TRACKING TRENDS : ‘Texas Completes’ Announces Strategies for Student Success
A group of Texas community colleges is moving from planning to implementation of a statewide student success and credential completion effort called “Texas Completes.”
The group recently announced plans and strategies for improving completion rates at the Texas community colleges. The steps are being implemented by the five “Texas Completes” partners and are aimed at creation of a unified student pathway to success. They include:
Revising curriculum to swiftly get students into programs of study, streamline time to degree, and facilitate transfer to four-year institutions.
Creating a comprehensive student advising and management system that ensures students a strong start and consistent feedback along each step of their way through college.
Restructuring developmental education to reduce time spent in pre-collegiate coursework.
With its planning phase funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the initiative is moving ahead with the financial support of state and regional funders.
For the past year, the Texas Completes team has been working to identify college policies and procedures that hinder student success and develop plans to eliminate barriers. The project is being led by Lone Star College System, and the partners include Alamo Colleges, Dallas County Community College District, El Paso Community College and South Texas College. This group of five colleges enrolls 289,000 students, more than one-third of all community college students in Texas.
“This project is critical to the future of Texas,” said Richard Carpenter, LSCS chancellor and incoming chairman for Texas Association of Community Colleges. “The momentum and coherence across Texas as a result of our 18 months of collaborative work is profound and we are determined to succeed. Groups are working together throughout Texas like never before.”
Enrollment has surged in Texas community colleges, fueled by the recession, which caused many Texans to return to school for additional training and education. Community colleges also are serving older, non-traditional students.
Increasing college success and completion rates is considered critical to the future of the economy. A report from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce forecasts that, by 2018, 63 percent of jobs will require at least some postsecondary education and the labor market will be short 3 million educated workers over the next eight years.
A key element to Texas Completes is its statewide policy board that serves to cultivate a receptive environment for reform and create momentum for scale throughout the state. Part of the board’s charge is to help identify and mitigate policy and funding challenges that are barriers to student success.The board is comprised of state and field stakeholders representing education (K-16), business and labor, as well as nonprofits and philanthropy. The board had its first meeting last March, where the members determined the key policy areas of focus: transfer and articulation, developmental education, and performance based funding.
Raymund Paredes, commissioner of the THECB, said panel supports of the Texas Completes effort.
“We know that for Texas to become a national and international leader in education by 2030 – which is one of our goals – it must accelerate its efforts,” Paredes said. “Texas Completes creates an important framework for alignment on that strategy and we are eager to work with the cadre on advancing this important agenda.”
Rey Garcia, president and CEO of the Texas Association of Community Colleges, said that TACC supports the completion strategy being developed by this group of community colleges.
“Texas Completes is embarking on broad-based systemic change efforts to dramatically improve student success and completion,” said Garcia. “Its work benefits Texas by creating an infrastructure to build consensus among diverse organizations for large-scale student success reform that we will share with other colleges across the state.”