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Community College Scorecards Show Struggle To Serve The Unprepared

Aired 4/10/13 on KPBS News.

California Community Colleges unveil online accountability reports for campuses in the system.

California Community College leaders have unveiled new student success scorecards for the system’s 112 campuses. In San Diego County and across the state the schools are seeing more success among students who are prepared for college-level work.

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Persistence And Completion Rates For San Diego County Community Colleges

Persistence And Completion Rates For San Diego County Community Colleges

The new California Community College Scorecards track student persistence, which is the percentage who enroll for three consecutive semesters; students to earn 30 credit units, which is the half-way mark in most programs; and students who complete a degree or certificate or transfer to a four-year institution. All data are tracked over six years.

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According to the new state scorecards, 78 percent of San Diego City College students who do not need to take remedial math or English courses complete a degree or certificate or transfer to a four-year college. That rate drops to 56 percent for those who do need remediation. Those disparities persist across the county's community colleges. Statewide college-prepared students have a completion rate of 71.2 percent while the unprepared complete at a rate of 41.1 percent.

Constance Carroll is chancellor of the San Diego Community College District.

The scorecards also track student persistence over a year-year period. Persistence is when students enroll for three consecutive semesters. Being enrolled for consecutive semesters is an indicator that a student is more likely to complete their degree or certificate. Data is also available about show many students complete 30 credit units -- the half-way mark in most community college programs, how many students who enroll in remedial math or English later complete a college-level course in that discipline and the completion rates of students in career technical training programs. All of the data is broken down by level of college-preparedness, race and gender.

San Diego Community College District Chancellor Constance Carroll said the new scorecards will help the district identify students who need additional support.

She wants the district to do that by growing programs that are already working to improve completion rates such as "learning communities that group students in cohorts, first-year experience that puts students together – particularly students with disadvantaged backgrounds, summer bridge programs that give them a leg up in some of their basic skills,” she said

Carroll said 70 percent of high school grads in the San Diego area are not ready for college level work in math or English. This pool of students is growing across the state according Brice Harris, the state community college chancellor, who said the whole system has to do what Carroll is talking about.

"We’re struggling to deal with students who come to us with below college-level work," he said. "We have to take a hard look at how we deliver remedial instruction, identify those strategies that work and then scale them up."

Harris cautioned against using the scorecards to compre campuses because each has a unique mix of students and programs. Still - he expects student considering community college to use them to find the best match,

"Tthis level of transparency are in best interests of the state," he said, pointing to the United States' downward slide on the global scale of the rate of college completion in its workforce. He said those in education are increasingly interested in figuring out how to boost college success based on data,

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