This topic came up repeatedly as I was researching critical issues for higher education in the community college environment, the vo-tech training schools, and the four-year postsecondary schools. Grace Chen (2011) writes “Community college leaders have not yet formed a consensus on what it means for students to be “college ready,” which could impact the quality of the education received”. This is a problem is because the receiving institutions make the entrance requirement and the core subjects (math, English, reading) in these various schools use various tests/standards for placement of students. Also, for the community college, there is no guarantee that adult students will attend in cumulative semesters so there is much more re-teaching required.
Community college students can be as young as 16 and still in high school very driven to attend a post-secondary environment, or they can be a middle-aged person who is divorced, a single parent, just laid-off trying to gain some skills to re-enter the workforce. This “major issue facing community colleges, according to this study, is finding the right incentives and support to keep students in school” (Chen, 2011, Keeping Students in School, para.1). Arizona participated in a multi-state study that specifically looks at community colleges as the “Road to Nowhere.” Complete College America (2012) has a four step solution to “close remediation exit ramps”. These steps are: strengthen high school preparation, start students in college-level courses with built-in, co-requisite support, embed needed academic help in multiple gateway courses, and encourage students to enter programs of study when they first enroll.
While I knew in my experience as a K-12 educator that this is a concern I had no idea that it was considered a “critical issue” to the point of earning my honor of spot number two! Working with credit transfer agreements (Dual Enrollment, Articulation, Concurrent Enrollment) I am aware of the difficulty that community colleges have in tracking data for students. As part of a federal/state R-POS
(rigorous program of study) team I’m also acutely aware of how difficult it is to get data from a community college.
In addition to the above-mentioned reasons, there is a consensus that transferability is a very difficult problem in the community college environment. According to the College Board (2011), “four-year institution leaders have been warned before about the need to enroll more transfers”. One reason is because during recessions and economic declines high school graduation rates tend to decline. This is a typical time for a community college to increase enrollment. “Despite considerable effort already generated…levels of transfer from community colleges to four-year institutions can be improved” (Pusser & Levin, 2009, Executive Summary, para. 9)
Chen, Grace. June 2, 2011. What are the Biggest Issues Facing Community Colleges Today? New Study has Answers. http://www.communitycollegereview.com/articles/354 College Board. 2011. Improving Student Transfer from Community Colleges to Four-Year Institutions —The Perspective of Leaders from Baccalaureate-Granting Institution. http://advocacy.collegeboard.org/sites/default/files/11b3193transpartweb110712.pdf Complete College America. April 2012. Remediation-Higher Education’s Bridge to Nowhere. http://www.insidehighered.com/sites/default/server_files/files/CCA%20Remediation%20ES%20FINAL.pdf Pusser, Brian and Levin, John. December 2009. Re-imagining Community Colleges in the 21st Century–A Student-Centered Approach to Higher Education. http://www.americanprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/issues/2009/12/pdf/community_colleges_reimagined.pdf