Pathways Project becomes a movement

By Gretchen Schmidt

An update on the AACC Pathways Project.

It’s hard to believe that the AACC Pathways Project has been underway for just over a year now. It has been a sprint for the colleges, partners, coaches and AACC staff.  Last year at this time, we were diligently putting the finishing touches on the curriculum for Pathways Institute #1 – Leadership for Transformational Change: Implementing Pathways at Scale.  We now have three Institutes completed and the fourth focused on Teaching and Learning along the Pathways finalized and ready to be delivered in February.

As we move forward with the development of the materials for the national project, the scaling of the Pathways Model has already begun in state-based and locally funded efforts in Michigan, Ohio, Washington and Texas and with more on the way.  There is not a day that goes by when we are not contacted by a college for more information about setting the stage for pathways reforms.  This is not an initiative, it is a movement.

I had the great privilege of talking to each Pathways college CEO and team lead over the summer in a one-hour interview.  We wanted to talk to the colleges about the progress they were making, the support that they needed in the coming year and feedback on the Institutes, the curriculum and the coaching model.  All of us were overwhelmed by the progress the colleges had made in the eight short months since being accepted into the project.  These colleges were chosen because they had the strongest foundations in place for implementing guided pathways at scale by the fall of 2018 but they all had a great deal of work to  do to get to that lofty goal.  We learned this summer that all 30 colleges will have clear and coherent structured maps for all of their academic and CTE programs implemented by Fall 2018.

All of the colleges are moving toward implementation of a meta-major structure, combining like programs together under broad umbrellas so that students have fewer but clearer choices upon entering the institution. All 30 colleges are examining and restructuring their advising models to help students make informed choices earlier in their academic career but also implementing new structures in a way that fits their local environment and culture.

The AACC Pathways staff and representatives from the partner organizations continue to develop resources and materials to support the project colleges but also to help support pathways implementation more broadly in the field.  We recently released a 1-page graphic that provides a succinct overview of the components of pathways planning and implementation.  All of the Pathways Institute materials and resources are available on the AACC Pathways website – we encourage you to use them at your institutions and with your stakeholder groups.

There will be more learning and more resources available in the coming months.  Stay tuned for Pathways-related events at the upcoming convention!

How is your college building pathways for students? Sound off on LinkedIn.

Gretchen Schmidt

Gretchen Schmidt is the executive director for the AACC Pathways Project.