Symposium participants debated board priorities at roundtables throughout the two-day meeting, which immediately preceded the 2012 ACCT Leadership Congress in Dallas, Texas.
But the true importance of increasing the number of community college students who complete a degree or credential goes beyond the numbers, said Deborah Santiago, vice president for policy and research for Excelencia in Education, at ACCT’s Symposium for Student Success. “There’s a face to all this policy work we do — it’s the students,” she said. Held immediately before the 42nd Annual ACCT Leadership Congress in October, ACCT’s Symposium on Student Success brought together more than 80 trustees, 14 college presidents, and representatives from 10 state associations and 22 national organizations to discuss how trustees can advance the completion agenda on their own campuses. Sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the symposium’s attendees spent much of the two days developing model policy goals that governing boards can use to “consider how well they are helping guide their colleges towards an even stronger commitment to student success,” ACCT President and CEO J. Noah Brown said at the Congress opening session. “We are very proud of this work and our ability to engage in it,” Brown told symposium attendees. “You cannot underestimate the importance of putting the right people in a room for a set amount of time. That’s how you move the needle.”
Partners and Priorities As symposium attendees began the challenging work of identifying priorities for the student success agenda, a range of experts provided perspective on the importance of the issue — and the broad scope of potential partners focused on helping address it. Brown discussed the proliferation of initiatives ACCT has undertaken to advance the student success agenda,
including the fruition of several years’ work on the Voluntary Framework of Accountability; the Governance Institute for Student Success (GISS), undertaken in partnership with the Community College Leadership Program (CCLP) at the University of Texas at Austin and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; and partnerships with Single Stop USA and other organizations. The association also has published a new book, Making Good on the Promise of the Open Door: Effective Governance and Leadership to Improve Equity, Student Success, and Completion by Dr. Byron McClenney of CCLP and Dr. Margaretta Mathis (see p. 6 for more details). Dr. Anne Bryant, executive director of the National School Boards Association, told symposium attendees that community colleges and the K-12 systems her boards represent must work together to address the challenges of students needing remediation at a time when expectations are higher and the needs are greater than ever before. “I believe that collaboration between community colleges and K-12 education is the most likely opportunity to meet these challenges,” she said. “We can get this right by working together. How we align ourselves to serve the neediest students is absolutely critical.” Bryant acknowledged that too many K-12 students graduate from high school “without the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in your classrooms.” She highlighted examples of K-12 districts that have partnered with community colleges, as well as states such as Florida, where K-12 boards have worked with their community college counterparts to develop distance learning programs and other shared initiatives. Completion by Design, the five-year initiative of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is now in the planning phase on 21 campuses in four states. Emphasizing programs that “start with scale” and reach broad swaths of students, Completion
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