“In an era when the public and policy makers are demanding accountability, transparency and results from education at all levels, community colleges are trying to strike a delicate balance between access and success: keeping their doors open to all, while at the same time improving their graduation and retention rates,” writes Paul Bradley in Community College Week’s story on community colleges in 2010.
Top stories of the year included the crackdown on for-profit colleges, community colleges’ main competitors, the scrapping of President Obama’s $12 billion American Graduation Initiative and the White House Community College Summit, seen by some as a consolation prize, Bradley writes.
As the completion agenda gained traction, community colleges faced a tighter budget squeeze with more students and fewer dollars.
According to the most recent federal data, just 22 percent of first-time, full-time students in community college graduate within three years. Though President Obama has been one of the loudest voices urging college completion, the real work is being done in the states. The Community College League of California, for example, announced that it wants the state’s two-year institutions to award one million more certificates and degrees by 2020. The Maryland Association of Community Colleges has pledged to increase the number of community college graduates annually from about 11,200 this past academic year to more than 18,600 in the 2024-25 academic year.
Community colleges expanded training programs to prepare students for “green jobs,” while worrying that the green economy has been oversold.
The federal government took over student loans, increased Pell Grants and provided $2 billion for community colleges to develop educational or career training programs.
Work continued on better ways to measure community college students’ progress and success.
Finally, national foundations — notably the Lumina Foundation and the Gates Foundation — took a leading role in the campaign to improve college completion rates.