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California Launches CC Pathways Project Based on National Model

Three California community colleges that participated in a national project to help students get and stay on a path for their college studies will be leading other community colleges in the state to implement a similar model. The California Guided Pathways project will adapt the Guided Pathways initiative launched in 2015 among 30 institutions across the country by the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC).

The original project set out to build capacity for community colleges to implement a pathways approach to student success and college completion. At the time of that launch, AACC President Walter Bumphus called the project a "game-changer." The intent was to provide "clearly delineated outlines for students to follow toward their completion goals," he said. The project focused on creating modeling, training and materials based on successful programs to serve as implementation guides for colleges.

The three colleges selected for the national project — Bakersfield, Irvine Valley and Mt. San Antonio — helped spark the idea of adapting the model to California schools. The new project is expected to help up to 20 state community colleges design and implement their own structured programs that provide academic and career pathways for students.

The overall goal will be to help students clarify their goals, select programs that meet them and keep them on the path to completion. The expected result will be an increase in the number of students who earn their community college credentials.

Early in 2017, participating colleges will be selected through an application process that will close on Feb. 28. School leaders among those chosen will participate in six, two-day institutes to learn the main aspects of the model and be coached on the change processes required to implement pathways.

The project will be directed by the California-based National Center for Inquiry & Improvement and an advisory committee with representatives from participating colleges, the California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office, the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges and others.

"Our students are often low-income and first in their family to attend college. By clarifying pathways and providing guidance throughout their education, we can ensure more students complete a degree, transfer to a four-year college and increase their earning potential," said Sonya Christian, president of Bakersfield College and chair of the California Guided Pathways Advisory Committee, in a prepared statement.

Whereas the AACC effort was funded by a $5.2 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, California's work is being initiated with help from the College Futures Foundation and the Teagle Foundation.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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