In an era of intense focus on how to scale student success reforms and innovations at public colleges, Jobs for the Future (JFF) Student Success Centers sit in a key place of leverage. NYS is one of 16 states (CT, NJ, VA, NC, FL, OH, MI, WI, AK, TX, AZ, CA, OR, WA, and HI) with a dedicated Student Success Center.
Community colleges working to improve completion rates can end up with a sea of initiatives, programs, and reforms that affect every aspect of their operations. But often these efforts are disjointed, and they are typically available to only some students.
While small-scale efforts and individual initiatives may help small numbers of students, they are not enough to move the needle on completion. Truly improving outcomes requires large-scale, institution-wide change.
That is why JFF is helping states around the nation launch state-level organizations, known as Student Success Centers. With the support of JFF, these Centers are delivering expert guidance to community colleges on how to implement large-scale student success reforms—namely, guided pathways.
This work is essential for all colleges that want to serve all students well. It also is complex and difficult.
What do Centers do?
A Student Success Center connects the dots between colleges across the state so they can collectively meet their state’s completion goals. The Center creates a coherent, statewide framework for action, or a lens through which community colleges in the state evaluate, align, and integrate their work in various student success initiatives.
Through the Center’s work, colleges across the state can learn from—and build on—outstanding work at their neighboring and peer institutions. They have access to shared resources, opportunities to learn from one another, and support to scale effective practices statewide.
Student Success Centers help colleges plan strategically and implement effectively. To support colleges and their students, Centers:
- Provide coherence
- Create a statewide framework of action, or a lens through which colleges focus their work and integrate their student success efforts.
- Unify efforts across the state so colleges can collectively meet their state?s completion goals.
- Provide strategic guidance to the state?s colleges.
- Identify effective policies and practices and then provide support (technical assistance, professional development) to help scale them statewide.
- Build partnerships with K?12 and four-year institutions.
- Create time and space for faculty and staff to connect and to discuss strategy and implementation.
- Identify problems common to multiple colleges and help colleges work together to address them.
- Develop economies of scale in training, professional development, and technical assistance.
- Encourage engagement at every level of the college (administration, faculty, and staff), particularly with regard to overcoming barriers to change.
Connect policy and practice
- Represent the collective voice of practitioners in state-level policy discussions.
- Identify and pursue state and system policy changes that support the institutional changes necessary to increase student completion.
Improve data capacity
- Improve data sharing among community colleges and with K-12 and four-year institutions.
- Establish common data metrics throughout the state.
- Support deeper use of education and labor market data by practitioners and policymakers.
Promote research and knowledge development
- Support research projects with colleges (and often with university partners) to evaluate the impact of interventions and identify obstacles to student success.
- Give colleges strategic guidance that builds on lessons learned in the field, including innovative and effective policies and practices.
- Provide access to additional resources through the Student Success Center Network.