A Vision for Change
The goals set forth are very ambitious and there is no easy path to reach them. Achieving these goals will require a combination of strategies and the coordinated efforts of tens-of-thousands of individuals both inside and outside the California Community Colleges.
Not only will California need the talent and perseverance of college presidents, administrators, faculty, staff, trustees, and students, it will also need the support and engagement of the Governor, Legislature, University of California (UC) and California State University (CSU) systems, workforce development system, K-12 education system, business and labor organizations, philanthropists, and community and civic groups. It will take a sustained effort by the California Community College Chancellor, the Board of Governors, and the entire staff at the system level to lead the charge, support the hard work of the colleges, and help maintain focus and morale. There is no denying this is a tall order, but California and its students deserve no less.
Focus relentlessly on students’ end goals.
Getting students to their individual educational goals—whether a degree, certificate, transfer, or specific skill set—should be the explicit focus of the California Community Colleges. More than just offering courses, colleges need to be offering pathways to specific outcomes and providing supports for students to stay on those paths until completion.
Always design and decide with the student in mind.
Colleges need to make it easy for all students, including working adults, to access the courses and services they need. Students should not bear the burden of misaligned policies between education systems.
Pair high expectations with high support.
Students should be encouraged to go “all in” on their education, with support to meet their personal and academic challenges. Assessment and placement practices must be reformed so that students are placed at the highest appropriate course level, with ample supports to help them succeed.
Foster the use of data, inquiry, and evidence.
Data analysis should be a regular practice used for improving services at all levels, not a compliance activity. Decisions should be based on evidence, not anecdotes or hunches.
Take ownership of goals and performance.
The California Community College system should be rigorously transparent about its performance, own its challenges, and adopt a solution-oriented mindset to those things it can control. Goals should be used to motivate and provide direction, not punish.
Enable action and thoughtful innovation.
Moving the needle on student outcomes will require calculated risk, careful monitoring, and acceptance that failures will sometimes happen. Innovation should be thoughtful and aligned with goals; results should be tracked early and often.
Lead the work of partnering across systems.
Education leaders across the education systems and workforce development systems need to meet much more frequently, in more depth, and with more personnel dedicated to the task. By working together these systems can strengthen pathways for students and improve results.
In each of these areas, there are clear steps for the California Community College Chancellor’s Office to lead and support the work of the colleges, from modeling the kinds of organizational changes and behaviors expected at the college level to advocating for California Community College students at the highest levels of state government.