BCCC in Good Standing; Sojourner-Douglass Loses Accreditation

Source:   DiverseEducation.com

Two Baltimore schools recently received good and bad news respectively with regard to their accreditation status. Without accreditation, schools are not eligible to receive federal financial aid dollars and their classes will not transfer to other institutions. When a school loses accreditation, it generally marks the end of the institution.

Baltimore City Community College (BCCC), which was placed on warning by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) in 2014, was able to show that it was once again in compliance with all 14 of the commission’s standards. MSCHE removed the college’s warning and reaffirmed its accreditation on June 25.

“The affirmation of accreditation means that the future is bright for BCCC,” said President Gordon F. May in an email.

May said that the warning status made recruiting students to the college more difficult. “However, we continued to enroll students in line with other Maryland community colleges,” he said of the period in which it was on warning status. The school has run into accreditation issues in the past ― in 2011 the school was put on probation for issues with student-learning evaluations and received a warning in 2004.

BCCC has on average about 18,000 students enrolled students a year. It is too early to say how the renewed accreditation will impact enrollments for this fall. Mays said that recruiting students was one of the school’s priorities going forward. He also noted that the school created new degrees in certificates in areas such as cybersecurity, paramedicine and actuary science.

Another Baltimore institution, Sojourner-Douglass College, lost its accreditation on June 30. Without accreditation, the college cannot accept Pell Grants funds or other federal financial aid. The majority of students were Pell Grant recipients, meaning that without the prospect of that revenue stream, the college’s doors are now closed.

The fate of Sojourner-Douglass’ students and building remains unclear. Sojourner-Douglass filed a lawsuit against MSCHE on June 29. According to the Baltimore Sun, the lawsuit said that “negotiations fell through” between Sojourner-Douglass and two other institutions of higher education.

In April, the Baltimore Sun reported that Stratford University and Sojourner-Douglass signed a memorandum of understanding. According to the MOU, Stratford would take over at least one campus and establish a Sojourner-Douglass Center. A Coppin State University representative confirmed on Thursday that former Sojourner-Douglass students will enter the school in the fall. Morgan State University public relations representatives could not be reached for comment.

The Sun also reported in May that Sojourner-Douglass students would transfer to Morgan State and Coppin State.

A MSCHE representative said in an email that the commission could not comment on the situation due to pending legal action.

Diverse Docket: Race Discrimination Suit Still on Table

Source:  DiverseEducation.com

Borough of Manhattan Community College and the chair of its Business Management Department must continue defending a race discrimination suit by an adjunct professor of Nigerian descent, a federal judge has ruled.

U.S. District Judge J. Paul Oetken rejected a defense request to dismiss the Section 1981 civil rights suit filed by David Okor, who claims the college discriminated by repeatedly refusing to promote him to a full-time position.

The suit originally also alleged national origin and age discrimination but Okor dropped those claims.

According to the decision, Okor joined the adjunct business faculty in 1985. The same year, he allegedly began to ask about full-time opportunities but was falsely told that there was a budget-related job freeze in effect for full-time professors, despite the fact that the college did make such hires.

He continued to ask unsuccessfully for a promotion through 2012. Meanwhile, the college promoted a White female adjunct “with fewer qualifications to teach business” to a full-time opening in 2011, the suit contends.

The college and department head moved for dismissal on the grounds that Okor waited too long to sue and that the suit was “implausible.”

In his decision, Oetken said it would be premature to toss out the case because of a factual uncertainty about whether a promotion would have meant a substantial salary increase for Okor and a change in his “privileges, responsibilities and status, both within the Business Department and at BMCC more generally.”

In addition, Oetken found an unresolved factual dispute on when the statute of limitations period began.

Last, Oetken found that Okor stated a “plausible claim” against the college.

“Okor has alleged that he is a member of a protected class, that the defendants, by promoting a Caucasian adjunct professor with fewer relevant qualifications than he had, intentionally discriminated on the basis of his race and that the discrimination concerned conduct within the scope of Section 1981,” the judge wrote.

He ordered pre-trial discovery on the questions of when Okor’s claim arose and about “the changes in responsibility and status when a business professor is promoted from an adjunct position to a full-time position.”


A federal judge in Baltimore has dismissed a racial discrimination and retaliation suit by a former long-time library technician at Towson University but left the door open for her to refile the case.

Darcel Cobb, who is African-American, was hired in 1989 and placed on administrative leave and then fired in 2010. During that period, she made various discrimination complaints against the university.

The suit claims that she became the subject of harassment after her African-American supervisor left, and that Towson treated her White colleague more favorably than her. For example, she contends that she received lower job performance evaluations although the colleague’s performance was actually worse.

“Race was obviously the major factor for the daily mistreatment,” the suit contends.

Towson countered that it dismissed Cobb solely because of poor work performance, and Cobb acknowledged that she had been accused of overspending on library materials and of verbally berating a co-worker.

U.S. District Judge Ellen Hollander found that Cobb “has sufficiently stated that she suffered an adverse employment action—namely, she alleges that she was terminated” but agreed with Towson that she failed to present enough facts “to show plausibly” that the university “terminated her in retaliation for prior protected activity or because of her race.”

Hollander said Cobb can refile her suit “with additional supporting factual allegations.”

Cobb, who represents herself in the case, is seeking back pay, $400,000 in compensatory damages and punitive damages.

CCBC Finding Student Success at Accelerated Pace

Source:  DiverseEducation.com

When Rosaria Eraso graduated from Catholic High School of Baltimore, she decided to attend the local Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC). She did not want to go to a four-year college before being certain about her academic goals. “I was unsure what my major was going to be,” she says.

At CCBC, Eraso decided to pursue an associate degree in general studies and is researching di­fferent majors for when she transfers to a four-year university. The school year is busy for her. In between classes, she competes in lacrosse, which she played last year at CCBC; dances with a local rec team; and puts in 20 hours a week working at LA Fitness.

Entering CCBC, Eraso says she knew that math would be her greatest quandary other than deciding on an eventual major. It was never her strong suit in high school, she says. When she took the entrance exam, she placed into the remedial level, which gave her some concern. “I knew that it would be a setback to have to take all those classes,” Eraso says.

Students cannot graduate until they pass an entry-level, credit-bearing math class, so the college suggested that she take its Accelerated Math Program (AMP) to catch her up to speed. AMP allows students to take an upper-level math class and a lower-level class simultaneously. The lower-level class offers more academic support and the upper-level class moves students through the remedial sequence faster than they would otherwise.

CCBC is well known for its Accelerated Learning Progam (ALP), a developmental writing program. Like AMP, ALP combines upper-level and lower-level writing classes, putting students on track to complete English 101 faster than they would in a traditional remedial class.

ALP was the subject of a series of Community College Research Center (CCRC) studies. CCRC researchers found that the ALP approach resulted in better outcomes for students in terms of completing credit-bearing English classes.

“Often lengthy remedial sequences pose a barrier to completion for students and what we’ve seen is that co-requisite models are oftentimes the most promising reforms in terms of the impact that you see on completing remedial sequences and completing a gatekeeper course in math or English,” says Madeline Trimble, a data analyst at the CCRC.

Remedial education issues

A few years after ALP was implemented and proved to be successful for students, CCBC created AMP. ALP and AMP are both responses to issues with remedial education: on the national level, not just in Maryland, students who start out in developmental classes have much lower success rates than those who start out in full-credit classes. Remedial sequences can be several semesters long, and extend the period before students see any kind of result in the form of college credit in return for the investment of their time and money.

At CCBC, a large percentage of students need at least some form of remedial education. About 79 percent of students entering CCBC will place into a developmental class, according to the institution.

Dr. Mark McColloch, CCBC vice president of instruction, says that there are a number of reasons why CCBC’s students may need remediation. One issue is that relatively few students come to CCBC straight out of high school.

“People have typically been out of school for a couple years, and so especially with intermediate algebra, people have a really strong tendency to forget that, if they’ve been away from it for more than a year,” McColloch says.

According to the school website, only 9 percent of CCBC students in 2014 were under the age of 20.

The demographics of the county have also changed over the years. The county is more diverse, with growing numbers of minority students. Although CCBC serves primarily county residents, about 13 percent of CCBC’s students come from Baltimore, whose residents have on average lower educational attainment than those from the state itself. “We actually have almost as many city residents going to the county community college as go to the city community college,” McColloch says.

He says it is more difficult to persuade students to take AMP classes as opposed to ALP classes, which account for around 90 percent of remedial writing classes. McColloch says one difference is that students need to pass English 101 before they can move on to other classes, while math can be put off until the end. Currently, between 17 and 20 percent of all remedial math classes at CCBC are AMP classes. CCBC’s goal for the next three years is to move that number closer to 40 percent.

Another deterrent is what McColloch refers to as the “stigma” surrounding math and English.

“Unfortunately, there’s not much stigma in the U.S. about [not] doing well in math, people just accept that,” he says. “But if you’re not in English 101, there really is a stigma attached to it, so people are anxious about getting into the 101 class.”

Improving results in remedial education may be one way to improve student retention and graduation more generally. According to data collected by Complete College America (CCA) in conjunction with the Maryland Higher Education Commission, only 18.9 percent of all Maryland students earn a two-year associate degree in six years. For African-American students, the percentage is 9.8 percent, and for Hispanics, 17.5 percent. Only 4.2 percent of all students complete their two-year associate degree on time.

“Just to be clear, Maryland is not unique,” says Bruce Vandal, vice president at CCA. “This is a challenge for virtually every college and community college system in the country.”

Danielle Truszkowski, a CCBC instructor and AMP director, says that the program has had a great impact on students. Not only are they moving through the program faster, they are also hitting their stride with math.

“Often students who come in at the remedial level believe that they’re bad at math or can’t do math,” she says. “But then when they’re successful, then they almost think they’re Einstein. It gives them a whole new attitude and outlook.”

Truszkowski is careful to note that AMP is no walk in the park.

When students take the two companion classes, they have tests and quizzes in each, doubling the amount of work. She says instructors caution students ahead of time about the amount of work, but stress that their work will pay off in the end. Students respond well to the raised expectations as well, meeting their instructors’ goals. Eraso can attest to AMP’s success. Although she started out in the 081 remedial class, she passed 163, a credit-level class, this spring. She is set to graduate next December.

“I definitely have no regrets,” she says. “I think CCBC is a great stepping stone. It’s a great place to start, especially if you don’t know what you want to do.”

Iowa Regents, community and private colleges convene safety summit

source:  thegazette.com

Campus safety and security has become a paramount issue for institutions across the nation and state, with new threats ever emerging and administrators and authorities racing to respond with novel and innovative tactics.

In hopes of sharing some of those best practices and techniques, the state Board of Regents, the Iowa Association of Community Colleges, and the Iowa Association of Independent Colleges will for the first time this fall convene a “Campus Safety and Security Summit.” The six-hour meeting Oct. 28 will involve teams of higher education officials on the Des Moines Area Community College Ankeny campus.

Summit sessions will follow three tracks — prevention and training, response, and risk assessment and management, according to the Board of Regents. Each track will cover legal requirements, campus policies, and procedures. Discussion topics will include emergency response protocol, investigation and judicial process, communication, bystander training, and victim support.

This week’s announcement of a statewide higher education safety summit comes one month after the Board of Regents agreed to create a campus safety and security subcommittee charged with reviewing security reports and monitoring issues at University of Iowa, Iowa State University, University of Northern Iowa, and the special schools it oversees.

That group will discuss training related to identifying and preventing sexual violence, harassment, and other Title IX violations, and it could look more broadly at security issues involving potential biohazards or active shooters on campus.

At the June 4 regents meeting when the board approved the subcommittee, Executive Director Bob Donley said Iowa’s regent campuses already do much of what the U.S. Department of Education has recommended related to sexual misconduct and violence prevention.

“We are doing an extraordinary job already,” Donley said at that meeting. “This is a great opportunity to highlight some of the things we are doing.”

The regents subcommittee will meet at least twice a year and include at least one representative from each campus and from the state’s special schools. Donley said it will provide the campuses space to share best practices, and he charged provosts from the universities to spend the summer developing a plan for the committee and the issues it will cover.

Donley proposed the provosts coordinate town hall meetings on their respective campuses to gauge the safety issues most pressing to their communities.

Josh Lehman, senior communications director for the board, said the statewide summit is not connected to the regents group.

“The idea for this summit happened this past spring, and predates the formation of the subcommittee,” he said.

The board does not yet have a list of the institutions who will send representatives to the October summit, but Lehman said, “We’re hopeful that a high number will be able to participate.”

Gary Steinke, president of the Iowa Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, said all of the state’s 25 private institutions will be represented through his participation. But, he said, some also might send their own people.

“It’s always a good idea to examine the safety of your campus,” he said, adding that Iowa’s private schools are very safe. “That’s one of the things we brag about. But we want to be involved and make sure we’re not missing anything.”

Each institution must report crime statistics annually to comply with the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act.

For the 2013-2014 school year, the most recent data available, Cedar Rapids’ Coe College, which has about 1,400 students, reported six forcible sex offense reports, four burglary reports, three aggravated assault reports, and 113 liquor referrals.

Mount Mercy University in Cedar Rapids, which has about 1,800 students, saw one forcible sex offense report and 23 liquor sanctions that year.

According to U.S. Office of Postsecondary Education, all of Iowa’s public and private institutions in 2013 combined for 103 forcible sex offense reports on campus, 178 burglary reports, and 42 aggravated assaults. The sex offense reports were up from 71 in 2011, as were the assault reports, which increased from 35 in 2011. Burglary reports were down from 275.

According to the Board of Regents’ most recent campus safety report, UI saw its total arrests plummet in 2014 — dropping from 1,406 in 2013 to 759 last year. ISU also saw an arrest decline from 1,274 to 1,010, as did UNI from 153 to 127.

Despite those declines, UI saw three-and-a-half times more sex offenses reported last year — with 14 compared to four in 2013, according to the regent report. ISU saw 12 reported sex offenses in 2014, down from 13 the previous year. And UNI had three reported sex offenses, up from two in 2013.

Sexual assault on campus has become a pressing issue nationally and in Iowa, with students launching campaigns and initiatives aimed at increasing awareness, education, and intervention.

The UI Office of the Sexual Misconduct Response Coordinator of late has seen more reports and complaints ranging from dating and domestic violence to stalking, although many don’t rise to the level of a criminal or policy violation, officials said.

The office received 235 reports in 2013 and 300 reports in 2014.

UI President Sally Mason last year launched a six-point plan aimed at addressing sexual violence on campus, and she convened a student advisory committee on sexual misconduct that met for the first time in April 2014.

The other regent universities also are addressing the issue, including ISU which is being investigated by the Office of Civil Rights. Federal investigators are looking into whether ISU response “promptly and equitably” to reports of sexual violence after a student said she was sexually assaulted during the 2013-2014 school year and then discriminated against by the university.

State budget offers ‘epic opportunity’ for California community colleges

Source:  Richard Duran, former President of Oxnard College

The budget deal agreed to by Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature last month has record increases for education, particularly community colleges. Some call it a windfall. Others call it catch up from deep budget slashing during the recession.

We call it an epic opportunity.

The infusion of money combined with untenable economic and racial inequity provides an extraordinary opportunity to slay some sacred cows and status quo thinking.

With the clarity and liberty of retirement and experience helping colleges use data to improve student success, we have some suggestions to maximize each dollar:

  • Don’t assume your college knows what to do to improve student success. Even eight years of leading Oxnard College as its president wasn’t enough to clearly identify where students struggled and how to fix it. We didn’t know what we didn’t know
  • Do closely examine student data. Oxnard leaders and faculty had our eyes opened to specific bottlenecks, such as those affecting students taking remedial or basic skills courses. Even though we had implemented several interventions that were promising, more needed to be done. We needed to redesign and scale up using a student-centered approach to remedial education so that students could effectively move to credit-earning work without losing precious time and money. By embedding tutoring into math and English basic skills classes, we created the intensive support students needed, when they needed it. Requiring students with jobs and families to seek out extra help outside of class is not a student-centered approach.

  • Do realize that the student population looks significantly different than it did just 10 years ago. One in two children under the age of 18 in California is Latino. The oldest graduate from Oxnard College class of 2015 was 67 years old; the youngest was 19. Our state’s greatest strength has always been the diversity of our people. Embracing the asset of diversity means focusing on cultural competencies and culturally relevant teaching.
  • Don’t just write checks to comply with the dictate from the state to spend the increased allocation for student success and student equity. The increased funding of $471 million spanning two years is a whopping increase. But large amounts of money alone aren’t going to advance student completion and small, non-scalable programs won’t move the big needle.
  • Do focus on research-based policies and practices, such as embedding tutoring through all remedial/basic skills courses and not letting students enroll after classes have started, which increases the risk of their falling behind.
  • Do engage students on their terms. Start where they are. More students than ever arrive on campus unprepared for college-level work. With such variation in demographics and education experience, one-size-fits-all support programs will not work in every setting or with every group of students.
  • Don’t cave to pressures to protect programs and practices that don’t contribute to students completing degrees. Use the data to make these determinations and be willing to make some hard choices, always focusing on implementing with fidelity the policies and practices needed to improve student success and equity.
  • Do listen to the data. The data showed Oxnard staff that basic skills students were not successful in completing the required sequence of courses. We restructured basic skills courses and created an entire division of transitional studies (basic skills), building a multidisciplinary foundation (including ESL, English composition, reading, and mathematics, and study skills) from which students can succeed at college-level learning, and began to follow up with students and identify what they needed to stay on track. This re-structure was met with resistance from some who wanted to keep things the same and not upset the current structure.
  • Do roll up your sleeves and lead by example. Engage faculty and staff at all levels to collaboratively set goals and make reviewing data and progress toward benchmarks an organizational habit. Hold everyone accountable for monitoring student progress and intervening quickly when they go off track.
  • Do scale one or two interventions in ways that engage each student early and often, such as a freshman year experience program that brings small groups of students together with faculty or staff on a regular basis, and teach students how to do college. When faculty and staff make a connection with a student, understand her story, his needs, and how to best meet those needs – that is the true meaning of equity.
  • Do exponentially expand culturally responsive teaching practices that research indicates can contribute to the academic achievement of students from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. Culturally responsive teaching connects students’ cultures, prior experiences and learning styles to college-level work in ways that appreciate and work with what students already know and can relate to.
  • Don’t assume you know what students need. Talk to the students and gather the student voice about their experiences and their engagement with your institution. Learn from them.
  • Do use mobile technology to ask students directly what they are thinking and need to be successful. You may be surprised to learn that lower-income and diverse students are the most cell-phone dependent. For even the lowest income students, cell phones are often their only source of Internet access and communication with jobs and school. Use this technology to integrate the student voice, gathering insights about their thinking and experiences in your campus communication. If we don’t seek the student voice, who will?
  • Do match the budget decisions and interventions such as scaling up academic support, including library services, to keep on track those working towards a degree and preparing for transfer to a four year institution.

We applaud Gov. Brown and the Chancellor’s office for recognizing that the current system is struggling to support many of our students’ needs and for proposing this historic investment in community colleges. How we choose to use the new money will test our commitment to students and doing what’s right.

Our institutions can be key to job and economic growth in the state – helping unemployed, underemployed and high school students access affordable, valuable degrees and certificates that open doors to rewarding careers and transfer to the university system.

As college leaders in charge of the campuses receiving this much-needed funding to serve 2.3 million students every year, let’s use it wisely. We have an opportunity to build a more effective state community college system that truly delivers equity and opportunity in the Golden State. But only if we stop assuming we know what’s best for students, do the research to determine their needs and take time to connect with each and every student in ways that have never been done before.  Let’s get to work.


Richard Duran recently retired after eight years as  president of Oxnard College. He is also a former president of the National Community College Hispanic Council. Brad C. Phillips is president and CEO of the Institute for Evidenced-Based Change.

President’s View: Community Colleges and Health Care

Source:  Tom Snyder, President of Ivy Tech Community College, in Huffington Post

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the healthcare sector will add the most new jobs between 2012 and 2022. Even before the Affordable Care Act was passed, the healthcare sector represented nearly 19 percent of all spending in the nation’s economy and 13 percent of all jobs. Community colleges are the pipeline for training and certifying more than half of all healthcare workers.

With more Americans getting healthcare coverage through the ACA, and with baby boomers getting older and inevitably experiencing more issues with their health, there is an increased need for RNs, LPNs, medical assistants, dental hygienists, EMTs, paramedics and pharmacy technicians. These jobs require either an associate degree or certification.

In a 2011 report, “Creating Opportunities in Health Care: The Community College Role in Workforce Partnership,” the authors point out that community colleges can “provide training and credentialing for incumbent workers in healthcare and … prepare new workers to succeed and meet the workforce demands for this sector – expanding individual opportunity and economic vitality.”

Educating nurses is one of the most important contributions community colleges make to society. But programs that lead to an RN are expensive to run, and finding qualified instructors with a master’s degree in nursing is challenging as these nurses can typically earn more money working in direct care. However, it is estimated that there will be 1.2 million job openings for RNs in the U.S. economy by 2020.

And there is already a pool of healthcare workers who have received certification to be LPNs, paramedics or medical assistants, and would benefit from a program dedicated to helping them to become RNs.

Community colleges can work with these individuals and collaborate with local hospitals to create or enhance career pathways for their employees. Partnerships with hospitals are key to training nurses, and offering clinical training at the workplace is vital to the success of these programs.

Community colleges often anticipate the need to provide training and contact healthcare providers to set up a program. That is the case with Portland Community College in Oregon, which created a certificate program for local assisted living centers, providing them with resident assistants responsible for helping residents undertake activities of daily living and maintain their emotional well-being, as well as avoiding falls, infections and skincare problems such as bedsores.

Other innovative programs created by community colleges for the healthcare industry include Renton Technical College in Seattle training entry level workers at the Virginia Mason Medical Center to become medical assistants; Owensboro Community & Technical College helping individuals on the lower rungs of employment at the Owensboro Medical Health System – including nursing aides and pharmacy technicians – become RNs; and Bunker Hill Community College in Boston creating a Community Health Worker Certificate that prepares low-income students to provide underserved neighborhoods with information about health issues and access to healthcare services.

At Ivy Tech in Indiana, we developed a Healthcare Specialist certification that leads to jobs in Dementia Care, Phlebotomy, Pharmacy Technician and Outpatient Insurance Coding. We work with local hospitals, pharmacies and clients to place our graduates in these positions as well as nurses, EMTs, physican’s assistants among others.

What all these programs have in common is that community colleges worked with healthcare providers to train their employees offering them flexible hours, on the job training, mentors and accelerated degree programs. These innovative programs lead directly to pay raises and career advancement.

The healthcare sector offers well-paying jobs and opportunities for advancement. Jobs can’t be shipped overseas and communities depend on quality health care. Community colleges are on the front lines in training America’s healthcare professionals, and will continue to serve our growing healthcare needs.

Changing of the guard: Community colleges shift strategies to survive, thrive

The news Camden County College President Raymond Yannuzzi will be stepping down from the helm of the Blackwood-based school later this year after 10 years as its leader marks another wave in a changing tide for community colleges in the state.

The “old guard” that got their career start in the community college educational system during it’s boom in the 1970s, and who took on leading roles in the past decade, are now reaching retirement age and passing off the baton, Yannuzzi said.

In the past year, the presidents of community colleges in Salem, Morris, Mercer and, most recently, Cumberland counties have announced they’d be moving on.

“It’s time to have a new generation come in,” said Yannuzzi, who will return to teaching English classes at the school for the next two years before retiring.

The next leaders in line will be tasked with how to adapt their schools’ overall strategies to the shift in community college’s role in the system and a changing economy that at first gave the schools a bump in enrollment during the recession, followed by recent declines.

Along with expanding their health, science and technology offerings, many have linked up with four-year universities to create easy post-graduation transfer policies and duel-degree programs.

Just last month Burlington County College adopted a new identity as Rowan College at Burlington County, a year after Gloucester County College became Rowan College at Gloucester County, name changes that signal the weight of their partnerships with an expanding Rowan University. Camden County College has a similar relationship and agreement with Rutgers-Camden, which was formalized last year.

Many are also beefing up their certification and job training programs, with an eye on the reality highlighted by President Barack Obama when he launched an initiative early last year to help make community college as “free and universal” as high school — people need some kind of post-secondary training to make it in this economy.

“Everybody has to get some sort of credential post high school,” said Yannuzzi. “It’s very difficult for someone with just a high school diploma to get job.”

When he first started in education, and throughout the 70s and 80s, he said that wasn’t the case. People could find jobs in factories or industry with a high school degree, and then-expanding community colleges were chock full of adults, many of whom worked full-time, looking to move up.

“There was a great, untapped need … At night, the parking lots used to be full,” said Yannuzzi, adding full-time students now fill the spaces throughout the day as a larger percent of their students come right out of high school.

“The institution [of community colleges] is still so well established as a part of the educational system, we’ll be as responsive as we’ve always been to a changing of the economy and student population’s needs,” he said. “It’s clear we’re a definite part of higher education that’s here to stay.”

When it comes to the school he’s steered for the past 10 years, Yannuzzi sees good things as well, despite a decline in their numbers and dozens of layoffs last year. The Gloucester Premium Outlets, a 170,000 square foot shopping center set to open across the road from their Blackwood campus in just over a month, has drawn interest in the area and will hopefully be a shot in the arm for the college’s home base of Gloucester Township. They’ve made moves to improve their campus with a 10-year, $2 million transformation, and the school has more than 150 acres just waiting to be developed, he said.

“It’s prime for something, we don’t know what, but we hope it’ll be something that’ll attract more students,” he said. “The future of the college is bright.”

Some community colleges are working on solutions to placement exams

source:  washingtonpost.com

So far in my series of columns on community colleges, I have been describing flaws in admissions systems, including too much reliance on placement tests that waste time and money by keeping students out of for-credit courses. It is one of many reasons why more than 80 percent of new community college students say they want a four-year degree, but after six years just 15 percent have gotten one.

Washington area community colleges are aware of the problem. Their attempts at solutions are interesting. But keep in mind that two-year colleges nationally have been promising for years to address the issue, with not much to show for their efforts. If you have first-hand experience with community college entrance systems, good or bad, e-mail me at jay.mathews@washpost.com.

I asked Washington area two-year colleges two questions: What are you doing to help enrolling students better prepare for placement tests like the College Board’s ACCUPLACER, and what are you doing to replace the remedial courses that those tests often put students in with something that will get them into for-credit courses right away? Here are their answers to the first question. Their responses to the second will be in a following column.

The University of the District of Columbia Community Collegeparticipated two years ago in a program that sent college staff into D.C. high schools to proctor ACCUPLACER exams. Students got a taste of the exam before they graduated so that they would have a better chance to prepare when they took it again before entering UDC. Dianna G. Phillips, chief executive officer of UDCCC, said “currently there are 15 high schools that proctor the ACCUPLACER for all or part of the student body. We are also proctoring ACCUPLACER for all students in our dual enrollment programs,” which provide UDCCC courses for students still in high school.

Montgomery College “provides high school students and their families with test orientation, information, and study materials” before taking ACCUPLACER, said the college’s spokesman, Marcus Rosano. Students who do not score high enough on those first exams to be enrolled in for-credit courses “receive targeted interventions to strengthen any academic weaknesses,” Rosano said, and can take the placement tests again.

At Frederick Community College, school district administrators, counselors and some teachers “are invited to participate in annual professional development about college readiness assessment, which includes discussion about the ACCUPLACER exam,” said college spokeswoman Caroline Cole. The college also gives high schools “study materials, exam preparation strategies, and learning technologies” to help them prepare for the ACCUPLACER, she said. There are also online ACCUPLACER practice guides.

Howard Community College offers the ACCUPLACER to many 11th graders so they can learn the importance of the test and see where they need to improve their skills before college, said the college’s spokeswoman, Elizabeth S. Homan. The college has a free ACCUPLACER study app for students with cell phones or computers. “We also include sample questions and tests on our Web site as a free resource,” Homan said. The college’s Freshman Focus program provides a review for students before they take the math placement test.

The College of Southern Maryland, the community college for Charles, Calvert and St. Mary’s counties, sends staff to high schools to brief students on the ACCUPLACER before they take it. “We try to impress on students that they will not do their best if they come into the test ‘cold,’” said Bill Comey, vice president for student and instructional support. “Students, and their parents, are urged to work on practice questions and review material prior to taking the test.”

If they do poorly the first time, they can take ACCUPLACER again. CSM adds an interesting and unusual requirement for that second try. Students must prove they have prepared for the retest. “They can either enroll in a low-cost college-prep course that focuses on specific subject areas or they can use free software to identify specific skills they need to enhance,” Comey said.

Local colleges’ efforts to help students prepare for ACCUPLACER are commendable, but their spokespersons did not tell me how many students each year attend the meetings or read the materials designed to get them ready, and how that compares to the number of students who enroll each year. I will try to get that information. Some local community colleges have not yet responded to my request for their ACCUPLACER policies, but they will have a chance to do so as I go deeper into the issue of entrance exams that don’t work.

What’s wrong with going to a community college? How two-year colleges can be better than four-year universities.

Source:  washingtonpost.com

The United States is largely segregated along education lines. Those who went to college usually know mostly other people who went to college, so they tend to think their experience is universal. Yet only three in ten Americans age 25 and older have a bachelor’s degree.

Too often and for too many Americans, the word “college” means a four-year degree. The two-year degree gets a bad rap, and so do the community colleges that offer them.

That’s especially the case among politicians and parents who themselves hold bachelor’s degrees. In their minds, the four-year degree is the only route to a respectable and rewarding career.

It’s unfortunate that community colleges suffer from such a negative stereotype because so many people who end up going to a four-year college—and usually end up dropping out—would be much better off starting or even finishing at a two-year college.

For one, small first-year classes and low cost of community colleges allow students to explore careers before committing to a major at a four-year school, all while they earn valuable credits. Community colleges could also be an end in and of themselves. Only 17 percent of community-college students end up earning a bachelor’s degree within six years of starting school.

Secondly, in some cases, a two-year degree pays off more than if students went on to get a bachelor’s degree. In Virginia, for example, graduates with an associate’s degree in technical fields earn around $40,000 annually right out of school, more than the average bachelor’s degree recipient.

Thirdly, community colleges are the gateway to the jobs of tomorrow that can’t be easily automated by robots. Most of those are “middle-skills jobs,” positions that demand more than a high-school diploma but less than a bachelor’s degree. There are roughly 29 million of these jobs today. Some 11 million of them pay $50,000 or more a year, and 4 million pay $75,000 or more, according to Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce.

Despite the demand, a lot of these jobs in advanced manufacturing, health care, and information technology remain open because employers can’t find qualified candidates with enough education to fill them.
Take repairing a John Deere tractor. When Andy Winnett started repairing tractors for a John Deere dealer in 1977, all he needed was a toolbox. “Today your toolbox is a computer,” says Winnett, who now directs the John Deere technology program at Walla Walla Community College in Washington state. John Deere partners with several community colleges around the country to train technicians for its dealer network.

About 15 to 20 students come through the program each semester, which graduates students in two years. Because they are sponsored by a John Deere dealer, where the students work for half the program, most graduate with a job in hand. On average, a technician can start earning between $31,000 and $39,000 a year plus bonuses.

But as Winnett explained to me during a visit to Walla Walla earlier this year, students need “both brawn and brains” for these jobs today. “There’s at least $1.1 million in equipment here,” he said, as he looked at a lineup of the iconic green John Deere tractors outside his office. John Deere tractors have at least 24 computers embedded in them, mostly focused on emissions.

Most of the students who struggle or can’t make it in the program, he said, lack the critical math and comprehension skills to succeed. Jobs like the ones John Deere offer are still associated with students who performed poorly in high school. But the students I found at Walla Walla easily had the academic credentials to get into a four-year college, they’d just rather be here to work with their hands.

One of them, Oscar Tapia, a 19-year-old from Bakersfield, California, told me he had plans to go to a four-year college for an engineering degree, but changed his mind when he heard about the John Deere program at a diesel mechanic class while a junior in high school. After he graduates from Walla Walla, he plans to work for the dealer sponsoring him in Bakersfield. Still, he hasn’t ruled out getting that four-year engineering degree some day. “I want to show John Deere engineers how to design a better tractor,” he said.
Walla Walla is a great example of what a community college should be. It was forced to become an engine of economic development a decade ago after the local agricultural, food processing, and lumber industries started to decline and unemployed workers arrived at the college searching for retraining opportunities.

“We looked at what we were doing, and it wasn’t good enough for a community that needed our help,” said Steven L. VanAusdle, the college’s president. “That was a turning point for us, a wake-up call.”

Now, the college of some 10,000 students offers more than 100 degree and certificate programs, with about 60 percent of them in workforce and technical areas. One of the most competitive is a degree in enology and viticulture. When the college started it in 2000, the region had just 16 wineries. Today, there are nearly 200 local wineries, and they have spawned a vast hospitality sector in the region.

Perhaps attitudes nationwide are beginning to change about community colleges. Students and parents who have a wide variety of choices about where to go to college are increasingly landing at two-year schools. Some 25 percent of students from households earning $100,000 or more now attend community colleges, up from 12 percent just five years ago, according to an annual survey by Sallie Mae.

We always hear about the predictions that the U.S. will face a shortage of computer scientists and engineers in the decade ahead, but rarely do we hear that the nation will also face a shortage of nutritionists, welders, and nurse’s aides.

By 2020, it’s projected that nearly four in ten U.S. workers will have a only high-school diploma or less at a time when more jobs will require additional education. Middle schools and high schools have essentially given up on career and technical education, leaving behind a whole generation of students uninterested in pursuing a four-year academic track in college and community colleges as the stepchild of the nation’s higher-education system.

Dual enrollment on the rise through area community colleges

Source:  pottsmerc.com

Dual enrollment giving high school students college experience — and college credits — has been on the rise for a while in the area.

Reading Area Community College is working on expanding its offerings to students in Berks County schools. At a recent meeting of the Berks County Board of Commissioners, Jodi Corbett, director of academic partnership at RACC, discussed ways the college is moving forward to help students graduating high school hit the ground running when it comes to higher education.

“We had an enrollment of 270 in the fall and 188 in the spring,” Corbett said. “We have skin in the game.”

There are 14 schools in the county with which RACC has dual credit offerings. Corbett said over the next school year, RACC will be developing more partnerships with schools to offer the options.

The benefits of dual enrollment for high school students are clear, in most cases. A student can graduate high school with up to a full year of college credits under his or her belt. Corbett said that many colleges will allow students who have accumulated that many credits to enter as sophomores, which allows them better housing and perks like having a car on campus.

Beyond that, the cost for these credits is far less than those at a four-year college.

A class taken at the high school by a teacher certified to instruct dual enrollment classes costs $99 per credit through RACC, and classes taken online or on campus are $165 per credit. This allows students to take a full year of college for an average of $3,960.

Corbett compared the cost to West Chester University, where tuition for one year is $9,142. Add in the cost of room and board, which runs just over $11,000 and freshman year at the university costs more than $20,000.

RACC isn’t the only school highlighting dual enrollment.

Montgomery County Community College boasts more than 2,000 students from high schools around the county.

Among those numbers are students from Boyertown Area Senior High School.

“It’s an unbelievable cost for the education, and it is providing kids with high school and college credit and the rigors of college classes so that they are prepared to enter a college setting. I think it’s a win-win for the kids and the parents and the university,” said Brett Cooper, principal at BASH.

Boyertown Area students can take the classes without leaving the school, with 13 available courses and more on the way. The students pay only $158 for three or four credit courses, which comes down to either $39.50 or $52.67 per credit.

Even with the steep discount, that is a lot of money to pay if those credits do not transfer to the college a student attends after high school. Many private college, for example, have strict regulations on which credits are acceptable.

“I think they best piece of advice is upfront, contact the college that you might be interested in attending. Admissions officers at four-year colleges are very accustomed to getting calls about that,” said Cheryl Taylor-Mearhoff, Director of Dual Enrollment Initiatives at MCCC. “The officers are much more open to that because it is becoming much more common to do that. So have communication with the colleges that students are attending.”

Both RACC and MCCC have partnerships with many local and state schools that allow for all credits to be transferred, however. Students can also take those credits to community colleges after high school to complete an Associate’s Degree in short order.

Cooper said the options of dual enrollment are to be weighed against the options involved with advanced placement courses. At the end of those courses, students take a test that decides whether they have earned college credit for the course.

“It’s a matter of how to best utilize these from a financial perspective. If the student is going to private school that doesn’t except concurrent enrollment, if they still want to take the course, that’s great, if they would rather pursue a college AP course, hoping to get a three or four, and paying the $90 fee for that test, there is an option for you also,” Cooper said.

As with the dual enrollment classes, the results of getting credit from an AP course can vary by school as well.

“You’ve got to explore the universities where you’re going. It used to be that threes were accepted across the board, some schools have raised the bar and require a four. It depends on the university.”

No matter what becomes of the earned credits, however, those involved in dual enrollment still promote the programs as a way of getting students prepared for college curriculums.

“I’ve never received anything negative from student or parents regarding concurrent enrollment, in terms of not being transferrable to a college,” Cooper said. “Just the experience, I think, of kids being provided with the rigors of a college course in the setting of a high school is palatable to the parents and palatable to the kids.”