop out of these pre-college courses will never appear “on the college’s books.” A related approach currently piloted at the City University of New York tests the academic skills of students when they apply to community college. For those applicants who fail these skills tests, this program advocates a delay before enrolling in the community college itself. Instead, low-skill applicants are encouraged to enroll in remedial courses, which are offered off-campus and at a much cheaper tuition. This intervention seeks to build the skills of academically-needy students even before they enter college. Initial indications are that this early intervention can help some students. But those students who cannot handle the academic demands of these special “off-shore” developmental courses may decide not to continue into higher education at all. So such programs also act as a filter, keeping some of the academically-weakest students from starting a college career. These innovations are still relatively new and we don’t yet know how effective they will turn out to be in improving skills or how widely they will be adopted. To the extent that such programs filter out significant numbers of the academically-weakest students even before entry to a community college, however, we would expect that institutional graduation rates will look better over time.

Competition from the For-Profit Sector A quite separate development has emerged that may prove of great consequence for community colleges, and for public higher education more generally. Profit-making corporations have moved energetically into higher education, competing with non-selective public colleges. This so-called ‘proprietary” or ‘for-profit’ sector has grown exceedingly fast, reaching over 1.5 million in 2009 . They advertise very widely over the web and in other media. The bulk of students in the proprietary sector enroll in certificate programs or for two-year associate’s degrees. Tuition is expensive, for-profits charge double or more of the tuition cost of public community colleges. The large majority of enrollees at for-profits take out federal student loans to pay for that tuition, which has led critics to charge that for-profits are saddling their students with high levels of debt. The proprietary sector currently absorbs an amount equal to 40% of the Pell grant funds that go to public higher education. For-profits gain that disproportionate share of federal funds because they enroll a markedly poorer population, even compared to public community colleges. The for-profit sector teaches a higher percentage of black students, and a higher proportion of full-time than part-time undergraduates. All told, the for-profit colleges are serving large numbers of the most academically-needy and economically-disadvantaged students. Why would so many low-income students and students of color enroll in proprietary colleges that are much more expensive than their public community college counterparts? Slick advertising efforts and individualized sales pitches delivered by sympathetic recruiters may be part of the reason. Moreover, for-profit colleges take a different pedagogical approach than many community colleges. Many offer just a few certificate or degree programs, and they immediately channel incoming students into a major or program. This contrasts with community colleges, where students are confronted with an overwhelming choice of courses and majors, sometimes drifting from one to another. In addition, proprietary colleges usually avoid the required remediation common at community colleges. Instead of labeling incoming students as skill deficient, most for-profits adapt to the current skill level of their students instead of requiring separate remedial coursework. They offer highly-structured courses that are tightly focused on certain kinds of job-related skills and knowledge. Some are also heavily involved in on-line or distance learning, making them even more attractive alternatives. Students at for-profit colleges rarely encounter difficulties registering for a course in their program; the colleges usually offer as many sections as there are paying customers, including many scheduled conveniently in the evening or on


Challenges Facing Community Colleges

weekends. By contrast, community college students taking popular majors commonly complain that they have to wait for semesters to get into certain popular courses for their majors, because the number of sections being offered is insufficient to meet demand, and community colleges cannot afford to hire more instructors or are limited by physical space. For-profit colleges also make lavish claims about their job placement services and abilities to place graduates in jobs, services that are often neglected in under-resourced community colleges. Again, however, critics of the proprietary sector have claimed these colleges make false promises about job placement. A recent report from the Government Accountability Office found that students at for-profit colleges have lower pass rates on professional credentialing exams than their public college counterparts. Researchers disagree whether graduation or degree completion rates at for-profit colleges equal those at public community colleges. The raw numbers suggest they graduate students at about the same, rather low, rate. On the other hand, our own analyses of national longitudinal data find that, among students seeking associate degrees, for-profits have significantly higher completion rates than community colleges, after one allows for the demographics of their student bodies. Viewed one way, community colleges and for-profit colleges are not in direct competition, because they tend to serve somewhat different populations. Moreover, community colleges currently have so many applicants that they can barely serve them all, so there is no shortage of customers. But looked at differently, these two sectors are in competition, because the for-profits are drawing ever more dollars out of the federal Pell grant and student loan systems. The public community colleges are dependent on this same pool of federal funding. The growth in low-income students enrolling in college – especially at for-profit institutions– has driven expenditures for these government programs through the roof, and has provoked a backlash in Congress over the growing cost. Some politicians call for reining in for-profits through regulation. Others defend the for-profits and instead suggest restrictions in federal loan eligibility to counter rising costs: reducing support for part-time students (who enroll disproportionately in community colleges), or requiring students supported by Pell grants to take more credits per semester, and so on. These political battles are ongoing, and for-profits have spent lavishly on lobbying. The outcome is quite unclear, but it does seem as if the emergence and growth of the for-profit sector may set off an avalanche of change in federal funding that will have profound implications for community colleges and their students.

Tensions between Vocational and Academic Missions These are interesting times, indeed. On the one hand, in the effort to close achievement gaps and make higher education accessible to more and more students, there has been a narrowing of the mission of community colleges to that of providing fundamental academic foundations and preparation for degree attainment beyond the Associates level. As a result, the curricula found in many community colleges have become much more focused on General Education goals mirroring the standard educational model of most four year degree granting institutions. This has been accompanied by a generalized devaluing of the vocational and technical educational experiences in society at large, but certainly throughout k-12 education, pushing all students toward a college degree. And it is supported by accreditation bodies that periodically visit and evaluate community colleges, as well as state education policies that define the requirements for granting a degree. The result is that the structure of education at most community colleges closely mirrors that at more elite traditional institutions: there are majors, required courses and electives. Courses are associated with certain number of credits, primarily defined by ‘seat time’ – the hours spent in class per week. There are midterms and finals, Grade Point Averages and honor rolls.


Challenges Facing Community Colleges

On the other hand, and perhaps as a response to the economic crisis that began in 2008, there has been increased attention to bringing back or strengthening the vocational mission of community colleges. We have heard this most strongly from President Obama in his pledges to pour more money into community colleges, recasting them as “Community Career Centers” Despite the growth in the knowledge economy that is both a product of and contributor to the “college for all” position, there remain many jobs in which physical skills and working with one’s hands are important. For example, the restaurant industry is a huge employer, with a steady demand for trained chefs and cooks. Welder, electrician, plumber – these are all occupations that similarly require well-trained entrants with manual skills. Even health aides in nursing homes, a growing industry, need to learn to use hoists and other equipment for what is becoming a more technical job. In principle, community colleges can and do prepare young people for skilled manual occupations like these. However, training for manual occupations is relatively costly, compared to offering an extra section of a liberal arts course in a classroom. A good culinary arts program requires expensive training kitchens; a welding program requires equipment and raw materials and a fair amount of floor space. Teaching these kinds of subjects typically involves each student practicing in class or learning-by-doing, while the teacher walks from student to student watching their efforts and giving advice. So student-to-teacher ratios need to be somewhat lower than in a conventional classroom. Thus, it would seem that the mission of community colleges is at a crossroads. Do we continue the academic focus on remediation and academic preparation, as well as cultivating a student sensibility, so that students who travel through community colleges on route to more advanced degrees are supported? Or should we focus on providing vocational training and re-skilling that the new economy may require? Is it feasible for community colleges to pursue both these goals without undermining the efforts of one over the other? If community colleges remain committed to this dual mission, how do we ensure that we do not return to the access gaps of the past, where low income students were channeled into vocational courses while more affluent students dominated in liberal arts and BA-bound tracks? In our view, it seems reasonable and rational to emphasize the value of vocational learning, but this should not replicate the models of the past, where it was primarily the poor and working class students who were tracked for the vocations. Viable, valued vocational alternatives are and should be important for middle class high school students too, who do not wish to pursue a strictly academic track as part of their advanced education. Further, accessible, quality academic programs should continue to be offered to those from low income families who may not have been adequately prepared nor have previously shown an inclination toward such experiences.

Some Caveats about the Academic Mission In our view, when community colleges copy the academic structures and norms of four year institutions too closely, they sometimes fail to meet the distinctive academic needs of their students. Perhaps the most dramatic example of this problem occurs in the mathematics requirements one finds for many community college degrees. Mathematics plays a distinctive role in American higher education. Very few students major in mathematics, yet many undergraduates take mathematics courses, because they are required to do so. Not only are there general-education math requirements in many institutions, but mathematics courses act as gatekeepers for some non-mathematical majors. For example, economics and business majors on many campuses require students to have passed college math or sometimes calculus. However, college mathematics is not just a prerequisite for technical majors, even nonquantitative Associate degree majors – massage therapist to take one example – require a college-level math course.


Challenges Facing Community Colleges

There is no clear consensus on what constitutes ‘college-level math,’ but what is very clear is that many undergraduates enter community colleges not only unprepared for college-level math, but have skill-levels well below that. They have not mastered algebra, geometry, or trigonometry at a level that is typically attained in high school in more affluent communities. Many community colleges respond to students’ lack of skills in mathematics by instituting required remedial or developmental mathematics courses. In effect, they require students to repeat the same ‘traditional’ middle and high school math curriculum that they failed to master previously in k-12 institutions. Evidence is accumulating that these sequences of remedial and required mathematics courses play an important role in students’ dropping out of community colleges. Transcript studies show that large numbers of students – on average over 50% in some colleges – either withdraw from or fail math courses. Moreover, only about 10% of undergraduates who are channeled into remedial math sequences ever make it all the way through and pass their required college-level math courses. The rest drop out. Does it make sense to require large numbers of community college students to enter math course sequences that we know, from prior experience, that so many will fail? Attempts have been made (most notably by the Carnegie Endowment for the Improvement of Teaching) to avoid the current ‘traditional’ math curricula that many undergraduates fail. “Statway” and “Mathway” are two of that institution’s innovative efforts to reconstruct college mathematics curricula in ways that will hopefully prove less demotivating for students. Perhaps too, more can be done to integrate shorter, more intensive sequencing with support mechanisms built into the course, rather than requiring students, already short on time, to spend extra time in math labs. Furthermore, advising students of the importance and implications of initial math placement exams, as well as providing online preparatory tutorials may result in fewer students being channeled into these remedial sequences in the first place.

Should community colleges offer bachelor degrees? Some students who enter community colleges want to complete a certificate program; others aspire to a two-year associate’s degree; and yet others want to complete a bachelor’s degree. Over time, the proportion of students who aspire to a four-year degree is increasing, which raises the issue of how community colleges should respond to the higher academic aspirations of their students? In principle, one can identify three possible responses or scenarios: First, community colleges might counsel students to be more realistic about their degree goals, especially those students whose academic backgrounds and skills indicate they would not easily make it to a bachelor’s degree. The criticism that community colleges are doing this – that they “cool out” or reduce the educational aspirations of students – was first raised in the 1960s by Burton Clarke. More recent research by Karl Alexander and others suggests the opposite is now the case: on average, as students spend more time at community college, their aspirations go up, not down. Second, community colleges might focus on preparing BA-aspiring students to transfer to four-year programs at other colleges. This is now widespread in most community colleges: many offer courses that should in principle allow students to transfer to four-year institutions. Unfortunately, a relatively small proportion of community college students are succeeding in transferring to four-year colleges: in the latest BPS data that tracked students from 2003-2009 about 28 percent of starting community college entrants had transferred into a four-year institution within six years; of all those who began at community college nearly 12% had earned a bachelor’s degree and another 7% were still enrolled at a four-year college. We know that many students who do transfer to four year colleges are able to succeed after they transfer, suggesting that the quality of instruction, knowledge or skills that they received at community college were indeed sufficient preparation for BA-level study.


Challenges Facing Community Colleges

We also know that some four-year colleges place bureaucratic hurdles in the way of transfers from community colleges, in particular refusing to transfer all accumulated credits and/or requiring some community students to repeat coursework at the four-year college. These kinds of barriers have led, over decades, to states adopting policies requiring state universities to give full credit to entrants from public two-year colleges. Those ‘articulation agreement’ policies have not seemed to work very well in the past. Efforts to smooth the transfer process from two-year to fouryear colleges continue nevertheless. For example, policy shifts have recently occurred at the State University of New York (SUNY) system and at the City University of New York (CUNY) system to remove barriers and facilitate transfer. These are all an effort to allow more students to reach their degree goals and should include the collaboration of faculty, staff, and administrators. A third possibility is for community colleges to begin offering four-year bachelor degree programs by themselves. This development appeals to politicians in some states, as a cost-saving measure, compared to supporting students working towards bachelor degrees in more expensive public four-year universities. Across the country one finds occasional examples of community colleges that offer BAs. Some are new developments, while in other cases ‘comprehensive colleges’ that offer both associate and bachelor degrees have existed for decades. In integrated university systems like CUNY, an alternative to this is to establish articulated degree programs, where a student takes the first part of the degree at a community college (i.e., Criminal Justice) and then makes a seamless transfer to the same program at a four year institution. For over a century, institutions of higher education have expanded their missions to incorporate more advanced degree programs and move up the academic prestige hierarchy. Early in the 20th century many ‘normal schools’ that solely educated teachers broadened their scope and became state colleges, offering a wide range of programs. In the sixties and seventies, numerous state colleges expanded, added master’s degrees, and became state universities. So from a historical perspective, it would not be surprising if in the coming decade some of the more successful community colleges around the US decided to expand by offering programs of study in-house that lead to bachelor degrees. With the present emphasis on increasing student retention and degree completion, offering BA degrees at community college makes sense. Institutional graduation rates are likely to improve if students who decide to aim for a BA degree do not need to leave the community college in order to pursue their goal.

Conclusion The current fiscal climate for community colleges is very tough. States and local governments keep looking for places to cut budgets, and they have frequently reduced per capita funding for higher education. But if we look beyond the immediate challenges of the funding situation, we have argued that public community colleges face additional serious challenges in the years ahead. There is great pressure to improve retention and graduation rates, and the expanding for-profit sector may destabilize federal funding for public college students. We have highlighted several areas where changes are needed and likely to emerge. The remedial course sequences in community colleges are inefficient in two senses: many students fail or withdraw or repeat such courses and some become so discouraged they drop out. These courses also consume a large portion of community college budgets. There is a strong case to be made for a major overhaul or rethinking of remedial or developmental education. More generally, community colleges find it difficult to be innovative because their low position in the system of higher education makes them – and their accreditation bodies – defensive about diverging from the practices of four-year and more selective colleges. But there are compelling reasons to be innovative, for example to consider allowing students to exam their way through course modules rather than gain credits only for ‘seat time,’ or for developing curricula that do not passively mirror courses in four-year institutions. There are pressing needs to smooth students’


Challenges Facing Community Colleges

transitions from two-year to four-year programs, including potentially offering more bachelor degrees inside community colleges. Conversely, community colleges should not give up their longstanding commitments to teaching hands-on and machine-based skills for students, even though that kind of training costs more than liberal arts or lecture-style instruction and is therefore under siege in the current funding climate. Perhaps community colleges do not face a ‘mission impossible’ situation, but they do confront one of the toughest challenges in all of higher education: making up for grossly unequal K-12 schooling, bringing academically lessprepared students up to speed, and providing pathways to fulfilling careers. Policy makers want community colleges to accomplish that while also improving graduation rates and reducing the numbers of students who are stopping out or dropping out along the way. And to accomplish this while spending less per student. That difficult combination defines the future of the nation’s community colleges.

References Alexandria Walton Radford, Lutz Berkner, Sara Wheeless, Bryan Shepherd. 2010. Persistence and Attainment of 2003–04 Beginning Postsecondary Students: After 6 Years. National Center for Education Statistics Report 2011-151. Washington DC: Us Department of Education.


Thomas J. Espenshade and Alexandia Walton Radford. 2009. No Longer Separate, Not Yet Equal: Race and Class in Elite College Admission and Campus Life. Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press.


David Kirp. 2004. Shakespeare, Einstein, and the Bottom Line: The Marketing of Higher Education. Harvard MA: Harvard University Press.


For federal data on enrollments in the proprietary or for-profit sector over time see:


United States Government Accountability Office. December 2011. POSTSECONDARY EDUCATION: Student Outcomes Vary at For-Profit, Nonprofit, and Public Schools. GAO-12-143.


President Obama, State of the Union Address, January 25, 2012


Shanna Smith Jaggars and Michelle Hodara. 2011. The Opposing Forces that Shape Developmental Education: Assessment, Placemetn, and Progression at CUNY Community Colleges. CCRC Working Paper No. 36


The original thesis that community colleges lowered students’ educational and occupational expectations was advanced by Burton Clark in his article ‘The “Cooling-Out” Function in Higher Education’ The American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 65, No. 6. (May, 1960), pp. 569-576. Decades later, community colleges are said to be increasing their students’ aspirations. See Alexander, Karl, Robert Bozick, and Doris Entwisle. 2008. “Warming Up, Cooling Out, or Holding Steady? Persistence and Change in Educational Expectations After High School.” Sociology of Education 81(4):371-96.


These are figures calculated by the authors from NCES’ Beginning Post-Secondary Student study (BPS2003/2009) available online at:



The New Community College

The New Community College at CUNY: Moving from Concept to Implementation Scott E. Evenbeck, pHD, President, New Community College, CUNY, NY, NY

“This is a rare opportunity to build an entirely new college, the first at CUNY in more than four decades, based upon a new educational model. There is no more urgent task in higher education than to find ways to help more community college students succeed in earning their degrees and transitioning into the labor market. We look forward to welcoming our first students in fall 2012 and are eager for you to visit the campus and celebrate the opening of our new college with us.�  Chancellor Matthew Goldstein from a letter to the Honorable Michael R. Bloomberg May 23, 2011

The Concept


hancellor Goldstein appointed a planning group in early 2008 to prepare a concept paper for the New Community College. That planning team came up with an educational model of the New Community College is designed to mitigate the common experience of college as a jigsaw puzzle of discrete courses, services and administrative obligations. The design would enable students to graduate in three years, although students in good standing would have the opportunity to graduate in two years through full-time enrollment during each semester and additional study during intersessions and summers. The concept paper called for the guiding principle of the New Community College to be a move away from the traditional remediation/credit divide, offering instead an alternative model of required credit-based coursework for all firstyear students. Other defining features of the model include: a required first-year core curriculum; the restructuring of semesters into shorter modules; the incorporation of student development and work-place education in the first-year program; and, the full-scale implementation of learning communities. The teams working across the spectrum of programming for the new institution called for an institutional commitment to professional and curriculum development as central to the success of the educational model. The model called attention to recognizing the importance of faculty collaboration and shared complementary expertise. The City Seminars, the heart of the first-year curriculum, were developed calling for teaching by teams comprised of disciplinary, reading and writing, and quantitative/math faculty working in an instructional team model of faculty, academic advisors, peer mentors, and librarians.


The New Community College

The model articulated the goal of college preparation, progress to degree, and completion as shaping the culture of every office that provides services—admissions, financial aid, counseling—to admitted students. Student advisement would play a central role in the New Community College. Student cohorts organized for the first-year program would each be assigned an advisor who would work with others in supporting students in regularly scheduled “Group Workspace.” Through the summer bridge program, and these advisory sessions, students would become familiar with college policies and procedures, degree requirements, on-campus support services and services linked to external partners. Also, they would begin to develop educational, personal, and career goals. An important feature of the new college of the model is its articulation agreements with baccalaureate programs. All students would receive information about these agreements in their information sessions prior to admission and as they begin to develop educational goals. The model called attention to the importance of partnerships with community-based organizations that have a record of success in helping individuals apply for benefits and programs, including health insurance, nutrition, federal and state subsidies for childcare, housing assistance and tax credits. The Office of Partnership will focus on developing and sustaining relationships with industry, employers, community organizations and government agencies to advance the mission of the college and student engagement with the community. In addition, to encourage student interaction, the college was challenged develop a wide range of co-curricular activities and clubs to enable students to develop leadership skills, make connections with other students, staff and faculty, and have a strong voice in college governance. In order to approach accountability from a whole-college perspective, the model called for a Center for College Effectiveness to continually disseminate information derived from data analysis to faculty, students, staff and administrators as well as college and university officials. Any evaluation of the new college would take place within the framework of the Chancellor’s Performance Management Process. The defining goal will be the graduation of students with an associate degree who are prepared for work and/or for success in a baccalaureate program. We propose an initial target of 35% graduation and readiness for next steps, within three years. In the model, technology would not replace but rather extend and enhance access, feedback and interaction. It would extend contact with faculty, student peers, and advisors, provide new outlets for socializing and extracurricular activity and augment classroom instruction. It will enhance individualized instruction, collaborative learning, community, and cross-curricular connection. The required technology will not place unusual demands on infrastructure, networks, or users.

The Current Status The New Community College is housed at 50 West 40th Street, an ideal location in Midtown accessible to public transportation and the range of partners with whom the college will work. The permanent home will be at One Amsterdam Avenue, a new facility to be designed to U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environment Design (LEED) silver certification, as are all new CUNY buildings in line with PlaNYC 2030. The instructional space will be designed for maximum flexibility; the laboratories will include software that can be utilized by multiple academic areas. Office space will be clustered to foster interdisciplinary collaborations and a centrally located teaching and learning commons will function as a “hub.”


The New Community College

As of March 2012, it is exciting to report that prospective students and their family members and supporters have visited the building, where faculty and staff have worked closely with peer mentors, who are becoming ever more integral partners in our work. Each day brings reminders why the college exists in the heart of midtown: to realize the extraordinary opportunity to create a new college that will significantly increase the opportunity for success of mostly low income, first generation, and extraordinarily diverse urban students. A tapestry of services, practices, and policies that will result in our students reaching the aspirations they and their family members have—to earn associate degrees in a timely fashion and to be prepared for success in the economy and for further studies at the baccalaureate level. Thanks to the sustained efforts of so many creative, hardworking and dedicated educators and generous private support, we are doing our work differently and building a new breakthrough model community college. After extensive research and consultation with many experts within CUNY and across the nation, this new model for community college education emphasizes collaboration and moving beyond traditional roles. The college will wrap around students and their learning inside and outside the classroom, by organizing instructional teams comprised of faculty, advisors, peer mentors, and librarians to focus on students and what they need to succeed. The learning community model has been expanded to integrate developmental and college-level work and sufficient time on task in both courses and in “group work space” for students to learn in a supportive environment. Experiential education will build on engaging inquiry-based, problem-solving pedagogies in the classroom to support student learning. Given the attention to big picture, engaging issues central to the City Seminar, students will bring their own interests and values to co-constructing knowledge in this innovative interdisciplinary approach to education. Through extensive use of electronic portfolios, students will follow their pathways to learning as they reflect on and share their intellectual and personal growth. This is doing higher education differently—maximizing the use of information technology to support students and their learning. High impact practices, taken to scale for all students, and the explicit attention to careers and building social capital will lead, we believe, to student successes rarely imagined as even possible for students not well served in our public secondary urban school systems.

Working in a New Way The New Community College at CUNY is about what a recent “catalyst” paper by Susan Sturm, et al. called second order change : Second-order changes introduce new goals, structures, and roles that transform familiar ways of doing things into new ways of solving persistent problems (p. 341). Second-order changes are associated with transformational change, which “(1) alters the culture of the institution by changing select underlying assumptions and institutional behaviors, processes, and products; (2) is deep and pervasive, affecting the whole institution; (3) is intentional; and (4) occurs over time” (Eckel, Hill, & Green, 1998, p. 3). Most importantly, for these efforts to be transformative there needs to be integration of change efforts focused on cultural change: “Institution-wide patterns of perceiving, thinking, and feeling; shared understandings; collective assumptions; and common interpretive frameworks are the ingredients of this ‘invisible glue’ called institutional culture” (p. 3). An architectural approach is aimed at culture change that creates more welcoming environments that respond more fully to the needs of diverse students, faculty, and staff, allowing campuses to more fully achieve their public mission . . . An architecture of full participation thus results from a long-term yet urgent “campaign” animated by a shared vision, guided by institutional mindfulness, and sustained by an ongoing collaboration among leaders at many levels of the institution and community. The process of building this architecture will better equip higher education institutions to make good on their stated commitments to diversity, publicly engaged scholarship, and student success. It will also cultivate vibrant and dynamic communities that build multi-generational knowledge and leadership capacity, in collaboration with communities, to revitalize communities and democratic institutions.


The New Community College

The National Picture Since the development of the concept paper and the subsequent moves to implantation, national analyses have ratified the concepts in the planning documents. Key amongst them is the completion agenda articulated by President Obama and joined by many national leaders. This is what The New Community College at CUNY has been attempting to do from the start. The use of peer mentors as partners with faculty and staff in serving students is not an “add on” or supplement to the work but rather an effort to change the dynamic of the learning environment. The approach to recruitment, application and admissions—with its emphases on treating all students with respect and providing them as much information as possible, so that they may make an informed decision in choosing the community college that is the “right fit” for them – is also about establishing a relationship with the students from initial contact that treats them as individuals worthy of attention, with individual circumstances and needs that are well known. Fully engaging the peer mentors with faculty and staff in the group and individual information sessions with prospective students sends a powerful message and creates and validates a participatory culture from the earliest contact. Peer mentors will also be active in the Summer Bridge Program and in the development and delivery of curricular and co-curricular components of the student experience. The college will not get different results with student outcomes if the work is not conducted differently. The New Community College is consistent with the following themes coming out of the Complete College America – October 2011: Summit and Academy: • Remediation is not working: put students in gateway courses with enhanced support. •Limit the options—provide pathways. Structured, prescribed pathways. Instructional pathways with well-defined learning goals. • Support for students where the students are – in time and place. • Build the curriculum around what students need to take. • Protocols to support students in pathways. • Start with statistics (the calculus sequence should not be the default). What math for what program. • Get students to certificates or associate or baccalaureate degrees in timely fashion (a credential with economic value). • Block-schedule classes. • What are the skills students need for employment – attend to them. The New Community College, in concept and in implementation, incorporates all these features. Finally, the design for the college is consistent with other recent analyses of large scale research projects such as the statement from CCSSE that “options do not work with first generation students.” The Achieving the Dream interim report calls on the importance of taking programs to scale. The report states that “Additionally, while most colleges had expanded at least one strategy, the majority of strategies at these schools remained small in scale, leaving large proportions of students relatively untouched by the colleges’ Achieving the Dream work.” Taking programs to scale is key in making differences in student outcomes.

In Summary At the New Community College, all students will be participating in the full range of programs from information sessions through Bridge to learning communities and experiential education contexts in the City. The college has been created to serve students in Manhattan as the second community college in the Borough, but it is also building on


The New Community College

CUNY’s signal success with the Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP) program operating on the other community college campuses, a place where the work draws on research elsewhere to implement the college as a new model from with others can learn (Linderman and Kolenovic). This important national validation for the planning for the college from analyses of national projects and the success of the ASAP model has been very affirming for the faculty, staff, administrators, and peer mentors who now form the college community. The positive feedback from prospective students and their family members at the information sessions as well as in subsequent communications has likewise affirmed the vision and mission for the college (See Appendix A). A new committee, the “opening day committee” has been formed to move the college from planning to full implementation. The curriculum committee has completed an enormous array of tasks, including the participation of New Community College in CUNY’s seminal work in general education called “Pathways.” The assessment group is working with the learning outcomes for the college (See Appendix B), parallel to those of the Degree Qualification Profile published by the Lumina Foundation, consistent with Pathways which also has a focus on learning outcomes, as members have developed the rubrics which will drive assessment in the (almost ready) electronic portfolio central to the life of the college. Appendix A

Vision Statement Founded in the CUNY tradition of access to excellence, The New Community College will support student achievement in a dynamic, inclusive and intellectually engaging environment. We will be recognized for the contributions of our students, faculty, staff and graduates to our communities and to a thriving, sustainable New York City.

Mission Statement The New Community College at CUNY is an urban public institution that offers associate degree programs in an environment that nurtures student success. Based on extensive research, NCC integrates excellence in teaching, proactive and responsive student supports and external partnerships. Our primary objective is to increase the number of students, especially those not effectively served in higher education, who persist in their programs of study and attain a degree in a timely manner. We offer a clearly defined educational pathway including an integrated firstyear curriculum that is inquiry-based and majors that prepare students for careers and baccalaureate study. NCC programs are academically rigorous, multidisciplinary and experientially based. Community is at the center of NCC’s mission, and students are at the center of the NCC. NCC fosters an environment of cooperation and collaboration, where students, faculty and staff respect and appreciate each other’s perspectives, commonalities, differences and contributions. Students address compelling urban issues and move into the wider community through experiential learning and internships. Graduates will have the intellectual tools and confidence to be engaged citizens and responsible leaders. College is a time and a place and an idea—an opportunity to cultivate the knowledge and experience required to meet intellectual, creative and professional goals. NCC supports students in developing the capacity to interpret and evaluate ideas they encounter both in and out of the classroom and to make informed judgments. Students will learn to express their ideas effectively and know that their voices are valued. They will graduate with a greater sense of responsibility for their academic success and personal growth, prepared to pursue additional studies, a career and lifelong learning.


The New Community College

Appendix B

Learning Outcomes The New Community College at CUNY Institutional Student Learning Outcomes The New Community College’s learning outcomes encourage students to aim high and provide them with a framework for their entire educational experience, connecting school, college, work and life. These outcomes build on Lumina Foundation’s Degree Qualifications Profile and are informed by AAC&U’s LEAP Essential Learning Outcomes. They are an inclusive framework for a contemporary liberal education, defined not as a selected set of disciplines, but as a set of knowledge and skills for all aspects of life: school, work, citizenship, and social responsibility. They are reflective of the NCC’s mission and values. Students will know from the time they enter the NCC that they will be expected to demonstrate progress in achieving these outcomes. Institutional learning outcomes will be addressed at the course and program level. They will be based on integrative learning in and beyond the classroom and will be assessed via students’ coursework as collected and presented in their e-portfolios. 1. Broad, Integrative Knowledge: General Education The outcomes in this category demonstrate that students can integrate learning from broad fields of general study and make sense of the connections among different academic disciplines and multiple perspectives. a. Demonstrates engagement issues that have contemporary, historical, scientific, economic, technological, or artistic significance. b. Exhibits an understanding of how different disciplines create knowledge and approach problem-solving. c. Describes multiple perspectives on key debates and connects these debates to societal concerns. d. C  onnects prior knowledge and experience to ideas and concepts across different courses, majors, and forms of experiential learning. e. Expresses curiosity about the essential questions that drive personal, academic, and professional inquiry. 2. Specialized Knowledge: The Majors The purpose of a major is to provide students with specialized knowledge. Students who achieve the learning outcomes in this category will understand basic concepts, vocabulary and research methods related to their major, which will prepare them to enter the workforce or continue their studies at the baccalaureate level. a. Recognizes the scope and principal features of the field of study, including its main theories and practices. b. Understands and uses the vocabulary specific to the field of study. c. C  onnects content and concepts of specialized knowledge to the ideas studied in the City Seminars, Ethnographies of Work and other NCC general education courses. d. Demonstrates knowledge of problem-solving techniques and the ability to form hypotheses for research purposes.


The New Community College

3. Intellectual Skills for Life-Long Learning The communication, quantitative and critical thinking skills included in this category are necessary to engage in learning throughout life in personal, academic, and professional contexts. These competencies will enable students to pursue their interests and questions about the world by accessing, understanding and using knowledge and information. a. Demonstrates the ability to analyze ideas, theories and issues by breaking them down, identifying the component elements and explaining how they relate. b. Communicates effectively using substantially error-free language in oral and written formats. c. P  resents accurate mathematical calculations and operations, and explains how they are used to solve problems and to interpret data. d. Utilizes both quantitative and qualitative data to explore and understand important issues. e. Locates, evaluates and cites multiple information resources in projects, papers and presentations. f. Demonstrates ability to use appropriate technologies, acquire new ones and to resolve technology problems to meet academic, professional and personal goals. g. Displays ability to assess own work and its relative value. 4. Civic Learning, Engagement & Social Responsibility This category describes the knowledge and skills a student should have and demonstrate in response to diverse social, environmental and economic challenges at local, national and global levels. a. Identifies and explains his or her own civic and cultural background, including its origins, development and assumptions. b. Understands and respects diversity and cross-cultural perspectives and demonstrates how they influence interpretations of key problems in politics, society or the arts. c. Describes various historical and contemporary positions on democratic values or practices, and presents his or her position on specific problems. d. Takes an active role in a community context, such as work, service, or co-curricular activities, and examines the civic issues encountered with the insights gained from the community experience. e. Demonstrates integrity, honesty and ethical reasoning in academic and professional contexts. 5. Applied Learning The outcomes in this category describe what students can do with what they know, demonstrated by how they address problems in school and in non-classroom settings, including at work. They include applications of learning from the classroom and of skills developed from participation in activities outside the classroom. a. Uses creativity, content knowledge, research and analytical skills to identify, clarify and provide solutions to realworld problems. b. Collaborates effectively with others to solve problems and complete projects.


The New Community College

References A New Community College Concept Paper. August 2008. The City University of New York. Accessed March 23, 2012 at: http:// Center for Community College Student Engagement. 2012. A Matter of Degrees: Promising Practices for Community College Student Success (A First Look). Austin, TX: The University of Texas at Austin, Community College Leadership Program. Accessed March 23, 2012 at Elizabeth Zachry Rutschow, Lashawn Richburg-Hayes, Thomas Brock et al. Turning the Tide: Five Years of Achieving the Dream in Community Colleges. Jan 2011. MDRC, CCRC. Accessed March 23, 2012 at: Linderman, Donna and Kolenovic, Zineta. Results Thus Far and The Road Ahead: A Follow-up Report on CUNY Accelerated Study in Associate Programs. Jan 2012. Accessed March 23, 2012 at: about/ASAP_Followup_Report_020112.pdf. Sturm, S., Eatman, T., Saltmarsh, J., & Bush, A. 2011. Full participation: Building the architecture for diversity and public engagement in higher education (White paper). Columbia University Law School: Center for Institutional and Social Change. Accessed March 23, 2012 at:


Do we have the courage needed?

Do we have the courage needed? A Reflection on the Faculty Matters Session from the RE imagining Community Colleges - National Colloquium Robert J. Exley, PhD, President, Snead State Community College, Boaz, AL


ive months – that is the time that has passed since the RE imagining Community Colleges National Colloquium in New York City. Our challenges in the community college sector have not diminished over the course of these fleeting weeks. In some ways they have intensified. I have found myself time and again returning to the opening remarks from Matthew Goldstein (2011, September 23), Chancellor of CUNY, as I consider options for increasing student completion. He dared us to “act boldly,” to “challenge existing practices” with a single-minded goal of “reducing student uncertainty.” His passion for the college completion agenda drives these comments into my being, and they bring with them exceptional opportunities.

I was, however, particularly disturbed by the session on Faculty Matters as it seemed as if the moderator’s goal was to belittle and denigrate rather than encourage and inspire collaborative solutions-thinking. I have absolutely no doubt that faculty members make a difference every single day in our community colleges. They do matter! Community college faculty members at my alma mater, San Jacinto College (Pasadena, Texas), are the very foundation of my success today. Without their belief in me and their guidance, I would never have been successful. I also know that we expect more today from our faculty members than we have ever expected in the past. For the most part, our faculty members individually and collectively accept this challenge. Regardless of the session itself and whether it was negative or positive, it had a very important impact on me personally. It brought home to me in a way I have never experienced before that as president I must find ways to support, encourage, challenge and inspire our faculty members at Snead State Community College (Boaz, Alabama). I left the colloquium with three broad take-home lessons for our work. First, while there appears to be a sincere and broad desire to embrace the College Completion Agenda, it is apparent that little consensus and courage exist to honestly complete a self-examination of our practices and policies! Protecting the status quo remains strong! This includes both personal and institutional aspects. Second, we have a serious challenge regarding honoring the perceptions of our faculty members and still clarifying expectations for change. And third, all too often the student voice is the critical missing component. At the colloquium, we heard very briefly from a few students; we did not thoroughly engage students in the day. This is the case on a regular basis in many aspects of how we operate our colleges. Where do I start? If I am honest with myself, I know that significant change starts within. To begin, I must challenge my own long-held ideologies regarding community college instructors and the collective faculty. I must do a much better job hearing – really hearing – my faculty members in today’s community college. I must listen first when I am with my faculty members. It is my responsibility to understand their needs, concerns, and


Do we have the courage needed?

frustrations and hear their ideas for solutions prior to voicing my thoughts and ideas. The truth of the matter is that no one has more opportunity to build relationships with our students than the faculty members. The faculty members that have had a life-long influence on me were those who not only inspired with their teaching, they also encouraged and challenged me via the conversations and interactions outside of the formal classroom. In short, they made it abundantly clear that I was a person worth their investment of time, energy and caring. My presidential responsibility then is to serve my institution in a way that allows our faculty members the freedom and encouragement to creatively work with students to increase college completion. I am, however, struck again and again by how stuck we can be in persisting with old practices and ideologies. For example, I am disappointed with my reluctance to honestly listen to and hear the voices of our students. Oh, we can find time to listen when they are complimentary. The hard part is when they are dissatisfied. They ask tough questions and do not accept the answer of “we have always done it this way.” If I struggle with this as president, and I do, then I must appreciate a similar difficulty for our instructors. Together we must listen past the noise of today’s demanding and entitled students to hear their needs and their ideas for how to best assist them. It is not “us vs. them” in any part of the eternal triangle of “administration – faculty – student.” The old practices of rigid chain of command and expectations that students will always respect it in a linear fashion are vestiges of a past culture that will never return. In its place we must embrace practices that enhance relationships among and between all members of the triangle – student to student, student to faculty, student to administration, faculty to administration, faculty to faculty, and administration to administration. Building effective relationships among ourselves, our colleagues, and our students requires new practices and evolving ideologies. No doubt this will be accomplished only through jointly challenging the status quo through bold actions. To complicate things, I am embarrassed to admit that I have difficulty accepting uncomfortable data regarding student success. Too many times my initial reaction is “The data must surely be flawed.” I want to shift the blame to our colleagues from K-12 and deride the poor preparation of our students. When I have difficulty accepting the data, then why should I expect a faculty member to eagerly embrace disappointing data regarding student learning? James Kilts (2007) in his work Doing What Matters refers to intellectual integrity. In his words, “Integrity, of course, means adhering to a code of behavior for ethics and fairness. … intellectual integrity means all this and more. It is the ability to hold up a mirror to your organization – whether that’s just a few people in a small office or thousands of workers in hundreds of global locations – and the willingness to view the reflection with total honesty” (44). The AACC Volunteer Framework of Accountability is a step in the right direction. However, the real challenge is honestly accepting our data as produced and courageously doing something about it. For example, when Snead State received its Community College Survey of Student Engagement 2011 Key Findings report, we had an opportunity to look in the mirror per Kilts. We have long proclaimed our excellence and exceptional commitment to our students. We have trumpeted how available we are to students. The data suggests we could do better - much better. We are below the “top-performing institutions” on all five of the Benchmarks of Effective Practices. Furthermore, we scored below the entire 2011 CCSSE Cohort on three of the five – Active & Collaborative Learning, Student Effort and Academic Challenge. Scores for the remaining two – Student-Faculty Interaction and Support for Learners – were the same as those for the entire cohort.


Do we have the courage needed?

To further challenge us at our recent annual strategic planning retreat, the Student Government President (the student representative on the committee) spoke eloquently and directly to the fact that “students are afraid and uncomfortable” going to speak with instructors. The faculty members on the committee had a hard time accepting that this is true. The idea that a student would be uncomfortable talking with faculty members is so far from our ideal self – what we believe we are – it is just a bit overwhelming. The dialogue was never acrimonious or accusatory. The exchange that took place was one where true listening and mutual concern dominated the experience. I believe that this one exchange and the dialogue it created will have direct and positive impact on the College. In simple terms, according to our students, we are not as good as we think we are and we can get better! The question now is “How are we going do so?” We - all of us - must have the courage to gather objective data regarding our students’ success and to honestly accept it rather than argue it away. In my twenty-five plus years in community college education, I have time and time again experienced the situation where rather than acknowledging the data, we shoot the messenger. Arguing the data away allows us to adhere to past practices whether or not they are successful. Status quo is simply no longer acceptable. When the data does not match our self-perception, each of us may be inclined to glance away from the mirror. We must resist this tendency each and every day. Our success rates by any measure do not come up to the standard necessary for our students to succeed in today’s complex world. And as important as any other measure is that of simply “finishing what you start!” It is not acceptable for a student to fail to complete his/her program of study. Our goal for our students must always be to encourage them and assist them in finishing that AA, AS, AAS, or Certificate. This in many ways is a challenge to the fundamental “status quo” whereby we have modeled a “one and done” culture. We have reinforced the notion that transferring before completing the Associate’s degree or leaving to go to work prior to completing the AAS or Certificate program is just fine. By doing so, we devalue our own credentials. It simply is not in our students’ best interest over the long-haul to let this status quo continue. I know that the faculty, staff and students at Snead State have already embraced the College Completion agenda, and we are looking into the mirror and refusing to turn away from what the data reveals. The Colloquium proved to be an experience that has benefitted me more in the days and months after the event than the day of the event. This has happened because the day raised many questions that I continue to ponder – questions about me and my role as president. How can I do a better job honestly seeing the reality of faculty work today? I know my role as president is to advocate for the College and the community college mission. Now, I have been challenged as never before to look honestly at how I must advocate for faculty members as well as our students. What can I do more of, what can I be better at, and how can I listen better to all feedback (quantitative data, individual stories, nuances of the daily life of my institution, etc.) so that I serve our faculty and students more effectively. Do faculty matter when it comes to student success and college completion? Yes, they absolutely do matter! Our individual and collective work has been identified by Chancellor Goldstein. Now it is up to us to challenge the status quo and intensely evaluate our current practices through one lens – does this promote and make possible college completion? Bold actions beg a simple question for further dialogue, and I leave it with you. Can we truly visualize a transformed community college by taking an approach of continuous improvement, or do we need to cognitively deconstruct today’s community college and see where a new dialogue will take us to produce a “Reimagined” one?


Do we have the courage needed?

References For a description of the sample please see Center for Community College Student Engagement. (2012, pg. 30). A Matter of Degrees: Promising Practices for Community College Student Success (A First Look). Austin, TX (2012): The University of Texas at Austin. Goldstein, M. (2011, September 23). Opening Remarks. Reimagining Community Colleges National Colloquium, New York City, NY. Kilts, J. M. (2007). Doing What Matters. New York: Crown Business.


Quality and an Open Door

Quality and an Open Door John F. Ebersole, LPD, President, Excelsior College, Albany, NY


ccess to higher education is increasingly seen as a right in the U.S. No longer is such an opportunity an entitlement just for those of wealth, privilege, or exceptional ability. Yet, at a time when a college degree has become a minimum requirement for entry into an ever increasing number of vocations and professions, barriers are being erected which are impeding access and endangering our economy.

One of the largest obstacles, and the one most spoken about, is that of cost. Four years of tuition at some private colleges now exceeds the new home price of just ten years ago ($207K, 11/03 – U.S. Census Data). Simultaneously, cash strapped state and local governments are reducing their support for higher education. According to one source, “state support to flagship universities in Michigan, Vermont, Oregon and Virginia now accounts for less than 10 percent of their annual operating budgets.”1 One state institution in Vermont reports that it now receives approximately one percent of its annual budget from Montpelier. In order to off-set declining state support, and to facilitate the shift in cost to the student, federal financial aid has increased to over $150 billion dollars per year. For students, most of this comes in the form of loans that must be repaid. John Dizard, writing in the Financial Times, states that, “There is now more than $1t [that’s “trillion”] of student debt on the books in the U.S., which is literally higher than the nation’s credit card debt.”2 But cost is not the only barrier. Many institutions are increasing their tuition and limiting access in other ways. Increased admissions selectivity is seen by some as an important element in increasing an institution’s reputation. By limiting admissions to those with the highest GPA and SAT scores, colleges and universities position themselves as more prestigious, while also realizing a variety of side benefits. Academically strong students are easier to teach, more likely to graduate, and ultimately, offer reflected credibility back to the institution from later career success. Administrators also see benefits from being more selective. Higher graduation rates appease politicians, regulators and accreditors while drawing plaudits from the media. This is of increasing importance as the federal government asks, with growing frequency, what it is getting for its billions of financial aid. Recruiting is also easier for a selective institution [many of which turn away thousands of applicants each year]. As for private schools, they see less resistance to their sky rocketing tuition as students and their parents associate selectivity and high price with greater quality. If prestige is the enemy of access, does it follow that those offering “open access” (admission offered to any student with a high school diploma or GED) are compromising quality by so doing? Perhaps not. My institution, like that of nearly all community colleges, is one of open access. It has as its mission the provision of opportunity to those historically not well served by traditional higher education. Like the community college, our students tend to be older, with children, working full or part time, from lower socio-economic circumstance and, often, the first member of their family to attend college. Many are self-identified minorities (30%) or recent immigrants.


Quality and an Open Door

A great number lack the academic preparation necessary to college success, especially in composition and math. Many see these as “high risk” students. In the past, such luminaries as Mayors Giuliani of New York and Daly of Chicago have sought to end open enrollment by the community college of their cities, citing the high cost of attempting to remediate such students.3&4 The presidents of two historically black colleges have recently proposed becoming more selective as a way to enhance their respective graduation rates.5 Given the pressure to increase such rates at community colleges6, it will be tempting to think about following suit. However, before taking such a step, there are questions that need to be considered – 1) What constitutes quality? 2) Are graduation rates the only metrics that matter? and 3) What is the likely long-term cost of restricting access to only those we think will graduate? Traditionally, such factors as high numbers of terminally qualified faculty, low student-faculty ratios, large numbers of books in the library, substantial computer and lab facilities and, as noted above, an academically select student body have all been seen as indicators of a quality institution. Yet, these are all inputs. What is it that students know and can do after earning a credential from such an institution? This, is the question of today. Perhaps the time has come to measure quality in new ways – through a comparison of learning outcomes, and not from either inputs or graduation rates alone. If institutional quality is determined by the learning achieved by graduates, measured against such standardized criteria as the Lumina Foundation’s proposed “Degree Qualification Profile,”7 we might well gain an entirely new perspective as to what constitutes a “quality” institution or program. To focus only on inputs is to avoid the issue of knowledge attainment and what the available resources have produced. To focus only on graduation rates is to risk the unintended consequences that have been seen as schools distort data or engage in other undesired behavior in an attempt to gain or maintain a top ranking or, perhaps, in the not too distant future, maintain access to Title IV financial aid. New grading criteria or selective “adjustments” to curricula might well increase graduate rates without any concomitant increase in learning. It may also be time to recognize that open access institutions are not in the same sector of higher education as Ivy League schools or public research universities. While we share commonalities, those serving the audiences described above are not in the same “industry” as those educating 18-24 year-old, full-time students that now comprise but 15% of degree seeking students. Open institutions serve different populations, with different instructional models, using different instructional resources. They are in a distinct segment of higher education with uniquely different missions and values.8 As such, measurements of quality, including graduation rates, might be better made between like institutions. Shouldn’t we compare graduation rates between colleges of similar circumstance and mission rather than against those of the Ivy League, or even public four-year schools? For the moment, graduation rates, rightly or wrongly, are seen as an indicator of institutional quality. While waiting for agreement around standard benchmarks and means of measuring, those at open access institutions can take comfort in knowing that, “The largest gains in graduation rates over the past decade have been accomplished at open-access or nearly open access colleges and universities,” according to research conducted by William Doyle and colleagues at Vanderbilt University. He states that, “[our research] challenges a commonly held notion that the best way to increase graduation rates is to make colleges more selective—-.” “Nonselective colleges and universities (those that accept at least 80% of applicants) are leading the way in improving graduation rates. These [institutions] account for most of the increases in completion rates in 33 states. In 16, these institutions account for 75% of the increases”9 41

Quality and an Open Door

There is no question that our institutions need to focus greater attention on degree completion. However, we do not want this to become a reason for less rigor or quality in our institutions. Neither do we want our performance measured through comparisons to very different, traditional institutions with very different, traditional students. Accurate assessments of our performance may best be made once we have attended to the data collection and updating problems which distort today’s results. The final question is what is the cost of not maintaining open access? Yes, we might save the expense of remediation if we continue to “kick the can down the road,” as some politicians like to say, while not addressing the failures if our secondary system. But what will that mean longer term?

- Can we meet President Obama’s goal to increase degree completion by 60% if we turn more prospective students away?

- Will we be able to remain globally competitive without a more educated workforce, especially when 63% of all jobs now require some level of post-secondary education?

- What are the likely employment prospects for those we turn away, and what will this mean for future social stability?

- Without an educated workforce, how do we sustain our economy and standard of living?

- Do we ask our colleges and universities to give up and not bother with those whose GPA is below 3.0 or whose SAT – if they have one – is below 1800?

Then, there is the issue of social aculturization and integration. With nearly one-third of the nation’s population expected to be Hispanic by mid-century,10 we should be mindful of the “moral purpose” of education that John Dewey wrote about in the last century. While referring to secondary education at the time, he stated that access to education is pivotal to preserving democracy in a multicultural society.11 Through open access to higher education today, those coming to America from different ethnicities and nationalities are acculturated and integrated into our society. They also gain the knowledge and skills necessary to positive civic engagement and employment. Without such an opportunity, there is a real danger that these new arrivals will become a drain on social services and the economy. Over time, this can be expected to create social tension and unrest. America’s citizens must have the opportunity to participate in higher education if we want to preserve our democratic way of life and our standard of living. Access is not just about who gets into college. It is also about who gets the knowledge and skills necessary not only for their own economic well-being but also for that of our nation. Not all will succeed but all should have the chance.


Quality and an Open Door

References 1. Tuckman, G. (2012). Pressured and Measured: Professors at Wannabe U. The Hedgehog Review, Spring 2012, V14, No1. 2. Dizard, J. (2012). Lessons to be learnt as student debt soars higher than Hungary’s. Financial Times, 3/17/12, p.13 3. Adams, C. (2010). Community Colleges rethink “open door” admissions as remedial costs rise. Education Week, 8/13/10 4. Sandham, J.L. (1998) New York mayor wants CUNY to drop remedial courses. Education Week, 2/18/98 5. Powers, E. (2008) Reconsidering open enrollment. Inside Higher Ed, 2/27/08 6. Editorial Board (2010). Raise the community college graduation rate. The Christian Science Monitor, 4/26/2010 7. Lumina Foundation (2011). Lumina Foundation releases degree profile: A new framework for defining the learning and quality that College degrees should signify. Lumina Foundation Press Release, 1/25/11 8. Magretta, J. (2012). Understanding Michael Porter. Harvard Business Review Press, Boston, p.56 9. Doyle, W.R. (2010). Open access colleges responsible for greatest gains in graduation rates. Policy Alert. National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, 2/10 10. U.S. Census Press Release (2008). An older and more diverse nation by midcentury. US Government, 8/14/08 11.Dewey, J. (1916). Democracy and Education. The Free Press, New York


Measuring student success

Measuring Student Success: One Completion at a Time Sheila Quirk-Bailey, PhD, Chief of Staff and Executive Director of Planning and Institutional Effectiveness, William Rainey Harper College Kenneth L. Ender, PhD, President, William Rainey Harper College, Palatine, IL


oday we face a crisis across the educational landscape: the proportion of adults with postsecondary credentials is not keeping pace with that of other industrial nations and the United States is facing an alarming education deficit that threatens our global competitiveness and economic future.” This introduction from the College Board’s The College Completion Agenda: State Policy Guide (2010, p. 3) demonstrates the national importance of policy to increase college completion. According to the Center for Education and the Workforce, “the United States has been under producing college-going workers since 1980. Supply has failed to keep pace with growing demand, and as a result, income inequality has grown precipitously” (Carnevale & Rose, 2011, p. 3). Over the next decade, U.S. jobs requiring some level of postsecondary education is expected to grow to 63 percent. By 2018, it is expected that the United States will need 22 million new college degrees and over 4.7 million additional workers with postsecondary certificates but will fall short of these needs by over 3 million (Carnevale, Smith, & Strohl, 2010). These issues are largely the result of a national completion problem that is decreasing our nation’s global competitiveness and economic viability. As Complete College America (2011) points out, “unless we move with urgency, today’s young people will be the first generation in American history to be less educated than their predecessors” (p. 2).

There were many timely and impactful topics addressed at “A National Colloquium: Reimagining Community Colleges” hosted by the City University of New York, yet probably none more timely than accountability. This paper addresses the evolving issue of community college accountability from broad national initiatives to one college’s implementation of a specific measurement tool. The issue of accountability is not a newcomer to the community college stage. Lannon (2001) noted that “Accountability in higher education and, more specifically in community colleges, is definitely here to stay. Institutions can expect to see a growing trend of accountability initiatives both at the federal and statewide levels” (p. 69). Community colleges enroll more than 40% of U.S. undergraduates. Community colleges’ open admissions policies and comparatively low tuition have resulted in postsecondary education for students who previously might not have attended college. Enrollment at Community Colleges has dramatically increased over the past 50 years. Unfortunately, college completion rates have not kept pace with enrollment rates and achievement gaps can be found among students based on race/ethnicity and family income (Jenkins, 2011). In order to address these achievement gaps, calls for more transparency and increased levels of completion and accountability abound from multiple national initiatives.


Measuring student success

In 2010, the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) joined with the Association for Community College Trustees, the Center for Community College Student Engagement, the League for Innovation in the Community College, the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development, and the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society to create a commitment to student completion with a goal of conferring 50% more high-quality degrees and certificates by 2020 (McPhail, 2011). President Obama, several state governors, and private foundations, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Lumina Foundation for Education have all weighed in with goals and measures that call for additional accountability, which through the completion agenda, set out to retool the workforce and advance national competitiveness. As Dougherty, Bork, and Natow (2009) noted “policymakers, higher education associations, blue-ribbon commissions, and researchers are calling for a greater focus on institutional accountability” (p. i). The AACC is providing leadership on the issue of community college accountability with the development of the Voluntary Framework of Accountability. As Kent Phillippe of AACC explained, the Voluntary Framework of Accountability (VFA) was developed to provide a set of uniform metrics to measure community college success. The VFA provides a customized framework to measure how community colleges perform in serving their more than 13 million students. During the National Colloquium the VFA was described as a tool that would have multiple pay-offs including assisting community colleges with reporting their successes to the public and policymakers and providing consumers transparency in reporting outcomes. Dr. Karen Stout, president of Montgomery County Community College and accountability session panelist, explained that campus discussion of the VFA created “cause to wonder” opportunities as dialogue turned to current levels of performance on her campus. Dr. Cynthia Bioteau, president of Salt Lake and colloquium attendee, added to the discussion by explaining “metrics of mission” which address the importance of community colleges having a customized set of measures specific to mission, rather than being benchmarked by inappropriate university standards. The pay-off for all concerned would be increased quality in the community college as the VFA begins to identify best practices that can be replicated nationally. William Rainey Harper College (Harper) supports the work of the VFA and the national completion agenda. In fact, we would contend that the completion agenda cannot be accomplished without accountability tools like the VFA. Community colleges need a common set of goals and measures if we are to meet this ambitious goal, as we wish to support and lead the nation’s completion agenda. In fact, Harper has done the math and knows that Harper’s proportional share of the Obama Administration’s goal of credentialing 5 million additional Americans in ten years is 10,604. Said another way, Harper College must continue its current rate of 2,100 degrees and certificates per year and add an additional 10,604 to be able to claim we have done our proportional share of the President’s goal. So rather than have 21,000 completers by year 2020, we must have 31, 604, almost a 50% increase!


Measuring student success

Figure 1. Harper College Completion Goal





Target to

to Goal


Goal (+)

2020 – 4,076


2019 – 3,885


2018 – 3,702


2017 – 3,528


2016 – 3,362


2015 – 3,205


2014 – 3,054


2013 – 2,910


2012 – 2,774


2011 – 2,643


2010 – 2,519


2009 – 2,401


Goal + 10604

2011 + 840


Measuring student success

So, what does a college need to change to increase the likelihood of meeting its completion goal? The VFA can provide some very good clues as to where we need to start. Collins (2009) explains that to improve outcomes, states and institutions should pay attention to intermediate measures and to milestones that … students must pass en route to final success measures like graduation and transfer” (p. 2). Collins contends that increasing knowledge of the relationship between intermediate measures and final success (e.g., graduation, transfer, and persistence toward a credential) can inform state incentives to better track and improve student success in meeting shorter-term goals. Appropriately, the VFA pays a lot of attention to student progress metrics. Harper College has done so as well. Based on the metrics approaches taken by the VGA as well as IPEDS and the National Community College Benchmark Project, and working with the college community and Board of Trustees, Harper College has identified 23 institutional effectiveness measures (IEM’s) to guide our work. These measures address eight performance categories: Student Progress, Progress of Developmental Students, Performance after Transfer, Market Penetration, Workforce Development, Facilities, Financials, and Employee Diversity. To illustrate the relationship between these measures and the completion agenda, we will focus on two categories: Student Progress and Progress of Developmental Students. Based on the work of Leinbach and Jenkins (2008), the college has developed a Milestones and Momentum Points model to monitor our performance and inform our completion strategies. The Milestones and Momentum Points model is a useful framework to transform student-level data into meaningful information about student enrollment and achievement. Instead of simply assessing student achievement through persistence and completion rates, a Milestones and Momentum Points model provides more detail about the specific points at which students are being successful and which areas show gaps where students are not completing their academic goals. Being able to see these patterns allows an institution to use the data to inform policies or practices. Harper College has carefully examined the momentum points of our students as they progress towards a completion credential. We know that momentum is demonstrated by persistence, satisfaction, and advancement, and that achieving 15 hours of college credit and 30 hours of college credit are significant milestones on the pathway to completion. We are also keenly aware of the struggles of developmental education students as they seek momentum. So, we track very carefully the Progress of Developmental Students by isolating and monitoring success in developmental writing reading and math, and subsequent success in gateway credit course in math and English. Currently, 50% of the College’s developmental math students never get to credit bearing math courses. Charting the success of these students and having broad based discussions about how to support them to completion has led to changes in policy and practice at the College and new partnerships with Harper’s feeder high schools. Below is the pipeline chart for the developmental math credential seeking students. Such pipeline analysis also exists for students who begin in development English coursework and for students who begin college ready. Let’s take math as an example. Figure 2 provides a developmental math example.


Measuring student success

Figure 2. Developmental Math Pipeline. Developmental Math Student Pipeline 2008 Cohort

Dev Math Students Earned Credential: 13% Passed Gatekeeper 12%

Gatekeeper Math

Enrolled Gatekeeper 22%

Gatekeeper not completed 9%

Not enrolled Gatekeeper 11%

Passed MTH 080 33%

MTH 080

Enrolled MTH 080 56%

MTH 080 not completed 24%

Not enrolled MTH 080 9%

Passed MTH 060 65%

MTH 060

MTH 060 not completed 35%

Enrolled MTH 060 92%

Referred to MTH 060 365

Not enrolled MTH 060 8%

Sample: 2008 cohorts, tracked for three years Source: Harper College Cognos ODS [Student Detail] Package


Measuring student success

365 of Harper’s degree or certificate seeking students began their math coursework in the lowest level of math based on their COMPASS score. Of these students, 8% never enrolled in the lowest level, of those who did enroll 65% passed. Moving to the next level of developmental math 9% of 060 completers did not enroll and 33% passed 080. Moving on to the gatekeeper math courses, 11% of developmental math students did not enroll and 12% passed gatekeeper math. Overall, 13% of the 365 developmental math students who begin in 060 earned a degree or certificate in three years. Understanding what happens to these students and where in the process the college “loses them” is critical to designing interventions that will improve the success of these students. Currently, Harper College is piloting testing high school juniors in math and increasing the number of students who take math their senior year, implementing summer bridge programs for students who are not college ready and accelerating our developmental programs. We will track the results of these interventions along the same Milestones and Momentum Points model. Yet, the Milestones and Momentum Points model is but one example of how community colleges can leverage IEM’s to break down data into meaningful information to inform student success dialogues across campus. Harper is using the IEM’s to guide and measure interventions and their related success. We know that if we study the results carefully we will be able to build a “fly wheel” (Collins, 2001) of continuous improvement. There are no perfect methods, and each college is different in regard to their student mix and financial resources. However, the more community colleges can develop and share metrics that are standard across the industry, the more able we are to find, share and leverage best practices. Currently Harper College is on its way to building pathways that assure the completion agenda will be met. We have a lofty goal and metrics to guide our work. We look forward to benchmarking our work with our sister institutions so that we can accelerate our success. Currently we are 840 “completers” ahead of schedule (see Figure 1). We have a long way to go, and we will get there, one completer at a time.


Measuring student success

References Bioteau, Cynthia. National Colloquium: Reimagining Community Colleges: Accountability Presentation. City University of New York. 365 5th Avenue New York, NY 23 September 2011. Broward College. (2011). Finish what you start study: A look at the Broward College Student Success Pipeline: Retrieved from: Carnevale, A. & Rose, S. (2011). The Undereducated American. Center on Education and the Workforce. Retrieved from: http:// Carnevale, A., Smith, N. & Strohl, J. (2010). Help wanted: Projections of jobs and education requirements through 2018. Retrieved from Collins, M. L. (2009). Setting up success in developmental education: How state policy can help community colleges improve student outcomes. Achieving the Dream Policy Brief. Retrieved from: The College Board & the National Conference of State Legislators. (2010). The College completion agenda: State policy guide. Retrieved from:http://completionagenda. Jenkins, D. (2011). Redesigning community colleges for completion: Lessons from research on high-performance organizations. Community College Research Center, 48. Retrieved from: Laanan, F. S. (2001). Accountability in Community Colleges: Looking toward the 21st Century. In B. K. Townsend, & S. B. Twombley, S. (Eds.), Community colleges policy in future context (pp. 58-76). Westport, CT: Ablex Publishing. Leinbach, D.T. & Jenkins, D. (2008). Using longitudinal data to increase community college student success: A guide to measuring milestoneand momentum point attainment. CCRC Research Tools No. 2. New York: Community College Research Center, Teachers College Columbia University. Retrieved from McPhail, C. J. (2011). The Completion Agenda: A call to action. American Association of Community Colleges. Washington, DC. Retrieved from: Offerstein, K., Morre, C., & Shulock, N. (2010) Advancing by Degrees: A framework for College Completion. Institute for Higher Education Policy and the Education Trust. Retrieved from: Phillippe, Kent. National Colloquium: Reimagining Community Colleges: Accountability Presentation. City University of New York. 365 5th Avenue New York, NY 23 September 2011. Retrieved from: Stout, Karen. National Colloquium: Reimagining Community Colleges: Accountability Presentation. City University of New York. 365 5th Avenue New York, NY 23 September 2011. Retrieved from:


Fostering support for Female Community College Students

Fostering Support for Female Community College Students Ted N. Ingram, PhD, Assistant professor in the Department of Student Development, Bronx Community College, CUNY, Bronx, NY


ccording to National Council of Education Statistics (2011), between 1999 and 2009, collegiate enrollment increased 38 percent, from 14.8 million to 20.4 million. Much of that growth was in full-time enrollment (45 percent) and female students (40 percent). The growth of women enrolling in higher education is also reflected at two-year institutions. Given the increased representation of collegiate women, their success is important. While research focused on students in higher education has been traditionally focused primarily on experiences at the senior college level, we find that alternatively little attention has been given to the experiences of students attending community college. This disparity within the research is alarming considering the challenges associated with the characteristics of most community college students. Community colleges are more likely to enroll students who are coming from low-income households (26%), as compared to college students attending 4-year colleges (Cohen and Brawer, 2003). According to researchers, community college students are more likely to be older, low income, female, Latino or African American and are more likely to be financially independent (Adelman, 2005; Horn & Nevell, 2006). The obstacles that community college students face have implications that customarily impact their academic and social integration. The purpose of this reflective essay is to discuss the outcomes of a program focused on female students at BCC, that outperformed the intentions of its founders, and that helped to create a sense of community for a cohort of students who are traditionally in need of additional support service. Research posits that once on campus, students’ social and academic interactions are continuously impacting their level of commitment (Harris & Lester, 2009; Harper and Quaye, 2009; Tinto, 1993). Thus, the greater the level of social and academic involvement, the more likely the student will remain in school. As faculty at a community college, Professors Melissa Gonzalez-Matthews and Ted Ingram were concerned with the lack of student engagement on campus. Understanding the importance of engagement and of the significance of ensuring that students who are less connected to the college complete their education was the impetus for this program. Our concern focused on groups that are traditionally known to be less successful (i.e. low-income, underrepresented racial groups, first-generation, underprepared students), we were compelled to be supportive. Recognizing the issues that plague many students of color, the City University of New York (C.U.N.Y.) offered funding for initiatives to better support the population. The C.U.N.Y. Diversity Grant is established to assist institutions of higher education with the development of educational projects, scholarly research, creative endeavors, and professional activities, which promote diversity, multiculturalism, and non-discrimination. Given that sixty percent of Bronx Community College’s 9,592 students are females (the vast majority being first generation college students), coupled with C.U.N.Y.’s diversity effort, we proposed a support group with a focus on women of color. This initiative was designed as a mechanism interested in understanding the experiences of women and how those experiences impacted their psychological well-being while enrolled in school. In the spring of 2009, the Bronx Community College Female Fellowship (BCCFF) was formed to increase retention and personal satisfaction among community college students. Interestingly, we learned that our vision and the realities of


Fostering support for Female Community College Students

running the support group did not always align. Fortunately, this realization resulted in the creation of a more studentcentered endeavor. The group was originally recruited by advertising in the required first- year experience courses. All first-year students are required to attend four campus programming events; participation in BCCFF was considered to be an event for that purpose. Professor Gonzalez-Matthews along with an on-campus female social worker facilitated the BCCFF meetings. Dr. Ingram, although a coauthor of the grant, was not present at any of the meetings because we felt a male presence would detract from the mission of the group, which was to foster a sense of community among women on campus. Using a tenet from Relational-culture theory will be the basis for creating connections. Therefore, when people contribute to the development of growth-fostering relationships, they grow as a result of their participation in such relationships (Comstock, Hammer, Strentzsch, Cannon, Parsons, & Salazar, 2008). As a method of addressing the relational experiences of women we formed the foundation of our program on this idea. Our original vision for the support group consisted of 12 participants who met regularly for workshops and group discussions. The purpose of the workshops was to expose the participants to women of color who were leaders within their campus community while also providing a forum in which discussions allowed participants to share their stories and develop relationships with others in a healing atmosphere. The focus group was capped at 12 students; hoping to foster a sense of intimacy, community and trust among participants. It was the intention of the mentors that the established trust among the cohort would encourage sharing; little did we know that the women who joined the BCCFF had needs and interests that would pull the project in another direction. The first group meeting was scheduled to be a discussion of the overall mission of BCCFF and tips on maintaining existing relationships while in college. The group of 10 women who attended the first meeting immediately shared their excitement for a female oriented support group. While a lesson on maintaining relationships while in college was planned, the women began sharing their own experiences and tips for coping with the difficulties of maintaining outside relationships while pursing a college degree. Their excitement in connecting to one another was welcome and rather than stop the flow of discussion to refocus them on a handout on healthy relationships, we instead facilitated the conversation rather than leading it. Following our ninety-minute meeting, the women in the group expressed their gratefulness at having a safe space to share their frustrations and concerns. Each of our subsequent meetings followed a similar path; regardless of whether a didactic lesson was planned, the women wanted to discuss and share their experiences. They talked not only about school but their relationships with family members who did not quite understand their lives as students, their relationships with their partners, the classes that they struggled in, and the financial hardship they found themselves in. Many also spoke of their experiences being young and unwed mothers enrolled in college. The women who had attended the first meeting began bringing their friends to meetings, thereby breaking the cap we had originally set. As we came to realize, this was a group that was hungry for intimacy with other women on campus and they did not need much prompting to open up and share with the group. Professor Gonzalez along with the assistance of 2 female psychological counselors was able to offer their experiences to participants. As successful female professionals they were able to role model what strategies are essential in order to achieve academic and even life achievements. It is important for these women to share self-protective strategies that combat societal issues (racism, sexism, classism, etc.) Additionally, peer students were able to contribute to the discussions by offering insights to other participants with similar circumstances. Understanding the obstacles and solutions offered much relief for the source of pain in many participants’ lives. The conversations were extremely important for creating relationships between faculty/staff and students as well as increasing social interaction between students. 52

Fostering support for Female Community College Students

After evaluating what was occurring in the BCCFF meetings, it became clear that the structure of the organization should change to meet the participants’ interests in a supportive discussion group. When we evaluated the program, we determined that there were four areas seemed to offer the biggest impact for the students. 1) Allowing for flexibility: The women who were involved with BCCFF had very full lives; many worked full time and were mothers. They wanted the option to attend meetings rather than be mandated. Although they made BCCFF meetings a priority, many were not able to attend all meetings due to outside factors in their lives.  2) Fostering a sense of community: We encouraged the students of BCCFF to maintain relationships outside of group time. Many of the students choose to register for classes together and formed study groups in those classes. 3) Offering support: More than once, the conversation included troubling disclosures of abuse and other similar issues. It was incredibly important to provide one-on-one counseling support for the women outside of BCCFF. Having one of the school’s counselors facilitate the group became a great outreach tool that resulted in some students making one-on-one appointments for personal counseling. 4) Actively facilitating rather than passively participating: Having the group facilitated by a social worker and a professor with a counseling psychology background was an important part of the success of the BCCFF program. The facilitators were able to intervene when necessary, challenge the women, ask thought provoking questions, and advise the women on their support options. The findings from this program confirm the importance of student to student engagement as well as student-to faculty/staff interaction. Social integration promoted their persistence and satisfaction with their current educational experience. As outlined by the grant, the program had a successful run for a semester. In fact, the synergy created among participants was so powerful that they yearned for greater interaction. As such, the monthly meetings continued the following semester with many participants from the original meeting aided with support from student affairs. Moreover, the Dean of Students institutionalized this group and female students are continually reaping the benefits of such engagement. BCCFF became immediately recognized as a support mechanism on campus, not only by the involved parties, but by the community at large. Clearly, the onus is placed on the institution to provide sufficient resources to ensure success of not only these participants, but the entire student population. Diverse and complex are the lives of students enrolled in community college, more research, programming and support are warranted to discover and address the issues they collectively experience. This reflective essay demonstrates the obstacle that many of our students must overcome to pursue their personal goals. More support is needed to promote services to achieve healthy psychological outcomes among community college students and greater support should be extended to all groups. The BCCFF is one successful strategy that demonstrated awareness by the college community, and responded with a program designed to meet the needs of these particular students. However, additional work is needed. We challenge colleagues to assess the needs within their respective areas and solicit support to improve the educational outcomes of the students we are responsible to serve.


Fostering support for Female Community College Students

References Adelman C. 2005. Moving Into Town and Moving On: The Community College in the Lives of Traditional-age Students. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education. Comstock, D.L., Hammer, T.R., Strentzsch, J., Cannon, K., Parsons, J. & Salazar, G. (2008). Relational-Cultural theory: A framework for bridging relational, multicultural, and social justice competencies. Journal of Counseling & Development, 86, 279-287. Harris, F. and Lester, J. (2009). Gender-specific approaches to enhancing identity development among undergraduate women and men. In S.R. Harper and S.J. Quaye (Eds.), Student engagement in higher education . New York: Routledge. Harper, S.R. and Quaye, S. (2009). Beyond sameness, with engagement and outcomes for all: An introduction. In S.R. Harper and S.J. Quaye (Eds.), Student engagement in higher education . New York: Routledge. Horn, L. and Nevill, S. (2006). Profile of Undergraduates in U.S. Postsecondary Education Institutions: 2003–04: With a Special Analysis of Community College Students (NCES 2006-184). U.S. Department of Education. Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics. National Center for Educational Statistics (2011). Integrated postsecondary education data system. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education. Tinto, V. (1993). Leaving college: Rethinking the causes and cures of student attrition (2nd ed.). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.


Libraries and ROI in Higher Education

Libraries and ROI in Higher Education THeresa L. McManus, MLIS, MS, Professor and Chief Librarian, Bronx Community College, CUNY, Bronx, NY


ibraries remain vital to the academic mission. The networked world of scholarship, creative works, data collections and multimedia is complex. Faculty and students need access to proprietary copyrighted resources and archived sources as well as information resources accessible outside of the traditional archives of scholarship. Understanding the universe of scholarly sources requires continual updating of knowledge and skills. Librarians provide essential services to the higher education community, both in terms of providing access and instruction to assist in the development of knowledge and skill to effectively navigate and use resources. Significant costs are incurred to support libraries, in 2012 CUNY and its constituent colleges invested approximately $59 million dollars. Given that scholarship is at the heart of the academic enterprise, it makes sense to ask what can be done to maximize return on the investment in libraries? Academic libraries’ resource budgets are squeezed by price structures for copyrighted scholarly resources, and inflation that progressively reduces purchasing power. Escalating cost for higher education and competitive pressures to improve performance in learning outcomes, retention and time to graduation make this question of how to maximize return especially pressing. The dynamic nature of the scholarly universe means the answer is not a constant. The higher education community needs to be aware of ways to strategically address costs and returns on investment in libraries. One way is to reduce cost, a second way is to improve outcomes.

Reducing Cost Open access initiatives have gained momentum and their potential impact for expanding access to scholarship and resources supporting teaching, learning and research have profound implications for libraries and for costs in higher education. Inflationary trends that have hamstrung library resource budgets throughout the last century will be reduced when critical mass threshold is achieved, because the scholarship and resources produced by researchers and scholars will often be accessible without subscription or purchase cost. Freeing scholarship, research and the wealth of creative works created by academe from market forces will reduce costs and result in improved support for the advancement of knowledge. Academic librarians are capable of great things, but we cannot reach the critical mass threshold in this initiative without collaboration with professors, leaders, administrators, staff and students. We need the higher education community to comprehend the issues and collaborate to keep the momentum moving forward to empower researchers, teachers, authors and creators to reclaim rights to their own creative and scholarly output. There is no shortage of information sources on open access initiatives. Many people understand the transformations that are ongoing, in terms of how scholarly sources are created and shared, in how it is organized and accessed. As stakeholders, members of the higher education community have a responsibility to understand and address obstacles that restrain momentum as forces larger than any single university system transform the traditional map of the bibliographic universe.


Libraries and ROI in Higher Education

Stakeholders must coordinate complex actions to facilitate making the envisioned reductions in cost and expansion of access a reality. Professors publishing their research or pedagogical scholarship to support teaching and learning run risks of being challenged in personnel action reviews, as questions of the merit of their work are often raised when their books, works and other scholarly output is not channeled through traditional critical review processes for acceptance for inclusion in selective titles respected in their particular disciplines. Many of these traditional, accepted, selective titles are exclusively published by commercial publishers for whom profit is their raison d’etre. Costs are reduced by refusing to assign exclusive copyright to publishers that are sometimes described as using predatory pricing schemes. It seems simple enough to say, OK, we will support the open access initiative. However until institutions of higher education reconsider policies for judging the value of scholarship and creative works produced by their faculty, obstacles to reducing costs for libraries will continue to be part of the landscape.

Improving Outcomes To maximize return on major investments in academic libraries, the higher education community needs to take to heart the message that desired tangible and intangible outcomes are not sustainable without renewal of knowledge. Renewal is vital to keep pace with the rapidly changes in scholarship, learning tools and best pedagogical practices. Professors cannot teach students what they do not know. Improved productivity and improved learning outcomes can be achieved by raising expectations for professors to be better informed and prepared to make more effective use of resources delivered by libraries. The complexity of keeping up with the constantly changing array of resources and disciplinary research tools (issued with new interfaces, new names and owners) should not be understated. It is a challenge for all of us to update our knowledge and skills due to the rapid pace of change. Librarians see professors frequently who are clearly out-ofdate in terms of being prepared to guide students in how to become knowledgeable experts in the literature of their chosen major. This can be difficult to discuss with our colleagues for political reasons. Speaking up is important however, as there is a great potential here that is not being achieved unless action is taken to mandate or incentivize renewal of knowledge. To the extent that faculty are well informed and prepared to effectively use existing resources, graduates will be better prepared for success and to effectively advance knowledge and effectively contribute creative works in their chosen disciplines. Libraries offer multiple methods to faculty to help them renew their knowledge of resources and learning tools. Even so, without mandates or incentives, many librarians know too well how common it is for faculty to be challenged to be aware of the resources available to them. Ask any librarian if they hear recommendations to purchase titles already being delivered, if they frequently hear expressions of astonishment and surprise about the range and wealth of learning tools well matched to support student work in mastering concepts or writing persuasive essays. Librarians may not be speaking loudly and clearly about these issues, however if asked they will confirm the challenge in helping faculty be aware of the resources at hand. Continuous faculty development needs to go beyond mastering technology, mandates and incentives are needed to achieve a better return on existing investments.

Conclusion In the new community college, let’s increase the return on investment in libraries. CUNY invests millions; wouldn’t it make sense to do everything possible to maximize return on investment? To the extent that the higher education community comprehends the obstacles to reducing costs for access to scholarship and learning tools, and to the extent that faculty are prepared to more effectively use existing resources, returns on investment will be improved. In the new community college, developing and sustaining awareness and knowledge is critical for maximizing investments.


Libraries and ROI in Higher Education

Libraries remain vital to the higher education community. All stakeholders in academe have interests in finding ways to more effectively achieve desired learning outcomes and increased productivity. In the new community college, decisions will be coordinated to facilitate reductions in cost and expansion of access, and knowledge will be treated as a renewable resource. Scholarship remains at the heart of the academic enterprise, it makes sense to work together to maximize return on the investment in libraries.


Neuroscience + Technology is the right Math path

Neuroscience + Technology is the right Math path Alexander Vaninsky, PHD, DSC, Professor of Mathematics, Hostos Community College, CUNY, Bronx, NY


teve Jobs’ biographer recalls him saying: “. . . A way <should> be found to train more American engineers. Apple had 700,000 factory workers employed in China . . . and that was because it needed 30,000 engineers on-site to support those workers . . . These factory engineers did not have to be PhDs or geniuses; they simply needed to have basic engineering skills for manufacturing. Tech schools, community colleges, or trade schools could train them” (Isaacson, 2011, p. 546). Even if it was the only evidence, it would be enough to show the importance of community colleges. However, to enter the world of practically guaranteed employment and well-paying jobs, community college students should pass two checkpoints: Mathematics and English examinations. I will focus on mathematics, the area of my expertise. Mathematics is especially difficult to study because of abstract character of the subject and the necessity to stay focused on a long chain of consecutive arguments. Learning mathematics requires large size of working memory (WM) and strong long - term memory (LTM). Deficiency in WM or LTM leads to educational problems. When the amount of the WM is insufficient, the student stays focused only for a short period of time and can comprehend only a small portion of information. When the LTM is weak, a student cannot pass a comprehensive examination, even doing well during the semester. In both cases, mathematics anxiety arises, completely blocking the student’s ability to perceive the material. To improve mathematics education in the community colleges, much more attention should be paid to the development and improvement of memory. The neuroscience approach to teaching and learning mathematics considers the process of learning as formation of particular domains in the brain (Laughbaum, 2011). It suggests new methods of instructional delivery that impact memory more directly. Among them are mathematics meditation and hypnopedia. Even greater progress may be achieved when neuroscience approach is combined with educational technology, Vaninsky (2012). We can again agree with Steve Jobs that “it is absurd . . . that American classrooms <are> still based on teachers standing at a board and using textbooks. All books, learning materials, and assessments should be digital and interactive, tailored to each student, and providing feedback in real time” (Isaacson, 2012, p. 545). Educational systems like MathXL or MyMathLab provide a practically unlimited number of exercises for practice and self-assessment. They also provide help in real time. A question posted by a student is quickly answered by either instructor or peers. Many more opportunities are provided by interactive online educational systems where instructor and students communicate in the mode of a video conference. Such systems, at least potentially, permit personalized help around the clock with instructors working in shifts and students staying in the comfort of their homes. We can expect that an essential progress will be made with implementation of an interactive online educational system in CUNY in the fall of 2012.


Neuroscience + Technology is the right Math path

References Isaacson W. (2011). Steve Jobs. New York: Simon & Shuster. Laughbaum, E. (2011). Capitalizing on basic brain processes in developmental Algebra â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Part One. MathAMATYC Educator, 2 (2): 4-7. Vaninsky, A. (2012). Neuro Mathematics Education and Technology. Joint Mathematics Meeting, Boston, MA, January 4 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; 7. Presentation #655.


CUNY Board of Trustees Benno Schmidt, Chairperson Philip Alfonso Berry, Vice Chairperson Valerie Lancaster Beal Wellington Z. Chen Rita DiMartino Freida D. Foster Judah Gribetz Joseph J. Lhota Hugo M. Morales Peter S. Pantaleo Kathleen M. Pesile Carol A. Robles-Román Charles A. Shorter Sam A. Sutton Jeffrey S. Weisenfeld Kafui Kouakou Sandi E. Cooper CUNY Central Administration Matthew Goldstein, Chancellor Allan H. Dobrin, Executive Vice Chancellor and Chief Operating Officer Alexandra W. Logue, Executive Vice Chancellor and University Provost Jay Hershenson, Senior Vice Chancellor for University Relations and Secretary of the Board of Trustees Frederick P. Schaffer, Senior Vice Chancellor for Legal Affairs and General Counsel Marc V. Shaw, Senior Vice Chancellor for Budget, Finance and Fiscal Policy Frank D. Sanchez, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Pamela S. Silverblatt, Vice Chancellor for Labor Relations Gillian Small, Vice Chancellor for Research Gloriana B. Waters, Vice Chancellor for Human Resources Management Iris Weinshall, Vice Chancellor for Facilities Planning, Construction and Management Eduardo J. Martí, Vice Chancellor for Community College Brian Cohen, Associate Vice Chancellor & University CIO Matthew Sapienza, Associate Vice Chancellor for Budget and Finance

College Presidents & Deans Michelle J. Anderson, Dean, CUNY School of Law Diane B. Call, Interim President, Queensborough Community College Scott E. Evenbeck, Founding President, New Community College Ricardo R. Fernández, President, Lehman College Karen L. Gould, President, Brooklyn College Russell K. Hotzler, President, New York City College of Technology Carole Joseph, President, Bronx Community College Marcia V. Keizs, President, York College William P. Kelly, President, The Graduate Center Ann Kirschner, Dean, The Macaulay Honors College at CUNY Gail O. Mellow, President, LaGuardia Community College John Mogulescu, Senior University Dean for Academic Affairs and Dean of the CUNY School of Professional Studies Thomás D. Morales, President, College of Staten Island James L. Muyskens, President, Queens College Kenneth Olden, Founding Dean, CUNY School of Public Health at Hunter College Antonio Pérez, President, Borough of Manhattan Community College

Regina S. Peruggi, President, Kingsborough Community College William L. Pollard, President, Medgar Evers College Robert Ptachik, Senior University Dean for the Executive Office & Enrollment Jennifer J. Raab, President, Hunter College Félix V. Matos Rodriguez, President, Hostos Community College Stephen B. Shepard, Dean, CUNY Graduate School of Journalism Lisa Staiano-Coico, President, The City College of New York Jeremy Travis, President, John Jay College of Criminal Justice Mitchel B. Wallerstein, President, Baruch College Acknowledgements Managing Editor, Nina Conroy, MPA, Executive Assistant to the Vice Chancellor for Community Colleges, City University of New York Associate Editor, Jerée Matherson, M.A. Candidate, Higher & Postsecondary Education, Graduate Assistant, Office of the President, Teachers College at Columbia University Graphic Design, Kriz Lazarz, Office of Communications and Marketing



RE imagining Community Colleges  

A follow up to the National Colloquium. Reflective Essays

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