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The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

City College joins a statewide effort to increase equality and success in California community colleges 


Pathway program mapping lead and english professor Josh Roberts. Megan Horn | Staff Photographer | [email protected]

City College joins a statewide effort to increase equality and success in California community colleges

In an effort to combat low student success rates, City College has begun a five-year integration of Guided Pathways, a statewide initiative to increase equity and success in California community colleges.

Statistics from City College’s Planning, Research and Institutional Effectiveness division show that since the 2013-2014 academic year, yearly success rates for black, Latino, Native American and Pacific Islander students have been well below those of Asian and white ethnicities. City College assesses the number of students enrolled at the college, how many classes each student has enrolled in and defines success as the number of course enrollments with a passing grade.

Numbers from the 2017-2018 year show that Latinos and Pacific Islanders saw 67 percent and 64 percent success rates respectively, while Native American and black students experienced success at 58 and 57 percent respectively. Asian and white students saw success rates of 77 percent and 76 percent respectively.

“Most students spend six years here, and we have a number of students that have changed their major 10 to 12 times,” said Kim Goff, Admissions and Records supervisor and a classified lead on Guided Pathways. “Right now students are spending four to six years in community colleges in California. That’s why Guided Pathways actually started.”

In 2017 a document titled “Vision For Success” assembled by California Community College’s Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley reported that only 48 percent of students leave community colleges with a degree, certificate or transferred after six years. The document also stated that students who completed an associate degree took an average of 5.2 years.

At the core of “Vision For Success” is the California Community Colleges Guided Pathways initiative. It received a $150 million state investment over five years from the 2017-2018 state budget and is modeled around four key concepts: clarifying paths for students, helping them get on the path, helping them stay on the path, and ensuring that they are learning. This grant will be provided to colleges that choose to meet specific criteria in implementing the guided pathways framework, according to the Academic Senate of California Community Colleges.

According to Goff, work on integrating Guided Pathways to City College began over the last year.

“At the end of five years, our plan is that all of our programs will be mapped, and it will have kind of changed the landscape of the college,” said Goff. “What we expect to see is more of our students completing college-level English and math their first year, more transfers and more degrees and certificates awarded here.”

Goff works with Guided Pathways onboarding group, which looks at relationships with high schools and what should be done to help students before they set foot on a college campus.

“Some people know what they want to do when they’re 5, but most high school students don’t know what they want to do,” said Goff. “So if we could provide more access to what possibilities are out there career-wise and major-wise, students will have a better picture of what they want to go into, and we can get them to a four-year quicker.”

Hundreds of community colleges across the country have adopted Guided Pathways over the last five years and have begun to see positive results, according to EdSource, a nonprofit dedicated to reporting key education issues.

Ginny McReynolds, interim associate vice president of instruction and administrative facilitator of Guided Pathways, feels the program can help move City College in the right direction.
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“We’re not serving our students as well as we can, particularly our brown and black students,” said McReynolds. “Our determination is that we need to do more to make the process more user-friendly and more focused on the needs of all students.”

At the core of Guided Pathways are the aforementioned educational roadmaps, which will be developed for students of any background to give them a clear pathway to success.

“These road maps will essentially be a set of courses to help students get to wherever they need to go, but there’s much more to it than that,” said Joshua Roberts, English professor and program mapping lead for Guided Pathways. “It’s really about letting students take advantage of the full breadth of all resources the school has so they can reach their goals.”

To McReynolds and Roberts, the whole point of Guided Pathways is to make students’ educational journeys “smoother and more efficient.” They stress that it is not a program students sign up for but is the integration of a better playbook for greater outcomes for all students in California community colleges.

“One thing we don’t do well is explain to students how to achieve their goals,” said Roberts. “There are a lot of areas we can focus on improving like the registration process for students, assistance with financial aid and even teaching.”

Although Roberts shares McReynolds’ sentiment that colleges are not doing enough to help students succeed, he, too, remains adamant that Guided Pathways is a move toward progress.

“We’re in the process of trying to figure out what doesn’t work and how to fix those things,” Roberts said. “One easy change we’ve already made was moving back the application deadline for high school students, allowing them more time for enrollment procedures and setting them up with better opportunities.”

Integration is still in the early stages, but Roberts reiterated that the goal is to make changes that allow the academic experience to be “smoother and much easier.”

“Change is scary,” said Roberts. “But sometimes change is necessary.”



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