Dear Commons Community,
The Chronicle of Higher Education is reporting that the American Association of Community Colleges issued a report on Saturday intended to galvanize college leaders to transform their institutions for the 21st-century needs of students and the economy. The report, “Reclaiming the American Dream: Community Colleges and the Nation’s Future,” is a blunt assessment of the state of community colleges and calls on college leaders to “redesign their institutions, their mission and their students’ educational experiences” to ensure that they meet the needs of a changing society.”
Released here on the opening night of the group’s annual conference, the report acknowledges the sector’s historic growth and success but also argues that even so, far too many community-college students do not graduate. The study also found employment preparation inadequately connected to the needs of the job market, and a need for two-year colleges to work more closely with high schools and baccalaureate institutions.
“As they currently function, community colleges are not up to the task before them,” it says.
The report makes a number of recommendations including:
- Increase completion rates of students earning community college credentials (certificates and associate degrees) by 50% by 2020, while preserving access, enhancing quality, and eradicating attainment gaps associated with income, race, ethnicity, and gender.
- Dramatically improve college readiness: By 2020, reduce by half the number of students entering college unprepared for rigorous college-level work, and double the number of students who complete developmental education programs and progress to successful completion of related freshman-level courses.
- Close the American skills gaps by sharply focusing career and technical education on preparing students with the knowledge and skills required for existing and future jobs in regional and global economies.
As with many calls for education change and reform, the question of funding becomes critical particularly for sustained development. This will be the challenge as public higher education is experiencing unprecedented reductions in financial support from states and localities. The contributors/authors of the report consisted mostly of community college presidents and administrators.
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