To kick off the fall 2012 semester, Citrus College rebranded itself as a “College of Completion.” But newly released data from the California Community College Chancellor’s Office suggest that might not be the case.
On April 9, the CCCCO unveiled its Student Success Scorecard at scorecard.cccco.edu, which provides the public with an inside look at cumulative education data for each of the state’s 112 community college campuses through the 2011-12 academic year.
Citrus College’s numbers for Persistence and 30 Units either closely match or exceed the state benchmark. Yet the school trails the state average for completion by nearly 5 percent, as fewer than 45 percent of Citrus College students met the guidelines set forth by the CCCCO.
“There may be many explanations which include completion of educational goals prior to reaching a level measured as completion (obtaining job skills etc), availability of classes, a changing economy, and personal factors affecting individual students,” wrote Academic Senate president Jim Wollum via email in regards to the statistical anomaly.
“It would be interesting to survey cohort students reflected in the data to determine what specific factors they feel applied to their educational progress.”
“With President Obama’s call to have 5 million more associate degree holders by 2020, the scorecard will help us see what is working in California and what needs improvement,” said Manuel Baca, president of the California Community Colleges Board of Governors.
The data tracks students’ college careers over six years and splits them into five separate categories:
• Persistence – percentage of degree and/or transfer seeking students who enrolled in three consecutive terms
• 30 Units – percentage of degree and/or transfer-seeking students who achieved at least 30 units
• Completion – percentage of degree and/or transfer-seeking students who completed a degree, certificate, or transfer-related outcomes.
• Remedial – percentage of credit students who started below transfer level in English, mathematics and/or ESL and completed a college-level course in the same discipline
• Career Technical Education – percentage of students who completed a degree, certificate, or transferred in a vocational discipline.
“The scorecard is a new accountability tool that measures student performance in a clear and concise way,” said CCC Chancellor Brice Harris. “The purpose of the scorecard is to help more students achieve their educational goals. This new tool . . . makes the nation’s largest system of higher education also the most accountable.”
In the Persistence, 30 Units and Completion categories, percentages are compiled for students who are prepared and unprepared for college based on the level of their English and math courses.
“The biggest challenges Citrus College faces are endemic to our entire California Community College system,” wrote college superintendent/president Geraldine M. Perri in an email. “While the California community college system provides public higher education to the largest amount of students in the state (over 2.4 million), it is the lowest funded public education system in California [per student].”
Perri did not address whether or not the College of Completion was an accurate moniker given the statistics. She pointed out various programs that the school offers to students and faculty to improve performance, such as faculty inquiry groups that research Citrus learning practices and Phi Theta Kappa honor society peer mentoring.
However, one Citrus student believes the low figures are partially due to low class availability.
“It’s harder to get classes,” said Brent Watkins, a 23-year-old sophomore and former starting center for the Owls’ basketball team. He has attended Citrus since 2007, and is on track to graduate this year.
“Before I played basketball, I had secondary priority. I was here for four years already so, I was registering after the vets and athletes so it was easier for me to get classes, but all the new people [with] no priority [can’t get] their classes. Sad times,” said Watkins.
After being informed that new registration policies will favor incoming freshman over students with 100 units or more in 2014, Watkins said that the newly revised priority registration plan shows promise, but is not a cure-all.
“It’ll affect the people who are coming here and knowing what they want to do already,” Watkins said. “Those who don’t know what they want to do are going to be in the same boat.”