Vision for Success for - Reaffirming Equity in a Time of Recovery - California Community ...

Vision for Success for - Reaffirming Equity in a Time of Recovery - California Community ...
Update to the

Vision for Success
Reaffirming Equity in a Time of Recovery

                                  July 2021
Vision for Success for - Reaffirming Equity in a Time of Recovery - California Community ...
2   California Community Colleges Vision for Success
Vision for Success for - Reaffirming Equity in a Time of Recovery - California Community ...
                        A Message from the Chancellor ...................................... 4

                        Our North Star Remains Unchanged ............................... 7

                        Our System’s Approach to Equity Continues to Evolve .... 10

                        Reaffirming Our Commitments to Students ................... 14

                          COMMITMENT 1: Focus relentlesly on students’ end goals ............................... 15

                          COMMITMENT 2: Design and decide with the student in mind ......................... 17

                          COMMITMENT 3: Pair high expectations with high support............................... 19

                          COMMITMENT 4: Foster the use of data, inquiry, and evidence ........................ 21

                          COMMITMENT 5: Take ownership of goals and performance ............................ 23

                          COMMITMENT 6: Enable action and thoughtful innovation .............................. 25

                          COMMITMENT 7: Lead the work of partnering across systems ......................... 27

                        Making Progress One Step at a Time.............................. 29

                        On the Horizon ............................................................ 32

Irvine Valley College

Reaffirming Equity in a Time of Recovery                                                                              3
Vision for Success for - Reaffirming Equity in a Time of Recovery - California Community ...
A Message from
    the Chancellor
                In 2017, the California Community Colleges
                Board of Governors adopted the Vision for
                Success. In these last four years, the Vision
                for Success has served as our collective
                North Star, by making clear our goals for
                improvement and our commitment to
                do better for both our students and for
                our state. Now, in 2021 I am pleased to
                present the Update to the Vision for Success:
                Reaffirming Equity in a Time of Recovery.

                From the beginning, the Vision for Success
                has always been about equity. Indeed, its
                overarching goal (Goal 5) is to reduce equity
                gaps across all measures by 40 percent
                within 5 years and to fully close those gaps
                within 10 years. Moreover, the seven core
                commitments of the Vision for Success are
                designed to help us all reframe how our
                colleges are structured and how we behave,
                putting the student experience front and
                center. When implemented with integrity,
                these commitments have the power to
                dramatically improve outcomes for students
                of color and students whose income, region,
                or life circumstances have put them at a
                disadvantage. Now, at four years into the
                Vision for Success, we are beginning to see
                consistent progress, especially in rising
                completion rates across the system. Still,
                we can do more.

4         California Community Colleges Vision for Success
Vision for Success for - Reaffirming Equity in a Time of Recovery - California Community ...
“      It is critical to chart a course to a new day when all Californians
                                                can actively participate in helping our state thrive. What is the
                                                best route to that future? Preparing everyone with the training
                                                and education necessary to engage in the high-quality, in-
                                                demand jobs that will drive a recovering, vital economy.”
                                                — Governor’s Council for Postsecondary Education
                                                    in the 2021 Recovery with Equity report1

It is clear that many of our students are       in California’s economic and social recovery.      Finally, to all of the hardworking community
suffering from the collective traumas of        The recent Recovery with Equity report from        college professionals across the state, I
the past year: the pandemic and resulting       the Governor’s Council for Postsecondary           thank you on behalf of our 2.1 million
financial devastation, a nationwide reckoning   Education calls on higher education to             students. I know you must feel exhausted
with systemic and institutional racism, a       advance four guiding principles: Fostering         but please, keep up the good work and
tumultuous election, and worsening social       inclusive institutions, streamlining pathways      persevere. Our students need you. I invite
divisions fueled by disinformation. The         to degrees, facilitating student transitions,      you to join us in celebrating our collective
multiple crises of the last year have left us   and simplifying supports for students.             wins, redoubling our commitment to do
all feeling untethered, but this past year      We are in complete agreement with these            better, and supporting our students through
has also offered us an opportunity to see       principles. They align closely with the goals      anything that comes their way.
more clearly the resilience of our students     and commitments of the 2017 Vision for
and the value of our institutions. Community    Success. With the release of this update, we
colleges are uniquely positioned to aid         are doubling down on our commitments and
in our state’s recovery. California needs       answering the Governor’s call to help rebuild      Sincerely,
an educated populace to shape the new           California with equity.
economy, rebuild our infrastructure, fight
future pandemics, and participate in our        The Vision for Success is not an initiative, nor
democracy as informed voters and activists.     is it a “one and done” reform. I am confident
The system’s vast size and scope make it a      that the Vision for Success will long outlast
vital instrument for achieving these ends.      my tenure as Chancellor. It has gained
                                                                                                   Eloy Ortiz Oakley
                                                                                                   Chancellor, California Community Colleges
At the same time, community colleges are        strength over the years as leaders, faculty,
accessible and personal institutions that can   staff, and allies across the state have taken
also help students on an individual level to    ownership of its goals and commitments,
regain their hopes and rebuild their futures.   listened to students, tried and refined new
Students need us and we are here to deliver     approaches, and continued to move forward
for them. Simply put, this is our moment.       in the face of great challenges. Collectively,
                                                we have shown that we are all invested in
The purpose of this document is to reaffirm     the Vision for Success and are all called to
our goals and commitments in light of           be courageous, equity-centered leaders.
today’s challenges, reiterate our resolve to    In particular I acknowledge and thank the
achieve equity, and show how the California     district leaders who shared their experiences
Community Colleges will play a central role     and success stories in the pages that follow.

Reaffirming Equity in a Time of Recovery                                                                                                       5
Vision for Success for - Reaffirming Equity in a Time of Recovery - California Community ...
5-Year Systemwide Goals
    1 | Increase completion of degrees, credentials, certificates,
        and job-specific skill sets by 20% between 2017 and 2022

    2 | Increase transfers to UC and CSU by 35% between
        2017 and 2022

    3 | Decrease the average number of units accumulated by
        associate’s degree earners to 79 units by 2022 (down
        from an average of 87 units in 2017)
    4 | Increase the number of exiting CTE students
        employed in their field of study to 76% by 2022
        (up from 60% in 2017)

    5 | Reduce equity gaps by 40% across all the above
        measures by 2022, and fully close those gaps by 2027

    6 | Close regional gaps across all of the above
        measures by 2027

6                                              California Community Colleges Vision for Success
Vision for Success for - Reaffirming Equity in a Time of Recovery - California Community ...
College of San Mateo

Our North Star
Remains Unchanged
In 2017, the Vision for Success established
a set of robust five-year goals to serve as
a “North Star” in guiding the collective
reform efforts of the California Community
                                                  unrest, and worsening political divisions
                                                  and misinformation campaigns. Students
                                                  in the California Community Colleges
                                                  have suffered as a result of these events—
                                                                                                  “   This ladder that we hold
                                                                                                      up, community colleges
                                                                                                      as a ladder to mobility,
Colleges. These goals established clear           personally, financially, and academically.
targets for completion, transfer, efficiency,
                                                                                                      is crumbling to dust for
and employment, and most importantly, for         In response, community colleges pivoted             our Black, brown and
closing equity gaps and regional attainment       heroically in 2020 and made rapid changes           low-income students.”
gaps (see sidebar on page 6). In addition         to meet students’ needs (see sidebar on
to establishing systemwide goals, the 2017        page 8). With an attitude of “all hands on          — Andrew Nickens
Vision for Success also called for college        deck,” leaders, faculty, and staff throughout          Student and Vice President, Legislative
districts to develop and adopt aligned local      the college system stepped up to continue              Affairs, Student Senate of the
goals for student success, which all districts    providing high-quality education and services          California Community Colleges,
have now done.                                    despite a statewide shutdown. Student                  on a 2021 California Community
                                                  leaders were also instrumental, providing a            Colleges System webinar2
Of course, when the Vision for Success            much-needed conduit of information to and
goals were established, no one could have         from students. All in all, the system proved
imagined the major disruptions and setbacks       remarkably nimble and resilient.
that students and colleges would face in
2020. COVID-19 ravaged our state in deeply
inequitable ways, causing great harm in
particular to Black and African American,
Latinx, and low-income communities.
Further societal damage ensued from highly
visible police killings, months of acute social

Reaffirming Equity in a Time of Recovery                                                                                                       7
Vision for Success for - Reaffirming Equity in a Time of Recovery - California Community ...
Evergreen Valley College

                                        Responding to COVID-19
“   A piece of advice I could
    give to students would be
    explore your resources.
                                        In response to the COVID-19 pandemic of
                                        2020 and 2021, the California Community
                                        Colleges took bold action to step up for
                                        students, communities, and the State of
                                                                                        updates on pandemic developments and a
                                                                                        place to ask questions and share promising
                                                                                        response practices. It also provided weekly
                                                                                        webinars for college leaders to support
    I’ve noticed that all the           California. Most notably, colleges moved        effective COVID-19 responses. To help the
                                        virtually all instruction to online learning    system transition to online learning in
    resources that we would             platforms in a matter of weeks, a feat of       science-related disciplines specifically, the
    have had on campus—                 sheer resolve for the world’s largest higher    Chancellor’s Office purchased a virtual lab
                                        education system. Just as challenging,          platform and expanded technical assistance
    whether that’s tutoring             colleges also moved virtually all student       for faculty using the platform. To assist
    for each different subject,         support services online in the spring,          students, the Chancellor’s Office enacted
    whether it’s mental                 including academic counseling, library          policy changes in March 2020 to ensure that
                                        services, financial aid, tutoring, and more.    students were not penalized academically
    health services—those               Many campuses also lent their facilities to     or financially for withdrawing from classes
    have also been translated           serve emergency healthcare and housing          due to COVID-19.
                                        needs during the height of the pandemic
    to an online format.”               and contributed ventilators, masks, and         The Foundation for California Community
                                        other Personal Protection Equipment from        Colleges took action to increase awareness
    — Gurshaan Arora
                                        the stockpiles of college-based health          of CalFresh, California’s food assistance
        student, Foothill College, on
                                        training programs. Colleges also leapt into     program.4 Additionally, the Foundation
       the California Community
                                        action to provide aid to students, from         launched a relief campaign specifically for
       Colleges podcast3
                                        emergency food to housing services to cash      students working toward certificates or
                                        assistance. In addition to administering and    degrees in health care, delivering almost
                                        coordinating new funding associated with        $1 million in crucial emergency support,
                                        the federal stimulus packages, many colleges    mobile hotspots, and laptops.5
                                        repurposed existing resources to meet the
                                        needs of students in acute financial distress   These activities and others are examples
                                        during the pandemic.                            of the California Community Colleges’
                                                                                        responsiveness and resilience in the
                                        To assist college leaders and employees,        face of a highly unpredictable working
                                        the Chancellor’s Office issued executive        environment. The college system was able
                                        orders and guidance to provide flexibility      to adapt and make bold, rapid changes in
                                        on reporting deadlines, temporarily suspend     service of students—an accomplishment
                                        various regulations and requirements, and       that can serve as a foundation for facing
                                        take other actions to relieve administrative    future challenges.
                                        burdens. The Chancellor’s Office launched
                                        a COVID-19 Community on the Vision
                                        for Success Resource Center, providing

8                                                                               California Community Colleges Vision for Success
Vision for Success for - Reaffirming Equity in a Time of Recovery - California Community ...
Community colleges will need to continue
these strong efforts in the months and years
ahead, and the task won’t be easy. Compared
to four years ago:
                                                 • Some students are stepping away from
                                                   their educational paths. For Fall 2020,
                                                   California Community Colleges student
                                                   headcount and full-time enrollment is
                                                                                                 “   I had to go to sleep
                                                                                                     hungry because I had to
                                                                                                     choose between gas for
                                                   down, with the most serious declines
                                                                                                     traveling and textbooks
• Students are in worse shape financially.         in hard-hit communities and among
  Over half of California Community                students of color, male students, and             and food…I had to choose
  College students saw a decrease in their         students over 50 years old.11 Many                between buying my kids
  income in 2020 due to lay-offs, furloughs,       students have had to take on new
  or work reductions associated with               responsibilities as caretakers or
                                                                                                     shoes and transportation,
  COVID-19, with greater impacts among             breadwinners, making it unclear if and            housing, food…No one
  students of color.6                              when they might return to complete their
                                                                                                     should have to make
                                                   higher education.
• More students have become housing- or                                                              these kinds of choices.”
  food-insecure. Nearly 60% of California       In spite of these many difficulties, students
  Community College students reported           as a whole have persevered and most are              — Marjorie Blen
  food insecurity, housing insecurity, or       continuing their educations. While the                 Student, on a 2021 California
  homelessness in 2020. Students of color       pandemic has been a major disruption,                  Community Colleges System webinar12

  were 16 percentage points more likely to      the California Community Colleges are
  report at least one basic needs insecurity    not abandoning the ambitious goals set in            The work ahead is
  than white students.7                         2017. The overarching North Star remains             challenging. But the
                                                the same: to reach the systemwide Vision
• Students are experiencing fresh pain          for Success targets for completion, transfer,        post-secondary sector,
  and trauma from racial injustice.             efficiency, workforce attainment, and above          in partnership with
  The racism and racial violence that           all, equity. The California Community
  students witnessed in the last year has       Colleges have proven to be nimble, adaptable,
                                                                                                     communities across the
  compounded the existing pain felt             and able to rise to the challenge of serving         state, can build a more
  from long-standing injustices in our          students even in the face of great challenges.       equitable future from
  society and our institutions. This can        As discussed in the pages that follow,
  affect students in deeply personal ways,      forward-thinking college leaders have even           this crisis. Together,
  undermining their focus, self-esteem,         been able to leverage the disruption of the          Californians can make
  and hope for the future.                      pandemic and make real progress toward
                                                serving students better. Such opportunities
                                                                                                     that future a reality.”
• Students’ mental health is suffering. Two-    will continue as the system rebuilds in
                                                                                                     — Governor’s Council for
  thirds of California Community College        the coming years. With continued effort,
                                                                                                       Postsecondary Education
  students report experiencing higher           California can become a national model for
                                                                                                       in the 2021 Recovery with
  levels of anxiety, stress, depression, or     equitable recovery in higher education.
                                                                                                       Equity report 13
  mental distress than usual, and nearly
  half are having difficulty concentrating
  in school.8 Over a third are concerned
  about the risk of developing a substance
  abuse problem.9

• The pandemic has exacerbated the digital
  divide. Low-income students, many of
  them students of color, are less likely to
  have access to the internet, functioning
  laptops, and quiet study space and privacy,
  putting them at greater disadvantage
  during the shift to distance learning.10

Reaffirming Equity in a Time of Recovery                                                                                                     9
Vision for Success for - Reaffirming Equity in a Time of Recovery - California Community ...
San Joaquin Delta College

                                     Our System’s
                                     Approach to Equity
                                     Continues to Evolve
“    When we’re talking about
     equity it’s not just about
     having a program for a
                                     The California Community Colleges have
                                     always been an instrument for achieving
                                     broad access to higher education. The colleges
                                     are the largest system of post-secondary
                                                                                      As the college student population became
                                                                                      more diverse over the latter part of the 20th
                                                                                      century, it became increasingly clear that a
                                                                                      traditional model with added-on supports
                                     education in the world and serve all             was not a sustainable approach for achieving
     hundred students and
                                     applicants regardless of educational             racial equity or success. College systems
     saying, ‘It’s equitable.’       background or life trajectory. The colleges      came to realize that more transformative
     No, we’re saying we need        offer a quality higher education at the          change was needed to restructure
                                     lowest tuition sticker price found anywhere      institutions from the ground up.
     to restructure our entire       in the country. Despite this unparalleled
     organization to make            commitment to affordability and accessibility,   With the 2017 Vision for Success, the California
                                     the California Community Colleges—like           Community Colleges embarked on a series
     sure that all students, not
                                     most higher education institutions—were          of systemic efforts aimed at building racial
     just one hundred, are           largely designed for traditional students,       equity into the core infrastructure of the
     receiving all the services      who at the time were predominantly white         colleges. These reforms were conceived as
                                     middle-class students who had access             an interconnected set, based on the belief
     they need to complete           to a K-12 education that was sufficiently        that entrenched institutional problems can
     their education goals.”         resourced and supported. As a result, the        only be solved with a clear vision, multiple
                                     colleges’ bureaucratic structures generally      coordinated reforms aligned to that vision,
     — Keith Curry                   reinforced the marginalization of students       and persistence over many years. No longer
        President, Compton College   of color. In decades past, colleges did          at the margins, these reforms mark an effort
                                     acknowledge inequitable outcomes among           to put equity concerns front and center while
                                     low-income students and students of color,       improving the overall performance and
                                     but these were addressed through discrete        success of the entire college. These major
                                     programs that existed at the margins of the      systemic reforms are still in the relatively
                                     college, with separate funding streams and       early stages and will require many more
                                     lines of reporting, rather than structural       years of persistent effort to reach full impact.
                                     changes to the college as a whole.

10                                                                            California Community Colleges Vision for Success
Of course, in the day-to-day work of
implementing the Vision for Success reform
strategies, it can be difficult to keep sight
of how these reforms serve and support
                                                  • Equitable Placement and Support
                                                    remedies past unfair practices that
                                                    over-placed students into remedial
                                                    education, especially students of color,
                                                                                                    “   The funding formula
                                                                                                        incentives make sense
                                                                                                        and are aligned with what
each other and are aligned toward the               creating obstacles to their momentum
                                                                                                        we as a set of colleges are
same end point. In summary, this is how             and success. To date, this policy has
they fit together to advance equity and             greatly expanded access to college-level            doing: increasing college
student success:                                    coursework for students across the                  access and equity toward
                                                    board and has significantly narrowed
 • Guided Pathways is a framework for               achievement gaps between white students
                                                                                                        completion, especially
   transformative institutional change              and students of color, getting the college          for first-generation, low-
   that provides a structure for colleges to        system closer to its goals for improved
                                                                                                        income, adult learners and
   scrutinize their practices, disaggregate         completion and equity.
   data to uncover opportunity and                                                                      underresourced students
   attainment gaps, and redesign college          • The Student Centered Funding Formula                and communities.”
   programs and policies with the aim of            weights funding towards colleges that
   providing every student with a clear path        serve low-income students and English               — Francisco Rodriguez
   to graduation and quality job opportunities.     learners. Colleges receive additional                 Chancellor, Los Angeles
   Guided Pathways is based on the idea             dollars when students reach specified                 Community College District
   that students need structured, cohesive          educational milestones and outcomes,

   support to reach their end goals and             plus an additional funding bump when
   recognizes that support needs will differ        higher-needs students reach these                   It used to be that the only
   from one individual student to another.          milestones. This change aligns fiscal               financial incentive was
                                                    resources with the systemwide goals
 • Diversity, Equity and Inclusion efforts          for improved success and equity.                    for us to grow, but now
   provide a roadmap to making campuses                                                                 we have an incentive
   safer, more accessible, and more               • The restructuring of Career Technical
   welcoming to students of color and               Education aims to build more career
                                                                                                        to serve different types
   underserved student groups. These                pathways that lead directly into well-              of students. It makes
   initiatives promote diversity in hiring,         paying jobs and to award credit for                 sense to tie goals to the
   aim to eliminate cultural bias in teaching       demonstrated competence and prior
   and curriculum, and help to counteract           learning. These reforms are expanding               financial underpinnings
   institutional racism. They help to level         opportunities, especially for adult learners,       of the system.”
   the playing field and expand opportunity,        and will lead to more students reaching
   helping more students reach their                their end goal of a living-wage job.                — Brian King
   end goals.                                                                                             Chancellor, Los Rios
                                                                                                          Community College District

Reaffirming Equity in a Time of Recovery                                                                                               11
Santa Monica College

“    Historically, our system has
     not been set up to meet
     people where they are. It
                                                 Heading now into the 2020s, the colleges’
                                                 approach to equity continues to evolve
                                                 in response to students’ needs and the
                                                 circumstances of our state and society.
                                                                                                   have been systemically disadvantaged. These
                                                                                                   efforts especially aim to call out and correct
                                                                                                   policies and practices that are inherently
                                                                                                   racist, while also recognizing and addressing
                                                 The California Community Colleges Board           the damaging effects of ableism, sexism, and
     has been set up in a way
                                                 of Governors has adopted an unequivocal           discrimination based on gender identity,
     that says, if you have all                  statement committing to diversity, equity,        sexuality, or other characteristics.
     the right words and you                     and inclusion that is serving as a model to
                                                 other systems in California and nationally.       As our society moves forward and seeks to
     know where to go, then                      As a system, the California Community             recover from the social and health traumas
     you’ll get what you need.                   Colleges are beginning to address institutional   of the past year, the California Community
                                                 racism and injustice in a more explicit           Colleges will do their part: welcoming every
     It is not inclusive. The
                                                 and intentional way. Colleges are trying to       student individually, meeting students
     result is to exclude some                   build truly diverse and inclusive colleges by     where they are, and providing the necessary
     versus others, whether                      encouraging frank conversations about race        high quality supports that will level the
                                                 and institutional racism, auditing campus         playing field and provide truly equitable
     that’s intentional or not.”                 environments, examining curricula for             opportunities for advancement.
                                                 cultural bias, overhauling hiring, reforming
     — Pamela Haynes
                                                 police training programs, advocating for
        President of the Board of Governors of
                                                 undocumented students, and providing
        the California Community Colleges
                                                 more direct assistance to students who

12                                                                                         California Community Colleges Vision for Success
“   ...Our students are hurting and they are outraged
     because of the systemic racial injustices that still
     exist in our country. In this moment, we need
    to use our positions of privilege, influence and
     power to make a difference… We cannot say
    that we are equity champions and be afraid to
     have open dialogue about structural racism.”
    — Eloy Ortiz Oakley
       Chancellor, California Community Colleges14

                                                     Los Angeles Southwest College
     Our Commitments
     to Students
     The 2017 Vision for Success articulated seven commitments that function
     as a set to drive improvement, success, and equity:

      1 | Focus relentlessly on students’ end goals.

      2 | Always design and decide with the student in mind.

      3 | Pair high expectations with high support.

      4 | Foster the use of data, inquiry, and evidence.

      5 | Take ownership of goals and performance.

      6 | Enable action and thoughtful innovation.

      7 | Lead the work of partnering across systems.

     Each of these commitments is                   Although the ground has seemingly shifted
     fundamentally about students: giving each      in the years since these commitments were
     student a fair opportunity, paying attention   first made, they are just as relevant today, if
     to their results, and continually making       not more so. They will carry the California
     structural adjustments to serve students       Community Colleges through recovery. With
     better, especially students of color and       continued adherence to these commitments
     low-income students.                           and courageous, equity-centered leadership,
                                                    the colleges can fulfill their role as engines
                                                    of economic and social recovery. In the
                                                    pages that follow, each commitment is
                                                    discussed in light of this moment—both its
                                                    new challenges and new opportunities.

14                                                                   California Community Colleges Vision for Success
San Joaquin Delta College

Focus relentlessly on students’ end goals
This commitment is about getting all students to their end goals.
Colleges should be designed equitably to lead all students to concrete
outcomes that have personal and economic value, such as a high-quality
certificate, degree, or transfer to a four-year university. This commitment
is fundamental, so much so that all other commitments are designed to
support it.
Given the extreme circumstances of                 encouraging their peers to return to college
the past year, focusing on students’ end           (a good use of one-time recovery funds,
goals matters now more than ever. Many             as some colleges have found). Restoring
students are finding it hard to hold on to         access is critical at this time. Of course, this
their own educational hopes and dreams.            focus needs to be paired with a steadfast
As administrators, faculty, staff, and allies,     commitment to student completion.
we all have a critical role to play in helping
students connect or reconnect with their           Looking ahead, the California Community
educational goals and supporting each of           Colleges must ensure that the relentless
them to completion.                                focus on outcomes is really about equitable
                                                   outcomes. Student success cannot be
Of course, in the aftermath of the pandemic,       achieved without equity. Guided Pathways
the most immediate concern of many colleges        is becoming more established as a normal
will be restoring educational access. Students     way of doing business, and colleges
have been cut off from classes and support         typically disaggregate program results and
services due to a lack of technology or internet   completion data to understand how different
access. Many students have been forced into        student groups are faring. Now is the time
work or care-taking roles that prevent them        for colleges to move beyond data analysis
from continuing their studies. As colleges         and take the next step of experimenting with
reopen, it will be critical to reach out and get   bold program improvements that have the
students reenrolled, through individualized        potential to advance equity in meaningful
outreach, enrollment campaigns, and by             ways. See sidebar for a leading example
offering services and courses when, where,         from Cosumnes River College.
and how students need them. Colleges
should bring students to the table to inform
and co-design these efforts and to help in

Reaffirming Equity in a Time of Recovery                                                                                          15
How Cosumnes River College
                         is Focusing Relentlessly on
                         Students’ End Goals
                         Cosumnes River College (CRC) has been                jumped, with the greatest gains among
                         advancing a rigorous set of reforms under            Latinx and Black and African American
                         the Guided Pathways framework, all aimed             students, resulting in reduced equity gaps.
                         at improving student outcomes while closing          College-wide, enrollment increased by
                         equity gaps and upholding rigor. Based on            3.85 percent while headcount increased
                         the research literature and their own data           by only one percent, gains that benefitted
                         analysis, CRC leaders made a decision to             the college financially while making more
                         substantially increase the number of students        efficient use of facilities and resources. CRC
                         enrolled full time and the number taking             has now expanded its default schedule to
                         college-level English or math in their first         cover a student’s first full year and ultimately
                         term—two behaviors known to build                    plans to have students enroll with default
                         momentum and help students complete                  two-year plans.
                         a degree or transfer.
                                                                              While progress has slowed in the face of
                         To make this happen, CRC began providing             the pandemic, the college continues to
                         all students who are recent high school              take deliberate steps to ensure success and
                         graduates with a “default” first-term                equity. In the last year, CRC has expanded
                         schedule that includes a 15-unit course load         eligibility for its English supports and
                         and enrollment in college-level math and             math centers, expanded online tutoring,
                         English. The default schedule is specific to         and leveraged its case management
                         the student’s area of study and guaranteed to        infrastructure and call centers to reach out
                         be available in the student’s first academic         to students who are not attending class.
                         term. (It is not required, however— students         “We are really trying to be high tech and
                         who are unable or uninterested in that               high touch in this environment,” says CRC
                         schedule can still opt out and enroll in other       President Ed Bush.
                         courses or at a lower level of intensity.)
                                                                              In 2020, the college also launched a “We Won’t
                         As part of its comprehensive Guided                  Fall” initiative with 13 goals for addressing
                         Pathways work, the college also developed            institutional racism and improving outcomes
                         two-year program pathways, a case                    for Latinx and Black and African American
                         management approach to counseling, and               students. The initiative brings an equity
                         Student Success Teams aligned with specific          emphasis to all of CRC’s institutional reforms,
                         career and academic areas. They adopted              its professional development, its efforts to
Cosumnes River College   new technology to support the default                change teaching and learning in the classroom,
                         scheduling and provided professional                 and even its faculty evaluation procedures.
                         development to both classified staff and
                         faculty to assist them in adopting Guided            The initiative’s targets were very ambitious,
                         Pathways reforms. CRC also leveraged its             aiming to increase full-time enrollment even
                         existing outreach activities at area high            in the midst of the pandemic, and ultimately,
                         schools, using those opportunities to fully          says Bush, the college did not quite make
                         enroll students in their first term classes,         it—the external realities were simply too
                         not merely fill out college applications.            great to overcome. But one intention of
                                                                              the goals was met, he says. “Part of it was
                         CRC’s hard work paid off, with the default           to make sure that no group fell off the cliff
                         schedule in particular showing immediate             during this time. Those goals are going to
                         results. In the initiative’s first year, the share   stay in place until we hit them. It is going to
                         of all new CRC students enrolling full time in       be the same goals we set every fall until we
                         their first term nearly doubled. Completions         hit those goals for those target populations.”
                         of transfer-level math and English also

16                                                                    California Community Colleges Vision for Success
Design and decide with the student in mind
This commitment is about two things: 1) Designing all institutional
programs, policies, and investments with the student experience in mind,
                                                                                                 “   I’ve entered into the
                                                                                                     community college system
                                                                                                     three different times and
particularly the experience of students of color and other underserved                               every time that I’ve come
groups, and 2) “Erring” on the side of students whenever possible in                                 back, the [student] dynamic
individual administrative and classroom decisions that have the power to                             has changed, the [student]
either move students forward toward their end goals or hold them back.                               culture has changed. You
In the process of enrolling, registering, and      student forward toward their goal. Says
                                                                                                     need to continue to keep
accessing aid or services, students typically      Haynes, “We’ve got to give our institutions       your ear to the ground
interact with community colleges through           agency and permission to ‘get to yes’ for
multiple offices, programs, and digital            students. Our purpose is to move
                                                                                                     on what that student
platforms, often with little guidance. Says        folks forward.”                                   perspective is, what that
Pamela Haynes, President of the Board of                                                             student culture is, to be
Governors of the California Community              One of the surest ways to fulfill this
Colleges, “Students often have to go from          commitment is to bring students to the
                                                                                                     able to set students up for
building to building, or make phone call           table and authentically engage them to            success, because they’re
after phone call. There’s rarely a ‘warm           shape programs and set guidelines for
handoff’ with someone following through            decisions. With a representative group of
                                                                                                     constantly changing.”
and saying ‘We spoke last week. Did you            students as co-designers, reform efforts          — Stephen Kodur
get what you need?’ That’s the kind of             are much more likely to work for everyone.          Student and President, Student Senate
coordination we need.”                             Moreover, once students are invested in a           for California Community Colleges
                                                   reform initiative, they can play a critical
Other problems occur when students                 role in advocating for it. “Governance is
are penalized for missing deadlines or             healthier when students are involved in
misunderstanding policies that were poorly         the decisions,” says Chancellor Eloy Ortiz
communicated in the first place, or perhaps        Oakley. For example, he notes, once student
were designed in a different era for a different   advocates understood the objectives of
type of student. Unfortunately, campus             Equitable Placement and Support (AB 705),
policies and gatekeepers sometimes stop            they were among its loudest supporters. “AB
students’ progress; a better approach would        705 wouldn’t be here without the students
be to give administrators permission and           organizing and pushing to be at the table.”
flexibility to err on the side of moving the

Reaffirming Equity in a Time of Recovery                                                                                                  17
Sacramento City College
                          When engaging with students, it is important    for Postsecondary Education. That report’s
                          to reach out to students from a diverse         first recommendation is to “Listen carefully
                          range of backgrounds, experiences, and          to the voices and expectations of Black and
                          life circumstances—not just those who are       African American, Latinx, Indigenous, Asian
                          financially able to participate or those in     Pacific Islander, and adult learners—those
                          campus leadership roles. Students may also      student groups experiencing the widest
                          need time and training to engage in complex     equity gaps today—in determining priorities
                          planning processes. Some forward-thinking       for redesign of the post-secondary system.”
                          colleges are experimenting with paying          Community colleges also need to get
                          students to bring authentic student voices to   ahead of changing demographics and start
                          the table and support their deep engagement     revamping policies, practices, and services
                          in reform work. Cosumnes River College, for     to best serve the populations that are
                          example, is considering adding students as      growing and will continue to grow as the
                          paid advisors to its career-themed student      traditional “college age” population shrinks.
                          success teams.                                  This will include working adults, displaced
                                                                          workers, and incarcerated/formerly
                          Looking ahead, this commitment will be          incarcerated students, among others. As
                          critical as California recovers from the        the student body evolves, authentic and
                          pandemic and rebuilds its higher education      representative student engagement will be
                          system as called for in the Recovery with       essential for designing community colleges
                          Equity report from the Governor’s Council       that work for everyone.

18                                                                California Community Colleges Vision for Success
Pair high expectations with high support
This commitment is about knowing that all students are capable of
learning and achieving their end goals. It requires colleges to provide
                                                                                                      “   Students shouldn’t have
                                                                                                          to perform their poverty.
                                                                                                          We’ve centralized all our
robust and wide-ranging supports to meet students where they are and                                      services so that students
help them achieve those goals.                                                                            only have to go to one
                                                                                                          place…We put it in the
As a system, community colleges have               California Community Colleges had some                 middle of our campus
become more knowledgeable about the                of the highest rates of food and housing
kinds of academic expectations that will           insecurity among colleges nationwide.                  where a new quad is and
help students stay in school and reach             California community college students                  we’re going to put out
their educational goals, such as attending         have limited access to financial aid to cover
full-time, taking college-level classes in their   living expenses, despite facing some of
                                                                                                          picnic tables, because
first year, and getting on a degree pathway        the highest costs of living in the country.15          nobody should have to
right from the start. More and more, colleges      Students’ social and emotional health is also          be ashamed of going in.”
are becoming more intentional about how            fragile. Highly visible racial violence and
to encourage and support these behaviors,          injustices over the past year have brought             — Pamela Luster
including by building these expectations           additional anxiety and trauma to a student               President, San Diego Mesa College
into core policies and practices. A leading        body that was already frayed by the stresses
example of this is Equitable Placement and         of the pandemic.
Support (AB 705), a reform that has shown
impressive results to date (see sidebar on         Recognizing these complex needs, colleges
page 30) and has the potential for greater         have dramatically stepped up to serve
returns in the future if colleges can continue     students in expansive and creative ways,
to build and strengthen equitable supports         including food pantries (now commonplace),
for students enrolled in college-level courses.    food delivery, emergency housing
Even during these challenging times, it is         arrangements with local hotels, clothing
crucial to keep academic expectations high         closets, shower facilities, and emergency
for all students regardless of their background,   cash aid. It is important for colleges to ensure
so that each one has a fair shot at successfully   these services are accessible, inclusive, and
completing college.                                dignified. Colleges are finding many ways
                                                   to do this, such as making services highly
At the same time, it is clear that high academic   visible and accessible rather than waiting
expectations and academic supports are             for students to ask for help, or making
not enough. Even before the pandemic, the          services available on an “opt out” basis

Reaffirming Equity in a Time of Recovery                                                                                                        19
American River College

“    I have a job 35 hours a
     week. I [frequently] have
     to sacrifice one over the
                                              rather than “opt in.” Establishing a culture
                                              where the utilization of support services
                                              is the norm rather than the exception
                                              goes a long way in making a student feel
                                                                                               In the realm of basic needs services, the
                                                                                               greatest upcoming challenge for colleges
                                                                                               will be the efficient coordination of services,
                                                                                               which will require support from and close
                                              comfortable and welcome. For financial aid       partnership with governmental entities.
     other: work or school. I
                                              services specifically, colleges should design    Colleges need to be resourced properly
     always have to debate this.”             processes and procedures such that students      to coordinate and administer multiple
                                              do not need to repeatedly verify their           streams of state and federal money and
     — Rodrigo Velazquez Angel                low-income status.                               coordinate services with counties. Student
        Student, on a 2021 California                                                          eligibility for income-based resources
        Community Colleges System webinar16   Looking ahead, colleges need to keep up          should be automated across programs, and
                                              the good work with Equitable Placement           the processes and technology to make this
                                              and Support while expanding and improving        possible should be developed centrally at
                                              academic supports equitably to help all          the state level. The Chancellor’s Office will
                                              students succeed in their college-level          continue to work with the Governor and the
                                              coursework. Implementing this reform with        Legislature on these issues and to advocate
                                              fidelity will continue to yield better results   for resources to build better infrastructure
                                              in course completion, college completion,        and capacity for coordination of services
                                              transfer, and equity. Authentic student          on campuses.
                                              engagement and input can help colleges
                                              refine academic services and supports for
                                              maximum effectiveness.

20                                                                                     California Community Colleges Vision for Success
Foster the use of data, inquiry, and evidence
This commitment is about establishing a culture that examines student
data on a regular basis and uses it to improve instruction and services,
from the top levels of the college down to interactions with individual
students. This is especially true for data related to students of color and
other underserved groups.

Over the past decade, most colleges have        conversations to engage our board with
come to embrace the use of data for             relevant outcomes data,” says Chancellor
institutional improvement. More recently,       Francisco Rodriguez of the Los Angeles
colleges are investing in data systems and      Community College District, “including
practices that help individual students stay    regular study sessions and board retreats,
on track and provide tools for staff and        with dashboards to help make the data easy
educators to assist them. In the midst of       to access, monitor, and understand our
COVID-19 and the resulting enrollment loss      progress towards closing equity gaps.”
at many colleges, the most pressing use
for data right now is determining which         San Diego Mesa College President Pamela
students have left the college and using the    Luster also emphasizes the importance of
information to get them back. A closely         not just looking at data “for data’s sake,”
related priority is identifying and deploying   but rather to investigate the “whys, what
additional resources to students who are at     ifs, and so whats” of the data. In other
risk of dropping out, or whose grades signal    words, colleges can use data to examine
a problem. Colleges are becoming more and       problems—identifying, for example, points
more sophisticated in how they do this (see     where students are consistently struggling
sidebars on page 22 for two examples).          or dropping out—then make program or
                                                policy changes that will advance, rather
Some colleges have made significant             than block, student success. Analyses of
investments in their data systems and           quantitative data can be supplemented with
research personnel while others have not.       feedback from representative focus groups
Still, it’s not necessary to acquire a new      of students to fill in the picture of what is
data system to fulfill this commitment.         and isn’t working. Students’ participation in
Sometimes it is enough to just use existing     the redesign process is crucial.
data differently: changing who looks at
it, when, and why. Colleges should be           Looking ahead, the state’s emerging Cradle-
identifying students who have missed            to-Career Data System will change the
deadlines, failed to re-enroll, and following   landscape by providing tools and resources
up to help students get back on track.          that contribute to educational planning and
These practices are a win for everyone:         help educators advise students. California’s
they lighten the burden on students and         next challenge is to provide all campus users
help them reach their goals while making        with access to timely data. Luster explains
efficient use of advising resources and         that administrators need on-the-ground
boosting institutional completion rates.        information systems, particularly to manage
                                                their enrollments strategically. “We need
At the leadership level, data, inquiry, and     disaggregated data in real time, not at the
evidence can and should be a normal part        end of three years, because by then the
of college business. At a minimum, the          students are gone,” says Luster. Robust
Board of Trustees, college leadership, and      student management systems are also
department and division leaders should          important for creating equitable course-
regularly review data on course and program     taking opportunities. “Setting the schedule
enrollment and outcomes, loss points, and       is everything,” says Luster. Students would
student satisfaction, all disaggregated by      also benefit from better access to data—their
demographic factors to identify what is         own as well as their school’s—to help them
working or not working, and for whom.           become more informed customers and
“We have structured and facilitated             make better educational choices.

Reaffirming Equity in a Time of Recovery                                                        21
Compton College Is Using Data
                                               to Serve Students Better
                                               Compton College has adopted an enterprise           Compton College is located in one of
                                               resource planning system to maintain                the hardest-hit cities in the state, with
                                               integrated, real-time data on students, and         extremely high COVID-19 case rates and
                                               it has proven to be essential for helping the       disproportionately low access to vaccines.
                                               college reach out to students during the            “Our enrollment is down 20%,” says Curry.
                                               devastation of COVID-19. Compton College            “It’s going to push us back.” He anticipates
                                               has used this system to identify students           that the COVID-19 pandemic will have
                                               who did not return to school during the             an impact on his community and college
                                               pandemic and to craft proactive strategies          for the next five years. Still, he says, the
                                               for getting them back. “We know all the             college will not abandon its commitment
                                               characteristics [of these students], everything,”   to students. Using its robust data system
                                               says President/CEO Keith Curry. “With our           and implementing aggressive outreach
                                               call center, we can be able to follow back          strategies, Compton College is beginning the
                                               up with them and provide them with the              long process of helping students return to
                                               support they need.”                                 college and rebuild their lives and educational
                                                                                                   dreams. “We will continue to do it,” says
                                               Critically, Compton is able to disaggregate         Curry. “We’re not going to stop…We have to
                                               all of its data by students’ Guided Pathways        continue to try to hit those targets.”
                                               Divisions—meaning the academic/career
                                               cohort they belong to—making it easier
                                               to provide more targeted outreach and
                                               connect students to the right staff members.
                                               The system can also disaggregate students
                                               by program eligibility and participation,
                                               making it easier to identify students who
                                               aren’t accessing resources that might help
                                               them, such as CalFresh.
Compton College

Golden West College Is
Boosting Complet
through Better Data Use
Golden West College is using available         award and the benefits that come with it.
transcript data to increase graduation         Meanwhile, the college boosts its graduation
numbers. College personnel regularly           rates and gets a better understanding of
review student progress and auto-award         where students get hung up and why. “Auto-
degrees or certificates when students are      awarding well-earned degrees enhances our
eligible. Using this method, the college       unique place in the education marketplace,”
awarded 5,711 degrees and certificates in      says Golden West College President Tim
2018-19—the most of any college in the state   McGrath. “It shows we really are making a
that year—and held a special graduation        difference in our community and in the lives
ceremony for those students. The result        of our students.”
is a win for everyone: students gain an
                                                                                                   Golden West College

22                                                                                         California Community Colleges Vision for Success
Take ownership of goals and performance
This commitment is about colleges taking responsibility for their
current performance and setting authentic local goals that the campus
                                                                                                   “   The goals themselves
                                                                                                       should be ambitious,
                                                                                                       but it’s the nature of the
community can embrace and coalesce around. Goals and performance                                       conversations about
can and should be part of a college’s institutional culture and identity.                              those goals that is
                                                                                                       most important. Those
In 2017 the Vision for Success established          Now is also the time to bring students             conversations will lead to
broad systemwide goals. Districts followed          authentically into the conversation about
suit by adopting their own aligned goals            goals and performance. This strategy               the “ah-ha” moments.”
that are appropriate to their local context.        benefits everyone: students get a rich
However, goal-setting is not a one-time event.      learning experience and greater sense
                                                                                                       — Eloy Ortiz Oakley
                                                                                                          Chancellor, California
It is the beginning of an investigation into        of agency while colleges ensure that
                                                                                                          Community Colleges
how the college can do better, particularly         discussions of goals and performance are
in serving students who are disadvantaged           about students, not just numbers.
by the structures of traditional higher
education and society at large. “The goals          Looking ahead, the next frontier is for
themselves should be ambitious,” explains           colleges to realign resources—fiscal,
California Community Colleges Chancellor            personnel, facilities—in support of their
Eloy Ortiz Oakley, “but it’s the nature of the      goals. The Student Centered Funding
conversations about those goals that is most        Formula (SCFF) required all districts to
important. Those conversations will lead to         adopt performance goals and ultimately
the “ah-ha” moments.”                               to align district budgets to those goals. As
                                                    San Diego Mesa College President Luster
Now is the time for districts and colleges to       says, “We have to ask ourselves: Where’s
drill down into their goals and performance         our agency? Are we putting our money
with a particular emphasis on diversity and         where our mouth is? Are we spending our
equity. While there are plenty of circumstances     resources to actually close equity gaps?”
beyond the control of the college, there are        These questions should be at the center
also plenty of factors that colleges can control,   of all resource discussions and decisions
particularly around equity of opportunity.          happening now, especially as the system
Despite the setbacks of 2020, many colleges         manages an influx of one-time dollars
are determined to adapt and innovate their          from the state and federal government.
way back, never losing sight of their goal of
helping every student reach their educational
goals. (See sidebar for a leading example.)

Reaffirming Equity in a Time of Recovery                                                                                            23
San Diego
                             Dieg Mesa a Co
                         Drills Down into Equity and
                         Owns Its Performance
                         San Diego Mesa College exemplifies the          disaggregated by student demographics.
                         Vision for Success Commitment 5: “Take          These data are strictly for the faculty
                         ownership of goals and performance.”            member’s use; no one else looks at them.
                         Faced with the COVID-19 pandemic and its        Says Luster, “It wasn’t popular when we
                         impact on enrollment in the spring of 2020,     first did it, but now faculty ask, ‘When are
                         the college’s leadership team wasted no         we going to get our data?’” The practice has
                         time in analyzing which students left. Most     changed how faculty members evaluate
                         importantly, they were unafraid to own their    themselves, says Luster, and has brought
                         findings and ask whether the college itself     a greater equity focus to department
                         played a part in students’ departure. “We       meetings. The college has also developed
                         sat down and started looking at who left us,”   data dashboards at the program level, and
                         Says President Pamela Luster, “[We asked],      each year requires departments to analyze
                         who did we not serve well? They loved us        equity gaps in writing, describe how those
                         once, and they wanted to go to college—         gaps are being addressed, and request
                         what happened? Was it an interaction with       campus support for doing so. These
                         a college staff member? Was it just too hard    program level data are public and cover
                         to navigate?”                                   every department on campus, even
                                                                         operational units such as accounting.
                         The college then took action. “We called
                         every single student,” says Luster, deploying   San Diego Mesa College also looks at its data
                         peer navigators, student ambassadors,           in comparison to other colleges serving
                         tutors, and others to get the job done.         similar populations, always asking “Are we
                         Although this was primarily an effort to get    cutting it? Are we doing what we need to
                         students to return, the college also used       do?” The college’s actions are admirable,
San Diego Mesa College   the opportunity to collect survey data and      but more remarkable is its attitude. Even in
                         now has a full report detailing students’ top   the midst of a global pandemic, the college
                         reasons for leaving. The college used this      owns its performance. “We’re committed to
                         information to design a Black and African       not saying that ‘Life happens to students,’”
                         American student retention program in the       says Luster. “That’s certainly a fair statement
                         fall of 2020 and to inform other recruitment    right now, but that lets us off the hook.”
                         and retention efforts during COVID.

                         San Diego Mesa College is also leading the
                         way in encouraging faculty to own their
                         goals and performance. Each semester
                         the college sends each faculty member
                         a data file with their course outcomes,

24                                                                California Community Colleges Vision for Success
Enable action and thoughtful innovation
This commitment is about being bold in adopting new policies, programs,
                                                                                                  “   In the past we were hesitant
                                                                                                      about the implications
                                                                                                      of using technology and
and processes that will help students reach their end goals. Not every idea
is a good one, but it is important that colleges experiment, track results,
                                                                                                      how it might undermine
make adjustments, and keep moving forward. Innovators should be                                       live instruction. But we’ve
supported when experiments fail, not blamed.                                                          actually found places where
                                                                                                      it helped quite a bit. So let’s
Large, long-standing systems like the            were developed out of necessity to squeeze
California Community Colleges are built to       in as much instruction as possible before an
                                                                                                      not lose that momentum.
be stable and risk-averse. They are not places   expected pandemic surge in November of               This is an opportunity to
that naturally foster action and innovation,     2020. These short courses were particularly          reach more students, to
but in 2020, the COVID-19 crisis necessitated    helpful to working students so the college
both. Seemingly overnight, the California        is thinking of making them permanent,                make it easier to meet
Community Colleges were forced to move           albeit with some adjustments to make the             students where they’re at.
almost entirely to distance learning and         workload more manageable for students
online services, with no playbook to follow.     and faculty.
                                                                                                      Let’s continue to improve
It was an enormous task, but colleges rose to                                                         it and push it forward to
the occasion and proved themselves to be far     Faculty members have also made positive              focus on the end goal. We
more adaptable and innovative than many          changes that can outlast the pandemic. “The
thought possible.                                work that the faculty have done during the           need to hold on to those
                                                 pandemic has been extraordinary,” says               gains that we’ve made.”
As California slowly emerges from the            Dolores Davison, President of the Academic
pandemic and begins to rebuild, now is the       Senate for California Community Colleges.            — Eloy Ortiz Oakley
time to analyze what aspects of the great        “They really rose to the challenge,” she says,          Chancellor, California
shift online actually worked for students        by making changes to teaching methods,                  Community Colleges
and consider making some of those changes        assignments, policies, and deadlines in
permanent. For example, some colleges            order to accommodate students attending
like Cosumnes River College are thinking         class from a distance while maintaining high
of adding hybrid classes as permanent            academic standards. Many faculty members
additions to their catalog in order to be        also learned to use new technologies to
more accessible and flexible for students.       teach and stay in touch with students. Says
In another example, Shasta College is            Davison, “Learning to use new tools and
considering keeping some new 8-week              applications was an essential part of this
Career Technical Education courses that          work and again, faculty embraced the need

Reaffirming Equity in a Time of Recovery                                                                                           25
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