New Measures To Help Define Success of Community Colleges
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Forty community colleges have been selected to pilot the new Voluntary Framework of Accountability, an ambitious effort designed to better define what success means for two-year institutions nationwide.
VFA Participating states
The colleges which are pilot sites for the Voluntary Framework of Accountability are:
Under the VFA pilot, colleges will test a series of custom metrics that community college professionals developed over the last several months. The project fills what community college advocates consider as a void in measures appropriate to the unique mission of two-year colleges.
“Many traditional measures of institutional effectiveness don’t work well for community colleges,” said Walter G. Bumphus, president and CEO of the American Association of Community Colleges. “For example, most are pegged to full-time students, and the majority of community college students attend part-time. Our overarching goal is to develop measures appropriate to our mission that clearly tell students and policy makers how we’re doing.”
The VFA is a collaborative effort of the AACC, the Association of Community College Trustees and the College Board. It is being funded by the Lumina Foundation for Education and The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The pilot colleges include 37 institutions, two state-wide systems and one multi-college district in 29 states, according to an AACC news release.
VFA pilot colleges will work from a draft technical manual developed by four VFA working groups, a technical committee and a national steering committee. The VFA is being developed in an effort to identify measures for which there is broad consensus on technical definitions and available data. Additional measures will be proposed as the participants report outcomes and assess how well they gauge institutional effectiveness.
“Pilot testing is a critical part of developing the VFA,” said Kent Phillippe, AACC’s associate vice president of research and student success and director of the VFA initiative. “We want to learn from the pilots the utility of the measures and feasibility of reporting this data for all types of community colleges.”
Pending outcomes of the pilot testing, reaction to the VFA among AACC member institutions and future funding, a full-scale roll-out to the nation’s close to 1,200 community, junior and technical colleges could take place starting in 2012.
“The Obama administration and others are focused on greater numbers of student completions and demonstrable measures for how we gauge student success. VFA is the community college response that says, ‘We accept that challenge,’” Bumphus added.