A consensus is emerging among the leadership of various philanthropic foundations on the principal strategies that seem to work in improving student success. For a glimpse of the next phase, please have a look at this article in Community College Daily, by Matthew Dembicki.
In reading the piece there are no big surprises on the strategies that have met with favor: guided pathways, enhanced advisement, improved digital support, and more focused developmental education, for instance. The organizations behind the so-called reform movement are ones with which your are likely familiar: Gates, Lumina, and Kresge. These foundations are reportedly moving toward scaling up experimental pilot programs that have proved successful, at least initially. The next phase will be data-driven with established preliminary results.
The article is short on specifics, but statements by foundation leaders are worthy of our attention. There is a lot of money at stake, for one thing. And these efforts are not without consequences for practitioners.
The piece does mention that reforms can be controversial with faculty members. We know this in Texas, where several colleges have experienced acrimony over the paring down of the core curriculum, and reducing the number of options for students in choosing a major. Those who teach developmental courses have been challenged in a host of ways during the current wave of change.
Here is an interesting bit from the article, with emphasis added:
He [Patrick Methvin, deputy director of postsecondary success at the Gates Foundation] emphasized using a combination of solutions to scale reforms, however, that requires strong leadership from college presidents and boards. And it isn't easy work. Two-thirds of the presidents at colleges implementing efforts to close success gaps have received a vote of no confidence.
To help those leaders persist, reform efforts must do a better job of linking colleges to help them expand their programs, improve explaining the goals and recruit faculty members, who are critical to success. That includes tapping organizations such as AACC [the American Association of Community Colelges] in those scaling efforts.
Faculty involvement is key to any successful change. This ought to be obvious. Faculty members must also rise to the challenge by volunteering to serve on advisory panels whenever possible. The professional and pedagogical stakes are high.