We face severe challenges in college readiness and completion in the United States. The high school graduation rate is just north of 70 percent. For African American, Hispanic and low-income students, the rate hovers at slightly more than 50 percent. Of those who do graduate, only half are prepared to succeed in college. For those who enroll in postsecondary education, only about half will actually earn a degree or a certification, with as few as one quarter of low-income students completing a degree. We must take action to improve college readiness and accelerate degree completion. At the League for Innovation in the Community Colleges that is precisely what we are doing.
With the importance of student success and the longstanding challenges of college readiness and completion in mind, our organization has partnered with national higher education associations, colleges and business to lead two initiatives dedicated to improving student outcomes:
Next-Generation Learning Challenges (NGLC). NGLCs seek to dramatically improve college readiness and completion through the applied use of information technology. The initiative is focused on young adults, spanning secondary and postsecondary education (grades nine to 16). NGLCs seek to identify proven and emerging technology-enabled solutions that can scale to improve teaching and learning. As part of the program, our organization has provided college faculty and administrators with the following resources to give them the background, practical examples and applied tools they need to begin planning and designing a successful curriculum:
- A whitepaper developed with K–12 schools and higher education in mind that assembles the essential components for designing and implementing next generation learning strategies at scale, identifying technology-enhanced solutions that significantly improve student outcomes.
- A compilation of grantee profiles that illustrates promising practices and innovative approaches of nine postsecondary degree programs focused on degree completion.
The Significant Discussions Project. With support from MetLife Foundation, this program, which focuses on aligning the work of community colleges with secondary education partners, is rooted in the following realities:
- There exists serious misalignment of curriculum among secondary schools, community colleges, universities and employers.
- Collaborative discussions about curriculum alignment across educational sectors are often random and voluntary.
- Few systems are in place to institutionalize or incentivize collaborative work to improve alignment.
As part of this project, the League for Innovation in the Community College worked with program partners to develop a handbook to reduce students’ reliance on remedial coursework.
At the League of Innovation in the Community College, student success is our priority. If community colleges nationwide commit to implementing initiatives such as the ones described above, we can make real progress toward improving college readiness and degree completion, and put our students on a path to success in school and in life.