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Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Guest opinion: Community colleges figuring out how to move students further and faster

Photo: Jan Yoshiwara
Two-year colleges across Washington are using a variety of approaches to help students earn a degree or credential more quickly, writes Jan Yoshiwara, the deputy executive director for the education division at the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges


Community and technical college students don’t have time or money to waste. They want to graduate as soon as possible and land a good job or transfer to a university. We serve students of all ages; the average age is 26.  They work, raise children, and often take multiple courses from multiple institutions. Nearly half of our students receive financial aid in eligible courses, making it all the more important to realize every dollar’s worth of education.

Successful colleges are innovative and meet these students when and where they are in their lives. For community and technical colleges, this means capitalizing on the things that work and creating new opportunities where gaps exist.

For example, colleges and high schools have a long history of offering dual-credit programs such as Running Start, where high-school students earn high school and college credits simultaneously. Last year, 20,100 high school students earned dual credits through the program. Today, we’re also breaking new ground in the area of remediation. Colleges are working with 80 school districts to make sure high school courses connect to college requirements and to diagnose, early on, whether a student is on track to take college-level classes.

For college students who need remediation, we are using innovative strategies to catapult them into college-level classes.  This means collapsing the number of required pre-college courses, allowing students to move ahead based on knowledge rather than time in class, and teaching academics and job skills concurrently so students save time and learn in real-world settings. Much of the emphasis is on math, the major stumbling block to college achievement.

Source: The Seattle Times

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