Community College News

Stay abreast of all the news and reports impacting community colleges. This section covers the latest news stories, from campus protests to Wal-Mart partnerships. Read community college reactions to the latest State of the Union address, identify schools receiving big donations, and analyze the latest laws impacting community colleges and their students.
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Students interested in pursuing higher education are often counseled to look for a college or university that is accredited. However, for many community colleges in California, accreditation cannot be taken for granted. Many two-year schools around the state are at risk of losing their accreditation.  They must show good reason why their accreditation should remain intact, or lose it altogether. Why is accreditation important and what do colleges have to do keep it? Many California schools are learning the answers to those questions firsthand.

The Importance of Accreditation
 
According to the website for the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools, accreditation is a “voluntary activity initiated by the institution” that “emphasizes quality assurance and a commitment to continuous quality enhancement.” Accreditation can be important to an institution because it plays a factor in the following:
 
       ·         Determining whether the school meets minimum quality standards
       ·         Providing potential students with important information about a school
       ·         Assisting in the determination of credit transfers between schools
       ·         Showing prospective employers the value of the education received at the school
       ·         Evaluating eligibility for tuition reimbursement programs offered by employers
       ·         Enabling graduates to sit for certification examinations
       ·         Creating goals for self-improvement of the institution
       ·         Providing self-assessment for the oversight functions required by the state
       ·         Offering a basis for determining federal student assistance
 
In many of these factors, accreditation makes all the difference in the quality of the degree a student earns and where he can take his studies after graduation. Accreditation is typically judged
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While community colleges appreciated the shout-out they received during President Obama’s recent State of the Union address, most say that to accomplish what the president is proposing will take more resources than they currently have. Even the schools that currently have programs in place similar to those the President proposed said they could do much more if they had more – from state and federal governments. While it remains to be seen whether additional funding will come, the first step – raising awareness for the important role community colleges play in today’s employment scene – was accomplished through the President’s speech.

What the President Said
 
According to a report in the Chronicle of Higher Education, President Obama focused on the plight facing many hard-working Americans who are unable to “enjoy the American Dream” the way previous generations have. The Presidents referred to the problem as “the defining issue of our time,” and stated in his speech, “We shouldn’t settle for a country where a shrinking number of people do really well while a growing number of Americans barely get by.” The president called for “an economy where everyone gets a fair shot and everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules.”
 
To that end, the President touted community colleges as one of the key players in putting America back to work. Obama stated in his address that community colleges were at the forefront of worker training programs across the country, and called
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India represents a huge population that boasts an exceptionally high percentage of youth under the age of 14. In an effort to use that percentage to launch India into world leadership rankings, education has become a priority for the entire country. The Wadhwani Foundation, an Indian non-profit committed to improving the quality of life in this country, recently formed a partnership with an American community college to bring skill-based training to the youth of India. The partnership promises to provide resources to the youth of the country who want to break the cycle of poverty through post-secondary education and lucrative career options.

The New Agreement
 
According to a local article in the Washington Post, the agreement between the Virginia Foundations for Community College Education and the India-based Wadhwani Foundation will enable the American colleges to promote skills-based training overseas. Community colleges in this country specialize in such post-secondary education, preparing students of all ages for specific career paths. However, India schools have not been equipped to provide their growing middle class with the same benefits skills-based training offers, until the Wadhwani Foundation made education a priority in improving the standard of living in that country.
 
The agreement was announced by U.S. Senator Mark Warner. The democrat is a member of the five-person delegation planning a visit to various cities in India, including New Delhi, Jaipur, Hyderabad and Kolkata. The purpose of the visit is to discuss expanding relationships between the United States and India through business, defense, trade
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The state of Wyoming is demonstrating their commitment to higher education this month with the first ever community college summit. The summit, sponsored by the Wyoming Association of Community College Trustees, drew educators from around the state to discuss the changing role of community colleges and the best ways to meet student needs in the future. The governor of Wyoming, Matt Mead, was also on hand for the event, and addressed the gathering in regards to recent decisions made at the state level for community college and the importance of higher education for the state.

Summit Brings Colleges, Businesses Together
 
The Wyoming Community College Summit brought all seven of the state’s community colleges together and included more than 100 educators from those schools. The summit also saw participation from industry partners, business owners from the state who frequently hired community college graduates for their open positions. KWGN reports that these businessmen and women offered input into what their needs were in terms of employees.
 
“You’ll hear all of them today say, the community colleges are essential to their ability to hire and train productive employees and to grow their businesses,” Steve Bahmer, executive director for the Wyoming Association of Community College Trustees, told KWGN.
 
The meeting between business owners and community college officials could pave the way for new programs at local community colleges, based on the changing needs of businesses in the state. This type of coordination between the business world and higher education has long been
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While it is important to track the progress and effectiveness of higher education in this country, current standards that apply across the board to both two and four-year institutions do not paint a full picture of the state of postsecondary education today. There are significant differences between four-year universities and two-year community colleges that are simply not addressed in the standards as they are currently written. In most cases, current assessment standards do community colleges an injustice, providing an inaccurate view of how well these schools educate their students.
 
The AACC and the VFA
 
The American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) is hoping to change the view of the community college system through a set of defined assessment standards designed just for them. According to the AACC website, the new Voluntary Framework of Accountability (VFA) is the first national accountability system created just for community colleges, taking their unique student demographics and purpose into consideration. The new metrics will be tested out by 58 community colleges initially, according to a brief report in the Chronicle of Higher Education, with the hope that other schools will adopt the framework in the future.
 
The VFA consists of three phase initiative that will encompass many aspects of community college success or failure. When the framework is completed, it will include:

  • A technical manual that will offer an overview of measurement calculations
  • A college framework to guide schools in assessing student learning outcomes
  • A blueprint of data collection to offer an assessment model to participating
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