Central Oregon Community College is changing how it measures success.
In accordance with the Senate Bill 1581 which was passed by Oregon Legislature in March 2012, COCC has adopted a package of projected goals called achievement compacts. An achievement compact is “a partnership agreement between the state and school district or other institution of public education that defines key measures of student success and sets targets for achievement,” according to a January 2012 release from the Oregon Education Investment Board. All public k-12 schools and community colleges in Oregon were required to come up with a list goals they intended to meet in the 2012-13 school year.
COCC President Jim Middleton described achievement compacts as a state and national push to look at outcomes, rather that just enrollment when it came to measuring the success of community college.
“Community colleges have been focused on access above all things,” said Middleton. “but there has been a call to start focusing on results.”
Middleton and Alecia Moore, the dean of student and enrollment services at COCC, were among the 12 people from across the state that met to discuss measurements should be used to assess community colleges.
The three outcome measures for community colleges, according to Middleton, are completion, progress and connections. Completion shows the rate of students who are earning adult high school diplomas, certificates/Oregon transfer modules, associates degrees and transferring to four year universities. Completion isn’t the only way to measure the success of an institution, according to Middleton, but it does need to be taken into account.
“The state would not feel served if no one ever completed,” said Middleton.
The progress section of the achievement compacts looks at students who may not have graduated, but are still moving steadily towards a goal. It measures the amount of students who have made progress in remedial math and writing programs, according to Middleton, as well as students who pass national licensure exams, such as for nursing or massage therapy. Community colleges are also measured by how well they are linked to other entities. The connections measurements take into consideration how many students colleges have that are dually enrolled in high school, as well as how many students are transferring from community colleges to Oregon universities. In the future this section of the achievement compacts may also include how community college programs link to student employment, according to Middleton.
What this means for COCC
State funding of community colleges has not yet changed because of achievement compacts. However, the eventual goal is for funding to transition from being enrollment based to being determined by student success, according to Moore. She predicted that there would be changes at COCC to embrace the measurements of completion, progress and connections.
“I would like us to see our programs have an intentional shift towards supporting these measurements,” said Moore.
One thing that will not change, according to Moore, is COCC’s “open door” policy. COCC will not decrease or limit the students allowed to enroll.
“As a community college our goal is to be an open door institution,” said Moore.
This is the first year of achievement compacts and they are still in the “experimental” phase, according to Middleton, but he believes they are a step in the right direction.
“It motivates some of the right debate,” said Middleton. “and has potential for rewarding improvement in the right areas.”
- An early alert initiative to identify and assist students who are struggling in their classes early in the term.
- Process of awarding certificates and degrees to students who have earned them but have not filled out the application to graduate.
- Redesign of programs, similar to the redesign that was done to COCC’s math program.
Story by Cedar Goslin | The Broadside firstname.lastname@example.org