One of the key pieces of legislation Governor Brown recently signed into law was the Student Success Act of 2012 or SB1456. The Press-Telegram reports that this bill focused directly on the state’s community college system, in an effort to improve completion rates and student success at these institutions. The Student Success Act of 2012 includes a number of specific measures community colleges will now have to utilize to help their students succeed in college. Some of the measures include:
- Development of a student education plan to help students plan course schedules accordingly
- The requirement that all incoming students attend an orientation session before taking courses
- Minimum standards for academic success in order to receive fee waivers
- Creation of a student success report card that will be used to determine future funding
- Addition of an all-new assessment test that will help place students in the proper classes
The Definition of a “Dropout Factory”
There is no single definition of a dropout factory when referring to community colleges – it depends in part on individual perceptions of what constitutes a low completion rate. A report at CNN Money defines dropout factories as schools with a completion rate of 25 percent or less, a number established by College Measures president Mark Schneider. The completion rate refers to the number of freshmen who enter the school full-time and earn a degree within three years.
The new “Make it Personal: College Completion” campaign was initiated by the American Association of Community Colleges with financial support from the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. According to USA Today, the campaign material makes its point through “edgy material” designed to speak directly to today’s community college student. The goal of the program is to encourage community college students to “make smart decisions about sex and relationships.” This particular project is geared toward young adults and strives to be non-political by avoiding controversial subjects like abortion.
Focus on the Finish
The new report released by Simon’s office, titled, “Focus on the Finish,” provides statistics on current graduation rates at Illinois community colleges, as well as recommendations to improve those numbers. Nearly one million students enroll in Illinois community colleges every year. According to Lt. Governor Simon’s website, the report shows that four out five recent high school graduates in Illinois who attend community college do not earn their degree or certificate within three years.
“The Hidden Costs of Community Colleges”
The recent study, titled, “The Hidden Costs of Community Colleges,” was released by the American Institutes for Research. The study, which was funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, looked at full-time, first-year community college students who did not return for their second year of school. Five academic years were analyzed in the study, between 2004 and 2009. The purpose of the study was not only to put a price on the high dropout rate but also to improve outcomes and performance at institutions across the country, according to a press release published at the American Institutes for Research website.