The American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) on Sunday released a report of suggestions for how two-year institutions can improve completion rates, better work with employers and be more accountable. The guide is linked to a 2012 report from the association that called for substantial changes in how the sector operates. Over the weekend the association kicked off its annual meeting in Washington, D.C., which continues until Tuesday.
Florida was a pioneer in having community colleges offer four-year degree programs (and having them drop "community" from their names). Now, some legislators are raising questions about whether the four-year programs overlap too much with offerings of the state university system, Miami Today reported. College leaders defend the programs, saying that they meet key education needs in their local communities, and that state universities don't have capacity for all of the students But Joe Negron, chair of the Florida Senate Appropriations Committee, said his concern was the impact on university budgets and aspirations. “I think we have great universities, but I want to see them get to an elite level, where we have universities in Florida that are thought of with the University of Virginia, the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill [and the] University of Michigan,” he said. “And we can’t do that if we have two systems that are overlapping."
The U.S. Senate's Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) on Wednesday announced that it had approved Portia Wu as assistant secretary of labor for employment and training. Wu is a lawyer who previously worked for the committee. She replaces Jane Oates, who left the Labor Department last year and is now vice president for external affairs at the Apollo Education Group, which owns the University of Phoenix.
The labor market returns for associate degrees remained strong throughout the recession, according to newly released research from the Center for Analysis of Postsecondary Education and Employment (CAPSEE). Students who earned a two-year degree, or who transferred and completed a bachelor's degree, earned more and were less likely to be unemployed than were their peers who failed to graduate or transfer, according to the research.
The study was based on students who enrolled in North Carolina community colleges in 2002. It drew data from the National Student Clearinghouse as well as unemployment insurance wage data. Students in some disciplines fared better than others, particularly ones who earned credentials in health care.
California's community colleges and campuses in the California State University System both have made progress in encouraging the use of a two-year degree aimed at transfer, according to a new report from the Public Policy Institute of California. About half the state's community colleges now offer 10 or more versions of the transfer degree, the report found. And Cal State campuses have made "significant progress" in increasing the number of transfer degrees they accept in similar majors.
Challenges remain, however. The report said capacity constraints at Cal State may limit the degrees' promise. It also found that the lack of participation by the University of California means that the transfer degrees are not as much of a "statewide" pathway as intended by the ambitious legislation that led to their creation.
More work also needs to be done at two-year colleges, according to the report. Awareness among community colleges students about the degrees remains limited.
Last year California passed a bill to nudge community colleges and Cal State campuses to comply with the legislation's timeframe, which required all of the new transfer degree tracks to be completed this year.
Some Connecticut legislators are considering changes in the state's controversial new law on remedial education, The New Haven Register reported. The law makes it very difficult for colleges to offer remedial education; instead they are supposed to provide extra academic support to students in need of remediation while they take standard college courses. But many students and college officials have raised doubts about the new system, prompting some lawmakers to consider changes.
Men of color attending community colleges are less likely to obtain an associate degree than are white males, despite being the most engaged in and out of the classroom, a new report finds. In "Aspirations to Achievement: Men of Color and Community Colleges," the Center for Community College Student Engagement reveals that even though black and Latino students at two-year institutions show more interest than their white peers in obtaining an associate degree or certificate, only 5 percent actually accomplish that goal within three years, compared to 32 percent for white students.
One of the reasons the gap might exist, the authors of the report say, is because of what they call stereotype threat. That’s the “fear of fulfilling a negative stereotype,” and it can be triggered unintentionally. That fear can affect a student’s performance in the classroom. Recommendations to help close the gap, they say, start with institutions first acknowledging the issue, because not enough of them are looking at how systemic disparities can affect a student of color’s educational experience. The report offers tools for leaders at these colleges to conduct focus groups, and questions to help guide campus-based and community-based discussions on issues such as aspiration, achievement and equity.
“Grappling with these disparities is a task for virtually every community college,” said Kay McClenney, the director of Center for Community College Student Engagement, in a press release. “Campus conversations and actions must address at least three factors: substantially different levels of college readiness across racial and ethnic groups, the demonstrated effects of stereotype threat on performance in higher education, and continuing impacts of structural racism evident in systems throughout American society,” she said.
A state judge has backed the City University of New York on a challenge by its faculty union to the controversial "Pathways" program to align the curriculum to ease transfer from CUNY's two-year to four-year colleges. The Professional Staff Congress, the union, challenged the system's legal authority to institute a major academic change, arguing that faculty members needed to play more of a role. A state judge found this argument "devoid of merit." The faculty union is vowing to appeal the judge's decision, and is also urging the New York City Council to intervene in the dispute.