President Obama, foundation leaders and the heads of advocacy groups all agree that community colleges need to focus on more than access and drastically improve their generally low completion rates. By and large, these leaders believe that these institutions know, whether by research or common sense, just what to do – such as providing better academic advising, outreach to struggling students, financial aid to encourage full-time enrollment, smaller class sizes and so forth. So what’s the holdup? Community college presidents across the country argue there is a great disparity between what is being asked of their institutions as far as the “completion agenda” and their ability to actually accomplish its goals – mostly because of dwindling state and local resources.
Last month, at the annual convention of the American Association of Community Colleges, six of the sector’s leading education and policy organizations signed what they deemed “a call to action” – a commitment to improve student completion rates by 50 percent over the next decade. The pledge appealed to the sense of responsibility that officials at these open-access institutions often feel toward their community: “With the ‘completion agenda’ as a national imperative, community colleges have an obligation to meet the challenge while holding firmly to traditional values of access, opportunity, and quality.
Source: Carnegie Foundation