Sic’ ‘Em Saturday: Using Community Colleges for More ‘Core’

It’s not new news that community colleges are Common Core aligned via either their ‘dual enrollment’ courses (which serve high school students) or the Career Pathways/Career Clusters tracks. However, I have found a new document that gives 21 ways to make the bonds of the CC even STRONGER.

SREB, Southern Regional Education Board:

“The Southern Regional Education Board works with 16 member states to improve public education at every level, from pre-K through Ph.D. A nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, SREB was created in 1948 by Southern governors and legislatures to advance education and improve the social and economic life of the region. Member states are Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia.”

I’ve written about SREB a few times before. so I know how supportive of CCSS they are. Recently, the entity has published a Community College Report. Titled “Community Colleges in the South: Strengthening Readiness and Pathways” The work going into this is the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

As I normally do, I’ll only give you the highlights from the document. You can access the entire document from here to research on your own. What if you live outside of the SREB’s domain? I’ll be sure to show you how to find the Regional Education entity in your area by the time we’re through.

Point #1:
Community colleges are essential to achieving state goals — increasing educational achievement of the population, increasing access and completion, eliminating achievement gaps, closing opportunity gaps, and addressing workforce and economic development objectives. These complex institutions are also flexible, adaptable, affordable, community-based, user friendly and proximate to the state’s population.”

Point #2:
“Community colleges serve students, employers and communities.” (think P3 involvement on hyper-drive)

Point #3:
“SREB’s Community College Commission met several times during 2013 and 2014 to recommend policies and practices to increase students’ college and career readiness through effective community college and K-12 pathways. Composed of community college system leaders, legislators, national experts and others.” Below, are the numbers the Report provided:

Point #4:
“In an effort to tighten the connection between state goals and funding, approximately half of the states in the nation are moving to outcomes-based funding. In states such as Ohio, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Mexico, Tennessee and Washington, state support — all or in part — is derived from a funding formula with metrics specifically designed for community colleges. Program designs in most states would reward institutions on a range of measures, including rewards for students who reach momentum points such as successful completion of a specified number of credits, transfers, success with underserved populations and at-risk students, completion of STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) programs, as well as completion of certificates and degrees. Programs with higher rates of completion receive incentive funding for contributing to a state’s educational attainment goal. Although now used widely, outcomes-based funding is still controversial…”

Point #5:
Addressing the admittance policies that could be changed, “The urgency to redesign both placement and developmental education is fueled recently by the impending, new college- and career-readiness standards and associated assessments being implemented by most states. These nationwide standards and assessments are more rigorous, especially with respect to reading and writing, and the more demanding assessments most likely will publicly reveal a much more severe readiness problem. To these points, the recent National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) 12th grade achievement-level results for literacy and math — which apply performance expectations empirically linked to college success and to the new common readiness standards — show that only 38 percent of students perform at or above the Proficient level in reading, and 26 percent perform at the Proficient level in math. Hence, these placement and remedial challenges must be addressed so that colleges and students come closer to meeting the postsecondary completion goals set by most states…” 

Point #6:
“….emphases in the emerging new common college readiness standards, there is a growing call to address the fundamental and logical importance of students being able to read with comprehension moderately complex texts across a variety of content areas.”

Point #7:

Regarding math readiness, “In fact, numerous examples in postsecondary education (public and independent) have resolved this issue by requiring math other than college algebra (or precalculus) as a free-standing degree requirement. For non-STEM majors, many institutions accept, for degree credit, math courses such as finite math, introductory statistics, contemporary math and quantitative reasoning. It is thought that the logical and critical reasoning and thinking skills required for a degree — for future careers and perhaps for successful study in other areas of the curriculum — can be nurtured through rigorous engagement in these courses. The four major math associations (American Mathematical Society, American Statistical Association, Mathematical Association of America, and Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics) will issue recommendations this year that college algebra no longer be a general education course requirement.” Not much further down the page the discussion of which math areas would be considered as alternatives, “The construction and implementation of these new approaches to developmental education centering on these courses is proceeding through the work of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching’s Quantway and Statway projects and the New Mathways Project from the Charles A. Dana Center at the University of Texas.”

Point #8:
“…placement and readiness evaluation tend to identify and assess literacy skills based on students’ abilities to read texts of moderate- to lower-level complexity, within a narrow range of academic disciplines. Too often, these evaluations do not challenge students’ abilities to read and understand academic or technical texts, or to analyze and explain their meaning in writing. This ability to read more complex text in many subjects is critical to students’ abilities to succeed in postsecondary education. For example, the most commonly used placement tests, Accuplacer and Compass, use relatively simple texts and writing prompts. The lack of challenging literacy readiness standards and assessments explain why math skills have been viewed as the area which most contributes to the readiness problem.” Not too far down the page, “Moreover, many state K-12 systems have adopted new literacy standards, such as the Common Core State Standards and others, that are based on the deep and effective reading of complex information texts across different disciplines and the ability to engage in expository writing that parallels the higher text complexity.”

Point #9:
“Public schools need the direct support of community colleges to meet the immense readiness challenge. Community colleges need to lead in making more students ready for postsecondary education, especially in supporting systematic high school efforts to raise achievement in literacy and math skills. Community colleges need to engage in the following activities jointly with local public schools:  *Send specific, concrete messages about the literacy and math readiness skills needed.  *Support the need for junior-year readiness assessments based on specific readiness skills and standards*Support the provision and required enrollment of students in 12th grade bridge or transition courses based on the literacy and math readiness skills. These courses should be taken by students assessed as not ready by the junior-year assessments and provide a way to move developmental education from the community colleges to K-12.  *Provide concrete, actual examples of first-year community college course work to high schools. SREB will use its convening and advocacy capacity to bring together groups of states to address these recommendations; in light of the controversial nature of the recommendations…”
Point #10:
“One of the most underutilized strategies to support student degree completion is the emphasis on a well-defined, rather narrow pathway that students should adhere to in order to complete an associate or bachelor’s degree in a timely manner.” Not long after you read this, you’ll read this, “A structured guided pathway is an academic program map where faculty have sequenced the courses and identified well-defined learning outcomes. Pathways imply structure and guidance toward timely completion and next steps along the path. Structure and guidance are both important and costly. They include adequate and appropriate advising that focuses on careers and programs, rather than courses, and keeps students on track, requiring them to have a plan and declare a major early. Pathways help students build credit toward a certificate or skill base, should they leave the institution before completing a certificate or degree. They provide the opportunity to take accelerated courses such as dual enrollment and Advanced Placement.” Wait, there’s this as well, “While the definition of a structured or guided pathway may vary somewhat, policy-makers, educators and business leaders agree that postsecondary programs of study that lead to certificates and associate degrees must be better aligned with local, regional, and state workforce needs. Additionally, the programs and courses should be regularly evaluated against workforce needs.”

There is SO much more you need to read in this report! Access it: CommCollegeCom_2015
Of interest: The SREB upcoming College/Career Readiness Conference! Set for July 2015 in Atlanta. (see:
Who funds SREB? Here’s the list of CCSS funders we’ve seen so many times before:
*Alfred P. Sloan Foundation
*Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
*Consolidated Management Resources
*Lamar Plunkett Family
*Lumina Foundation
*National Board of Professional Teaching Standards
*National Research Center for Career and Technical Education, University of Louisville
*National Institutes of Health
*National Science Foundation
*The Pearson Foundation
*U.S. Department of Education

Want to learn more about SREB’s preK-PhD work?

Other regional Education Boards:
WICHE, Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education:
MSC, Multi-State Collaborative:
NEBHE, New England Board of Higher Education:
MHEC, Midwestern Higher Education Compact:
Consortium of State and Regional Education Research Associations:
American Educational Research Association:


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