California Community Colleges Meet Key Goal of 20 Percent Increase in the Number of Students who Earn Certificates or Degrees

May 19, 2020

Christina Jimenez

cjimenez@@cccco.edu

T 916.322.4004

Sacramento, Calif. – California community colleges over the past two years have increased the number of students who earn college credentials by 20 percent, meeting one of six goals articulated in the college system’s Vision for Success ahead of schedule, and colleges are making progress toward meeting the other goals.

“This is no small feat, and I am proud of our colleges,” said Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley during his State of the System report to the Board of Governors this week. “Our work is to sustain this trend in completion of certificates and degrees while closing achievement gaps that remain for many students of color.”

In 2018-19, the number of students who earned a college credential at community colleges stood at 140,335, up from the 2016-17 baseline year of just under 117,000. The figures are based on the number of students earning awards, with students counted only once for their highest level of achievement.

“Though the Vision for Success reforms have been implemented for little more than a year at most colleges, significant progress has been made,” said Board President Tom Epstein. “As newly enrolled students experience the full effect of these changes, we expect even stronger results in the future.” 

The number of students transferring to the University of California and California State University has shown slow but steady progress, rising to 87,170 during the 2018-19 academic year, a nearly 6 percent increase from two years earlier. Meanwhile the number of students earning Associate Degrees for Transfer increased by more than 40 percent, an improvement that Oakley said reflected the hard work of faculty.

California community colleges are making progress in narrowing achievement gaps among all groups of historically under represented students, but gains still need to be made if the 115-college system is going to meet the five-year goals in 2021-2022. Oakley noted that gaps between Latinx and white students in completion of transfer-level English and in attainment of Associate Degrees for Transfer have closed measurably. Regional equity gaps as measured in seven California geographic areas are also slowly closing.

The college system also logged slight progress in meeting goals associated with graduates who successfully find work in their field of study and reducing the number of excess units accumulated in attaining an associate degree.

The data for the State of the System report was collected before the COVID-19 crisis, and Oakley said that despite deteriorating economic and budget conditions the college system will continue to focus on ensuring that students from all backgrounds have the right opportunities and supports to succeed.

Two crucial elements of this year’s gains can be attributed to system-wide adoption of the Guided Pathways framework, as well as AB 705, legislation ended flawed standardized testing that inaccurately placed many students in remedial rather than transfer-level coursework. 

 

The California Community Colleges is the largest system of higher education in the nation, composed of 73 districts and 115 colleges with 114 campuses serving 2.1 million students per year. California community colleges provide career education and workforce training; guaranteed transfer to four-year universities; degree and certificate pathways; and basic skills education in English and math. As the state’s engine for social and economic mobility, the California Community Colleges supports the Vision for Success, a strategic plan designed to improve student success outcomes, increase transfer rates and eliminate achievement gaps. For more information, please visit the California Community Colleges website or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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