America’s community colleges, now more than ever, are educating today’s workforce in basic skills and job preparation training, allowing our country to better compete in a global economy. This past summer President Obama announced his American Graduation Initiative, a 10-year, $12 billion plan to improve the community college system. The main objective of this program is to graduate 5 million students from community colleges by 2020 in an effort to improve the American economy by supplementing our own labor pool with a higher skilled workforce.
The proposed Community College Challenge Fund will administer grants for this initiative. One important criteria for eligibility of the grant funding is that community colleges must demonstrate improved educational and employment outcomes to receive the funding. They will also be required to report to stakeholders their effectiveness in meeting predefined measures of student success that are still being defined. Additionally, the plan indicates that institutions creating effective and replicable models that help students “learn, graduate, and secure jobs” will be favored to receive continued funding. Transparency to prospective students and employers of how effective community college’s are achieving these measures will be an important part of the President’s initiative.
According to this preliminary information, there is little doubt that community colleges, which already have a culture of continuous improvement and who are currently utilizing assessment practices, will be better prepared to obtain and renew these funds. Unfortunately, many institutions are only in the formative stages of creating this culture and do not have the needed processes in place to assist them in demonstrating evidence of their achievements. Accordingly, institutions hoping to obtain grant dollars from the American Graduation Initiative should begin looking internally today to assess their culture and readiness to gather data, document their activities, and transparently report on their effectiveness for helping students learn, graduate, and obtain jobs.
Thanks to this initiative, community colleges in America
stand ready to do
For additional reading on the American Graduation Initiative, please see the following sources:U.S. Push for Free Online Classes
A Boon to 2-Year Colleges, Affirming Their Value