What works now to improve student success

In What Works Now, the The Campaign for College Opportunity profiles programs or practices at five California community colleges that are moving more students to a degree, a four-year university or the workforce.

City College of San Francisco gives students a “personalized educational home” during the first two years of college. Chabot College is moving students more quickly through pre-college level English. Chaffey College and Long Beach City College have expanded success centers to help struggling students.  Los Medanos College‘s Equity Scorecard “uses data, broken down by race and ethnicity, to identify campus-wide barriers to student success and to pinpoint areas for improvement.”

Each college started by analyzing data to understand the problems. All tried to remove “barriers that were preventing colleagues from talking to one another” to encourage “cross-campus collaboration.”  While working on improving curriculum and instruction, the five colleges also looked at ways to improve out-of-classroom supports, such as access to tutoring labs, counseling and orientation. Finally, it’s essential to have a community college leader who sets priorities and targets,  the report found.

None of the “what works now” colleges is waiting for better funding or better students, the Campaign observes.

We recognize that California’s colleges and universities are struggling with decreased state funding and we must continue to demand adequate support. We also believe that the practices highlighted in this report, and all other efforts to improve college completion rates, are good for students, good for future state revenues, and in some cases actually save the state money through innovation and efficiency. Practices such as utilizing data to target academic interventions, prioritizing enrollment for students with a goal of degree, transfer, or vocational certificate, requiring students to complete an educational plan, streamlining the assessments for English and math across the system, and accelerating progress for students through basic skills or remedial courses, are just a few proven innovations that can get significantly more students across the finish line.

More than 70 percent of California’s postsecondary students are enrolled in community college, the Campaign estimates, but only 30 percent will earn a certificate, degree, or transfer to a four-year university in six years.