By Larry Gordon

California’s community colleges are making some gains toward ambitious goals of getting more students to complete degrees and transfer to universities but the small improvements last year were “disappointing” and show that much work remains ahead, the system’s leader said Monday.

“While there is some progress, it is not acceptable progress,” system chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley told EdSource. The statistics were included in his “state of the system” presentation Monday to the California Community Colleges Board of Governors.

The report shows minimal improvements: a less than one percent increase last year in the number of students who earned degrees or credentials and a three percent rise in students who transferred to University of California or California State University campuses.

Oakley acknowledged that it is “not going to be easy” to reach the targets he and the board previously established for 2021-22, known as Vision for Success.

Still, Oakley said that academic reforms adopted in the past two years will hasten improvement and allow the colleges to hit the targets for their 2.1 million students by 2022.

Among those changes are more counseling and programs of courses designed for students to graduate faster and complete requirements needed to transfer to four-year universities. The community colleges also are changing how students are placed in introductory math and English courses, allowing many to avoid the remedial classes that slow them down.

The Board of Governors adopted a plan in July 2017 that set goals to push the 114 community colleges for better performance. Those targets include a 20 percent increase in the number of community college students who acquire associate’s degrees, credentials or occupational certificates and a 35 percent rise in the number of community college students who transfer annually to a University of California or California State University campus.

However, very small gains were registered last year in the overall credentials and degrees awarded within three years of a student starting college. The number of students who finished increased less than one percent, up just 188 to 126,689 in 2017-18, according to the report. To reach the 20 percent increase… (continue reading)