By 2018, 63 percent of jobs will require a post-secondary degree. Research shows that, if we don't do something about our higher education system's ability to provide students with the skills they need, the American workforce will fall short of filling some 3 million jobs. The problem is especially acute in the community college system-- one of the few feasible pathways to the American Dream for millions of Americans.
As a founding partner of Achieving the Dream, Public Agenda has provided research and engagement assistance as this national nonprofit leads the nation's most comprehensive, non-governmental reform network for community college student success in higher education history.
On Monday, two of our own Senior Public Engagement staff, Jyoti Gupta and Isaac Rowlett, addressed the challenge of scaling community college innovations in student success at the initiative's annual Kickoff Institute. The event, held in Portland, OR, welcomed 25 new community colleges to Achieving the Dream's National Reform Network.
Scaling is an important and often talked about topic in higher education reform. If a strategy to improve student completion and articulation works at one institution, that's great, but how can we design our efforts so that strategy works across the system and helps all students? As Suzanne Walsh of the Gates Foundation says, "Scale doesn't just happen. We need the right set of tools and the right environment and recognize the important role for technology, data, and policy in our scaling strategy."
Drawing on concepts from Public Agenda's Cutting Edge Series: Scaling Community College Interventions (the second report in a series of three), Isaac and Jyoti outlined core principles and promising practices for expanding student success strategies in order to reach more students. Those principles include designing pilots with scale in mind, establishing systems to determine the right timing and conditions for scaling, and engaging stakeholders early and often.
"We had an opportunity to hear how team leaders are thinking about scale from the very beginning, or at least in the early stages of their student success work with Achieving the Dream, and then provide tools to set them up for greater success in the long run," said Jyoti.
One of the tougher questions directed at Isaac was how to get different stakeholders across the college more involved with scaling efforts. He suggests, "Reach out to them in person and with a direct invitation to participate."
Read the report, Scaling Community College Interventions here.