Community college leaders launch Guided Pathways project

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - A project to increase the number of students who earn a certificate or degree at a community college is underway.  

Officials say The California Guided Pathways project will help up to 20 community colleges including Bakersfield College design and implement structured academic and career pathways for all students.  

 "The Guided Pathway model provides a structured framework for colleges to lead institutional change and improve student success." said incoming California Community Colleges Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley. "I applaud the colleges and partners who've taken an innovative leadership role tailoring a national model to benefit students in California." 

The California Guided Pathways project is a practitioner-driven effort that allows colleges to weave together current reform initiatives into an integrated, institution-wide approach to student success. The model helps colleges clarify paths to student end goals, helps student select a program and stay on path, and ensure quality learning. By creating structured educational experiences that support each student from point of entry to attainment of high-quality postsecondary credentials and employment in a chosen field, the project will increase the number of students earning community college credentials, while closing equity gaps. 
Our students are often low-income and first in their family to attend college.  By clarifying pathways and providing guidance throughout their education, we can ensure more students complete a degree, transfer to a four-year college, and increase their earning potential," said Sonya Christian, president of Bakersfield College and chair of the California Guided Pathways Advisory Committee. 
In early 2017, between 15-20 community colleges will be selected to implement the California Guided Pathways Model from a competitive application and interview process. Colleges will participate in six two-day institutes, which will focus on key elements required to implement a fully-scaled pathway model which serves all students at a community college, plus receive support on the change process from expert coaches.  Each college will commit to have implemented guided pathways for all incoming students by 2019.
The California Guided Pathways framework recognizes that faculty are at the core of ensuring student support, instruction, and completion in partnership with colleagues in other areas of our colleges, including financial aid and outreach," said Julie Bruno, president of the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges and member of the California Guided Pathways Advisory Committee. "The Academic Senate is pleased to see such support for the faculty-led efforts in our community colleges to advance student learning and student achievement in an integrated and intentional manner."
The California Guided Pathways project was inspired by the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) Pathways Project. Three local colleges selected for the national project-Bakersfield College, Irvine Valley College, and Mt. San Antonio College-helped spark a movement to adapt the model to California's unique educational context. 
This project sets up a compelling opportunity for California community colleges to build on existing initiatives and appropriately adapt a guided pathways model developed for the national AACC Pathways Project by a group of national partner organizations," said Kay McClenney, senior advisor to the AACC president and CEO. 
The project is funded by the College Futures Foundation, Teagle Foundation, and college fees. In addition to AACC, the model leverages the expertise of national partners such as the Center for Community College Student Engagement, Community College Research Center, and WestEd.  An advisory committee will help advance the project by engaging representatives from the California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office, California State Universities System Office, technical assistance providers, and advocacy organizations.
"The Foundation is pleased to support a scalable approach to increase student success and completion, made possible through the support of committed philanthropic partners," said Keetha Mills, president and CEO of the Foundation for California Community Colleges. "Hundreds of thousands of students are poised to benefit from efforts to design and implement clear, structured academic and career pathways for all students.  
Foundation also serves as the hub to promote effective practices that improve college completion rates through the Success Center for California Community Colleges. 
The project will be directed by the California-based National Center for Inquiry & Improvement and an advisory committee which includes representatives from participating colleges, the California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office, the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges, Campaign for College Opportunity, the Career Ladders Project, the CSU System Office, the RP Group, and others. In addition to AACC, the Guided Pathways model draws on the experience of national partners such as the Aspen Institute, Achieving the Dream, Center for Community College Student Engagement, Community College Research Center, Jobs for the Future, Public Agenda and WestEd.  
To apply to become a participating college or to learn more about the project, please visit: Applications are due on February 28, 2017. 

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