New funding options unlikely for community colleges

September 24, 2011

A task force on California’s community colleges – formed in part to study alternative funding options – appears highly unlikely to recommend drastic changes in the way the state funds its community colleges. [CaliforniaWatch]

Instead, the group’s draft recommendations focus on improving support systems for incoming students while also rewarding student behaviors that are known to lead to success.

For example, under the draft recommendations, students who remain on academic probation for too long or rack up more than 100 units of study could lose both enrollment priority for classes and eligibility for state-funded fee waivers. New students would have to take a diagnostic assessment, and if they test below college level, they could have to participate in a student success course, California Watch said.

The idea is that current policies allow community college students to wander around the curriculum, withdrawing and repeating classes multiple times, accumulating an unlimited number of units while avoiding services that could help them – and that this limits the ability of other students to get the classes they need, California Watch said.

The new policies would aim to reward students for following pathways that will most likely lead to completion of a certificate, degree, transfer or career goal, according to California Watch.

“This is not about getting rid of access in order to have success,” task force member Brice Harris, chancellor of the Los Rios Community College District, said at the group’s Sept. 14 meeting. “It’s about protecting access at all costs but … putting in known processes we know will make students more successful while protecting that access.”

In January, the task force was established as a mandate of SB 1143. The task force is to study ways to improve student success and examine alternative funding models, and then deliver recommendations to the Board of Governors and the state Legislature.

A 2010 study by the Institute for Higher Education Leadership & Policy at CSU Sacramento found that six years after enrolling, 70 percent of degree-seeking community college students had not completed a certificate or degree and had not transferred to a university, California Watch reported.

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IMHO, community colleges like Cuesta should focus more on trade tech classes and less on liberal arts.The nursing program is second to non anywhere and those who can’t get in or won’t go to CS colleges need a place to get a trade or functionall degree…

I agree, except the gub has implemented a new program to fast track the community college experience which will require less units towards an associate degree. Upon achieving a 2 year CC program, those who desire to continue their education will receive preferential admittance into the 4 year state colleges and “all their units” will transfer with full credit. I don’t know if a curriculum that is primarily designed around trade courses would quite fit with the gub’s new program.