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DCCCD Moves Forward With ‘Texas Completes’

 

Contact: Ann Hatch
214-378-1819; ahatch@dcccd.edu

For immediate release — Aug. 2, 2012

(DALLAS) — “Finish what you start.” That’s been the motto for the Dallas County Community College District this academic year — words that prompted DCCCD’s seven colleges to take action and involve students in completing their college degree or certificate before they transfer to a four-year university or enter the workforce.

The movement began with a program titled “Completion By Design,” funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for its first year, a planning phase that brought five community college systems together across the state to work on ways to implement ideas and projects. Led by the Lone Star College System, the group also included DCCCD, Alamo Colleges, El Paso Community College and South Texas College. Although Texas will not receive additional funds from the Gates Foundation for the next phase of the project, the group members have decided to move forward and continue their work as “Texas Completes,” with financial support from state and regional sources.

Texas Completes will focus on statewide student success and credential completion at community colleges. The five-member community college/system cadre enrolls 289,000 students, who represent more than one-third of all community college students in Texas and 20 percent of all undergraduates in the state.

“The momentum and coherence across Texas that has resulted from our participation in Completion by Design is profound. Systems are working together like never before — our colleges, universities, the Texas Association of Community Colleges, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, philanthropic groups and legislators — as we rally to support the imperative to make marked improvements in student success,” said Dr. Wright Lassiter Jr., DCCCD’s chancellor. “Our cadre of colleges has the clear opportunity to make a significant impact on higher education in Texas.”

Lassiter added, “Led by Dr. Anna Mays at Cedar Valley College, DCCCD’s team has energized faculty, staff and administrators at all seven colleges. We must continue that good work. From analyzing our data and leading student and faculty focus groups to conducting stakeholder workshops and special events that involved students, we have been committed as a cadre to develop student pathways to completion and increased student success.”

Dr. Raymund Paredes, commissioner of the THECB, said that the Coordinating Board fully supports the Texas Completes effort and the work of its cadre of five community college members as the group moves forward. “We know that for Texas to become a national and international leader in education by 2030 — which is one of our goals — we must accelerate our efforts. Texas Completes creates an important framework to align that strategy, and we are eager to work with the cadre to advance this important agenda,” he said.

Texas Completes members have adopted an action plan and strategies that include three key initiatives:

  • Revise the curriculum to get students into programs of study quickly, streamline the time it takes to earn a degree and facilitate transfers to four-year institutions;
  • Create a comprehensive student advising and management system that gives students a strong start and consistent feedback at each step of their way through college; and
  • Restructure developmental education to reduce the time that students spend in pre-collegiate coursework.

“Texas Completes is embarking on broad-based, systemic changes that will dramatically improve student success and completion,” said Rey Garcia, president and CEO of TACC. “Its work benefits Texas by creating an infrastructure to build consensus among diverse organizations for large-scale student success reform that we will share with other colleges across the state.”

In March 2012, a policy advisory board for Texas Completes met. The group comprises state and education leaders, as well as representatives from business, labor and nonprofit organizations; Dr. Richard Rhodes, president of Austin Community College, serves as chair. They decided to focus on three key policy areas: transfer and articulation, developmental education and performance-based funding. In addition to chairs of the Texas House and Senate Higher Education Committee, those advisory board members also represent the Texas Workforce Commission, THECB, TACC, the Texas Association of Business, the Greater Houston Partnership, the University of Texas, the Houston Endowment and the Greater Texas Foundation.

“This project is critical to the future of Texas,” said Dr. Richard Carpenter, LSCS chancellor and incoming TACC chair. “Our cadre remains intact, and we will move forward as Texas Completes continues to frame the statewide completion agenda and to lead efforts that will significantly improve Texas post-secondary student success.”

In Texas, community college enrollment has grown in large numbers — 20 percent for DCCCD over the past five years, for example — as the recession forced many Texans to return to school for additional training and education that either helped them enhance their job skills or pursue entirely new careers. Literally thousands turned to the state’s community colleges because they could take courses at a cost they could afford. Community colleges also are evolving as they serve today’s nontraditional students who often are older, have children and work full or part time to support their families while they attend college to earn a degree or certificate.

Increasing college success and completion rates is important for students, the economy and the country. A recent report by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce stated that, by 2018, 63 percent of all jobs will require at least some post-secondary education, and the labor market will see a shortage of approximately 3 million educated workers over the next eight years.

For more information, contact Dr. Anna Mays, vice president of student services and enrollment management at Cedar Valley College and DCCCD’s Texas Completes team leader, by phone at (972) 860-2931 or by email at amays@dcccd.edu.

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