Iowa colleges focus on retraining, retention

Retraining adults for high-demand jobs and improving graduation rates are the priorities for Iowa community colleges, reports the Gazette. Half the students who enrolled in 2009-10 earned a credential or transferred within three years. Colleges are trying to improve that number.

Des Moines Area Community College is among the schools that now requires an orientation course for all students, said Jeremy Varner, administrator of the community colleges division with the Iowa Department of Education. Other colleges are putting resources into more advising and early-warning programs for when students begin to struggle, he said.

“Getting more through to graduation — that’s where a lot of that focus is,” Varner said.

Kirkwood Community College hopes its math “emporium” will improve retention, ’said Math and Science Dean Lori Woeste.

Students work in a computer lab where an instructor is always on hand for one-on-one discussion, and the students work at their own pace. . . . students signs up for the Prep for College Math course, where they demonstrate competency in the “modules” they are confident about and then focus their time on the areas where they need work, Woeste said.

College officials hope state funding will improve next year, easing the tuition burden on students and funding job training. Iowa is focusing on training workers for jobs in nursing, information technology and advanced manufacturing.


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[…] Retraining adults for high-demand jobs and improving graduation rates are the priorities for Iowa community colleges. Half of enrollees earn a credential or transfer in three years. That’s better than most states, but Iowans think theycan do better. […]

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