The Community College Connection

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2009 has been the year of the community college. President Obama has put community colleges front and center in his postsecondary initiatives; the number two person at the U.S. Department of Education (Martha Kanter) is a long-time community college leader; Congress is debating a major legislative initiative to support community colleges and their students (H.R. 3321); and foundations such as Lumina and Gates have provided major support for Achieving the Dream and other initiatives to advance student success at the two-year level.

This new energy is obvious in many of the 35 states that form Achieve's ADP Network. For example, California's community colleges have recently been authorized by the legislature to use the Early Assessment Program (EAP), an initiative designed originally by the California State University, California State Board of Education and California Department of Education to provide the state's eleventh graders with early indications of their readiness for college. The EAP is a set of additional questions to California's eleventh-grade assessment; nearly 80 percent of all test-takers are now completing the voluntary EAP questions. Expanding the EAP's use to community colleges is a major step in helping to signal to all California high school students the importance of their high school preparation for success in college and later life. For more information about the EAP, go to www.calstate.edu/EAP.

Similarly, half of Pennsylvania's fourteen community colleges are now participating in the Achieving the Dream program, an initiative sponsored by the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) with support from Lumina to help more students succeed in two-year colleges, especially students from underrepresented groups. At a recent conference in Harrisburg, teams of presidents, academic deans and faculty members from all fourteen colleges met to learn about how Achieving the Dream has been working in the state and how all the colleges can use the program’s strategies to increase success rates for the high percentages of low-income and minority students that characterize their populations. For more information about Achieving the Dream, go to www.achievingthedream.org.

Community colleges are essential partners in the work of Achieve’s ADP Network states to align high school standards, assessments, data systems and accountability mechanisms with college- and career-readiness. For more about higher ed's role in the college- and career-ready agenda, go to www.postsecconnect.org.