Jossey Bass – A Wiley Brand, Publishes New Directions for Community Colleges, Edited by Brad C. Phillips and Jordan E. Horowitz

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New Directions for Community Colleges: Completion Agenda, edited by Brad Phillips, Ph.D., President and CEO of the Institute for Evidence-Based Change

Wiley, a global content provider in areas of scholarly research, professional development, and education has released New Directions for Community Colleges: The Completion Agenda, edited by Brad Phillips, Ph.D., President and CEO of the Institute for Evidence-Based Change (IEBC) and Jordan Horowitz, M.A., IEBC's Vice President, Foundation Relations and Project Development. The publication presents practical strategies and solutions drawn from the field of education to advance the College Completion Agenda, which is to increase the proportion of Americans with high quality college degrees and credentials. Each of these strategies and solutions addresses a key aspect of colleges that can be the focus of efforts to support this agenda, including the thinking behind them, research supporting them, roles to be fulfilled, and impact on the student experience.

“Study after study,” said Dr. Phillips, “has shown that postsecondary education is associated with higher earnings. Unfortunately, the United States fares poorly among other industrialized nations in postsecondary attainment.”

Phillips, who along with Horowitz, co-authored the chapter Maximizing Data Use: A Focus on the Completion Agenda, noted that the United States ranked 12th for citizens aged 25 – 34; and only 29.4% of our African American population and 19.2% of our Hispanic population aged 24 -35 had an associate degree or higher. In response to these concerns, the Obama administration, early in its tenure, set forth a goal for America to have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world as part of efforts to revive the national economy. This was followed by $20 million in grants available to address the issue under the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE).

With the lead of the federal government, a national College Completion Agenda developed. The Lumina Foundation weighed in and established its Big Goal to “increase the percentage of Americans with high quality (two- or four-year college) degrees and credentials from 39% of the population to 60% by the year 2025, an increase of 23 million graduates above current rates.

“In response to this,” said Dr. Phillips, “postsecondary associations, funders, and institutions have joined forces in many ways to define the issue and identify solutions.” These national completion initiatives include, among others, the following: The College Completion Agenda sponsored by the College Board; Access to Success sponsored by the National Association of System Heads and Education Trust; Complete College America sponsored by a consortium of funders including the Carnegie Corporation, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Lumina Foundation, W. K. Kellogg Foundation, and Ford Foundation; and Achieving the Dream. “These national initiatives,” Dr. Phillips added, “have done a good job of defining the problem, raising awareness, proposing solutions, and supporting efforts to increase completion. We have learned a great deal, and this volume describes ways to move forward.”

Dr. Walter G. Bumphus, President and CEO, American Association of Community Colleges, emphasized in a foreword to the volume that the work of the New Directions authors and publishers reflects that spirit of reform.

“Through thoughtful and informed analysis of and potential solutions to such problems as the failure of developmental education as currently delivered,” he writes, “disappointing student completion rates, misalignment of curricula and resultant competency gaps, the authors further advance understanding among community college practitioners and stakeholders. They also illuminate promising methodologies such as “Tuning,” used to positive effect among European Union countries to harmonize degrees across disparate organizations by creating clear pathways and agreed-upon learning outcomes at every degree level.”

Bumphus added, “What has been studied and is now shared by these authors has relevance across the campus leadership spectrum—administration, faculty and support professionals. We all acknowledge that there is the very hard work ahead: There is no ‘silver bullet’ to help meet urgent educational challenges. But while there is no silver bullet, there is, I am confident, a “silver lining” as we move forward. That optimism is inspired by the unquestioned commitment on the part of community college leaders imbued with a growing body of knowledge such as that found in New Directions.”

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