— San Mateo County Community College District Initiative

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Career Ladders Project (CLP) works closely with the San Mateo County Community College District (SMCCCD) and the three SMCCCD colleges, Cañada College, College of San Mateo, and Skyline College, to support the District’s strategic goals to improve student experience and college completion. SMCCCD colleges are focused on three major strategies and reforms:  1) more accurately placing students in English and math with the use of multiple measures, 2) improving early college experience by increasing early credit offerings and 3) offering courses and programs in a more structured and coherent manner.

Improving Academic Placement

A preponderance of evidence suggests that colleges are under-placing students into developmental English and math courses costing students unnecessary time, money and discouragement. In partnership with the RP Group, CLP supports the three SMCCCD colleges to improve student academic placement and establish district-wide cut scores for new common assessment exams for ESL, math, and English. CLP and RP have convened faculty to discuss evidence based placement utilizing high school GPA and grades, discuss curricular alignment across the district and map competencies to prepare for the implementation of the CAI. CLP and RP have also worked with administrators, IT, assessment center staff and other key stakeholders to design a plan that can scale the implementation of multiple measures and  will evaluate the effectiveness of student placement for faculty review.

Support Colleges to Refine and Expand Early College Credit

Exposing students to college early increases students’ likelihood to go to college and succeed in college. Taking college courses while in high school is one of the most effective ways to build student college-going confidence and ease transition to college. CLP works with all three SMCCCD colleges to help strengthen early college credit programs by supporting the development of agreements, structures, processes and offerings.

Support Colleges to Learn About, Identify, and Develop Guided Pathway Programs

CLP will work closely with the District and the individual colleges to design, implement, and facilitate a learning process about guided pathways practices and support the implementation of reforms that are aligned with each college’s interests given the results of college learning and design processes. CLP sees its role as guiding each of the SMCCCD colleges through its own unique pathways development process and giving them the tools and information they need to make informed decisions along the way. The end goal is to assist SMCCCD in developing effective—and sustainable—guided pathways models for its colleges.

Skyline College has launched a “Skyline Promise” and is engaged across the college in a process of inquiry and discovery to improve student experience and success.

Notable features include:

  • Researching a financial structure and financial incentives for implementing pathway programs
  • Conducting site visits to pathway programs at similar community colleges nationwide
  • Educating key stakeholders about pathway benefits, strategies, and successful models
  • Identifying and connecting pathway design teams
  • Integrating counselors into the development of potential guided pathways
  • Developing a detailed model outlining pathway structures and services, pedagogy, embedded and additional student support services, data collection and analysis, and marketing/outreach