28 | COMMUNITY COLLEGE JOURNAL AACC.NCHE.EDU
WWCC staff was wary of eliminating the courses they enjoyed
teaching, but quickly recognized the benefits of trimming the
fat from the curriculum, Barney notes.
"We took several programs and whittled them down," he says.
"Biology now has three programs instead of five or six. Striking
that compromise was significant to the buy-in for Pathways. It
was difficult with lots of emotions involved, but those emotions
stemmed from wanting what's best for our students."
MEETING STUDENTS WHERE THEY ARE
Skagit Valley College (SVC), a two-year school serving Skagit,
Island and San Juan counties in northwest Washington state,
has fully embedded Pathways into its culture since procuring
the program grant.
"A college must meet students where they are to provide
them the tools to succeed," SVC President Thomas Keegan says.
"The Pathways program is part of who we are now."
That's not to say the changeover was easy. Starting in 2012, SVC
spent 10 months analyzing its mission, values and core themes
to establish how a Pathways model would fit. The college shared
plan details with its six campuses and presented enrollment data
during monthly board meetings hosted by Keegan. Progression
toward college-level English and math was of particular importance as SVC's version of the program came into shape.
Before installing the initiative, SVC looked at how students
progressed through degrees, with a goal of finding achievement
gaps among Latinos, women and other under-served populations.
Teaching personnel are classifying meta-majors and mapping out
degree paths, while simultaneously re-organizing instructional
infrastructure with help from student services.
"The most important thing was everyone having access, the
opportunity to ask questions and even shape measures as they
were adjusted over time," Keegan says. "All Pathways practices
had to be grounded in our institutional culture."
Open-forum board meetings and quarterly faculty get-togethers
further bolster staff commitment to change, notes Keegan.
SVC leaders even received input from students on the college's
"There's been anxiety over the speed at which we're moving,
and some faculty don't want to lose the ability to teach a
breadth of courses," Keegan says. "But the faculty themselves
are able to influence what the course schedule is going to look
like. They're constantly going to be seeking perfection in terms
of student achievement."
A FULL PERSPECTIVE
Community colleges across the nation are facing daunting
challenges when it comes to completion. According to a 2014
report from the National Student Clearinghouse Research
Center, less than four in 10 community college learners have
earned a degree six years after enrolling; at urban colleges, the
rate is lower.
Zane State College (ZSC) in Zanesville, Ohio, wants to
increase its completion rate by 4 percent over the next calendar
Angela Hendershot (center), adjunct faculty at Zane State College, with students. Hendershot and other ZSC faculty are helping to implement Pathways.