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Community College Reform Strategies


June 12, 2013


Community College Reform Strategies

Much recent debate has focused on community college improvement as part of the nation's push toward increasing postsecondary credentials. Community college advocates are taking different approaches to reform, some from the level of federal and state policy and funding, some from the perspective of on-the-ground school reforms.

Stepping Up for Community Colleges: Building on the Momentum to Improve Student Success in Massachusetts from the Boston Foundation fits in the latter category, sharing several evidence-based strategies for reform:

  • Guide students early into broad program streams such as health care and STEM
  • Streamline curricula so that students are not overwhelmed by options and encourage more proactive advising and planning
  • Use multiple assessment measures to place students
  • Reduce, accelerate and contextualize development education
  • Develop differentiated pathways aligned with academic and career goals
  • Promote up-front investments that have been shown to lower overall costs for completion
  • Start implementing interventions at scale, not in boutique programs
  • Use labor market information when developing programs

Authors Richard Kazis and Lara Couturier from Jobs for the Future describe how Miami Dade College's eight campuses are launching a structured pathway program with accelerated developmental education delivered in context, communities of interest in broad subject areas, streamlined programs and proactive advising and career planning. Other programs cited as innovative include the Ivy Institute of Technology, an offshoot of Indiana's Ivy Tech Community College that focuses on intense, short-term, industry-driven programs.

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