Giving Compass’ Take:
• Stanford Social Innovation Review discusses efforts to improve educational equity through the West Hills Community College District in California’s rural Central Valley, with an emphasis on workforce training.
• As the economy shifts, higher ed institutions are focusing more on career preparation, but affordability is still an obstacle. Can the West Hills project provide a model for the rest of the country to follow?
Public postsecondary education is in transition. This should come as no surprise to anyone who has taken an online course, read an open-source textbook, or used an app in a classroom. Innovation in higher education — particularly through reforms that increase college completion rates and make it more affordable — can create academic and economic pathways for students who otherwise may never have those opportunities.
The Central Valley Career Advancement Academy used SB 1070 legislation to establish an eight-college consortium working to close the gap between industry and education by placing skilled workers in vacant jobs. To meet regional needs, the Central Valley colleges built programs in areas such as manufacturing and machining, health care language interpretation, wastewater treatment, and information technology.
On average, dropout rates lowered by at least 10 percent, which translates to retaining three more students per class who would have otherwise dropped. Classes also focused on increasing performance levels in reading, writing, and mathematics by keeping peers together over multiple semesters and reintroducing basic skills into advanced curriculum. Pre and post testing of CAA student groups recorded average grade level increases of more than one level in reading and more than five levels in mathematics where basic skills were reintroduced. Career Advancement Academy programs were among the first in the state to test these techniques, which state and federal programs adopted in subsequent years.
Read the full article about sparking education and career pathways by Brian Boomer at Stanford Social Innovation Review.
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