Overview, Goals, and Offered Services
With structured pathways provided through a student services portal and education planning system, governance provided by inclusive and multi-tiered committees from across the system, and integrated professional development for student services professionals, the Education Planning Initiative will fulfill the needs identified below:
- Help Students Make Informed Choices, Clarify Goals and Plan for Success
- Assist Under-Resourced Counseling Services
- Succeed Despite Funding Challenges
- Coordination Within and Between Colleges
- Alignment with Legislation
- Design Effective Management Solutions
There is clearly a need to help students clarify their short and long term goals, build a structured plan to get there, share that plan so there is accountability, and track their progress with appropriate follow up and guidance. To meet this need, the Education Planning Initiative will:
Help Students Make Informed Choices
To be successful, students need access to information in a streamlined and ordered fashion that is presented in the context of their individual needs and where they are in the matriculation and education processes.
Clarify Education Goals and Plan for Success
One in five students entering community college indicate they are “undecided”. Many more change majors multiple times while in community college. How choices are presented to the student is important.
The EPI will provide a structured pathway to minimize complexity and lead students to successful completion of their goals. As goals and plans are documented, they will be available to counseling and other student services professionals, faculty, and the student, so everyone is on the same page: where the student is in regards to their plan, what their next steps are, and how long it will take to reach their goal.
For Colleges and Staff
Technology cannot solve the fundamental issues behind the California Community Colleges counseling shortage. But technology can be a fulcrum to gain leverage to address the symptoms of the shortage of the counselor to student ratio and give counselors the ability to reach more students effectively.
Assist Under-Resourced Counseling
With a ratio of only 1 counselor for every 1800 students, counselors are hard pressed to make a dent in the success rates of students. The sheer numbers of students mean that it is very difficult for counselors to provide personal guidance with many students.
By way of the structured portal system, the EPI will allow students to gain access to information and make headway on preliminary goals and planning before seeing a counselor; thus allowing the brief time they may have together to be spent on modifying and optimizing the education plan with the student. This will also help counselors identify and keep up on the progress of at-risk students, so that success gains can be maximized by applying effort to those few most likely to need help.
Succeed Despite Ongoing Funding Challenges
Historically, the community colleges have been the lowest funded of California’s segments of public education. And within the system there is a disparity in funding between the districts. The recent cuts to categorical programs resulted in close to 50% reduction in funding available to support student services such as counseling, advising, assessment and tutoring.
Because of the disparity in funding between large, small, urban, and rural colleges and perhaps because institution priorities are varied, some colleges have technology such as degree audit / education planning / counseling case management, while others do not.
With this mixed model where some colleges have no tools, and others have tools, a need exists to build systemwide solutions that provide economies of scale and benefit to colleges regardless of current capabilities. Those colleges without tools can better serve their students, while colleges that are currently paying for a solution may wish to adopt the systemwide solution and apply the savings to counseling resources.
By December 31st, 2015, a counseling product will be made available via the education planning system acquisition process. A pricing model will also be in place that lowers the cost of education planning and degree audit technology tools by greater than 50% if colleges adopt a systemwide solution.
Despite the dissimilarity between colleges (sometimes only separated by a few miles), students swirl within the CCC system as though there were cohesive bonds between the colleges. Students may attend several CCC colleges in an effort to reach their education goals, and sometimes even two or three at once.
This “swirling” behavior creates even more needs to coordinate:
- CCC to CCC Course Articulation
- Acknowledgement and visibility of Education Plans from other colleges
- A common transcript format with common California data elements
- Common Assessment
- Coordinated Student Services
- Acknowledgement of recent residency determination
- Integration between statewide systems and local SIS
Lack of Coordination within a College
In many colleges there is little interface between faculty, counseling, and student services in working with students. To ensure success for the student, colleges need to have technology based systems that promote a holistic approach where counseling, faculty, and student services can work together for the benefit of the student.
To meet this need, projects under the EPI Initiative have a diverse steering committee in place representing stakeholders across the system with minimum bi-monthly meetings. See the Project Plan page for more information and please join the EPI-INTEREST listserv today.
For the People of California
Alignment with Legislation for Student Success
Since 2010, the state of California has taken broad steps to ensure legislative support for student success programs that support California’s college students. Laws that specifically call on the California Community Colleges and its Board of Governors to institute electronic planning and electronic transcripts include Senate Bill 1143 (2010), Assembly Bill 1056 (2011), and Senate Bill 1456 (2012).
As indicated by this body of legislation, the government of California has clearly outlined the need for centralized education planning, matriculation, and transcript tools that leverage technology on behalf of more than 2.4 million students at 113 colleges throughout the state. Included is the recognition of the importance of effective professional development for faculty and staff focused on training appropriate, existing personnel in the use of these new tools.
Effective Management of Solutions
To effectively manage the Education Planning Initiative, there are a number of areas of need:
To ensure that stakeholders have ownership, rather than the project team, it is essential that Governance committees with diverse membership be established and well run, with meetings and decisions documented for the sake of transparency.
When appropriate, experts should be consulted so as to not flounder or “reinvent the wheel” when approaching problems.
Collaboration is essential as many of the systemwide grant projects may be working on similar problems and that work may be shared to reduce the burden and expense for all.
Standards, especially in the technology domain, allow systems to interoperate and produce uniform results, which is an essential need of this project.
Tried and true processes, such as a formal Request For Proposal (RFP) or the Agile software development methodology, ensure quality throughout the program and should be used whenever possible.
"You can't manage what you can't measure." is an old axiom, but very true. It is essential that measurable outcomes and metrics be “baked in” throughout the EPI program, its projects, and systems. Metrics are also essential to guiding future improvement of the solutions.
Given that change is constant, it is important to continuously analyze the program and adjust or pivot when necessary to retain value and remain relevant.
In order to be effective in operating within our system, share research and new concepts, and be receptive to feedback, it is necessary to make available and publish all materials and findings associated with the program.
With these needs in mind, the Education Planning Initiative will establish statewide online systems for California Community Colleges (CCC) students as an expansion of the Service Oriented Architecture platform (OpenCCC) for education planning and degree audit services via a single sign-on student portal.
Please review the Education Planning Initiative Work Plans for comprehensive details about the strategic approach to achieving these goals.