SUCCESS FACTORS

High School to Community College Transition

Success Factors at the community college level, are the policies, procedures, and principles proven to be most effective in helping all students successfully reach their goals and move on to the next level of education or job. This framework summarizes these success factors applied across the country that have proven success.

Use this framework to analyze whether or not or how effectively success factors are applied in your community college, and use this information for continued improvement in building greater success for all students.

The framework is made up of five themes and three levels within the college. This is meant as a diagnostic tool to help you identify strengths and weaknesses by using a series of rubrics, audit questions, and honest conversation with one another. Did you find a theme or two that clearly identifies where you need to start working for improvement? Now you should have a clear roadmap identifying where you should begin and how your time should be spent to reach your improvement goals.

Organizing ThemeInstitution-LevelAcademic DepartmentClassroom
Curriculum and Expectations

Develop an institution-level collaborative committee on curriculum to integrate system-wide priorities in curriculum. Self-Audit

Inform and train faculty and staff on system-level curricular policies and procedures. Self-Audit

Use a variety of instructional strategies to plan and teach the competencies and skills students need to know to demonstrate academic success. Self-Audit

Curriculum and Expectations

Nuts and Bolts of Key Practices


Support structured pathways.

Align high school exit standards with entry-level college curriculum expectations.

Align necessary learning objectives and skills between developmental education and introductory college level classes.

Establish a shared vision of student success and align curricular resources and materials to support all campuses.

Work collaboratively across all stakeholders on curricular issues.


Consistently communicate the expectations of learning success.

Work collaboratively with system level policies and programs.

Consistently monitor and ensure implementation of curricular programs and policies across courses.

Integrate non-cognitive factors that support academic success.


Align instruction with system curricular programs and policies.

Know which skills/competencies students must master to successfully move on to the next course.


Culture of Achievement

Establish a system-wide mission for student success and provide departments with leadership and resources to support a culture of achievement. Self-Audit

Develop a collaborative community that fosters and believes in success for all students. Self-Audit

Carry out and maintain instructional expectations through a collaborative professional culture. Self-Audit

Culture of Achievement

Nuts and Bolts of Key Practices


Communicate clearly and consistently that academic achievement and mastery of college curriculum is the heart of the mission.

Provide evidence of resources to promote collaborative partnerships with high schools to establish a dual enrollment programs.

Build a process of developing and strengthening by learning from one another the skills, instincts, abilities, and resources that consistent collaborative opportunities provide.

Demonstrate evidence of orientation programs for all students to provide an informed supportive transition from high school or job to college.


Promote collaboration among departments, faculty, and staff.

Encourage leadership opportunities among departments, faculty and staff.

Establish a mentoring program for new faculty and staff.

Frequently promote orientation opportunities for new students and assist them in knowing the benefits.

Demonstrate use of assessment results to improve the classroom and learning environment for students by identifying what they have or have not learned (i.e., how many developmental students make it to and pass college-level math and English courses).


Collaborate in teams by course or department.

Observe other classes, share ideas, and learn from one another to improve instruction.

Develop a clear understanding of the impact your courses have in helping students remain on a successful overall education trajectory.


Human Capital

Hire highly qualified department leaders and build systems for monitoring student performance, teaching practices, and provide continuous support. Self-Audit

Establish a rigorous faculty selection process. Provide strong leadership that recognizes the need for targeted professional development, while empowering faculty and staff to collaborate and own their own professional growth. Self-Audit

Actively pursue and participate in staff development opportunities aligned to system programs and policies while collaborating with colleagues and department leaders to support an environment of continuous improvement. Self-Audit

Human Capital

Nuts and Bolts of Key Practices


Support targeted professional development of faculty and staff who work with and support the success of all college students.

Set up a system that recruits the brightest and best educators with a deep commitment to the systems vision of student success.

Build a mission on a shared sense of responsibility for all students success, a mindset that fosters high degrees of collaboration among leaders and educators.


Hire educators with a strong commitment to the systems culture of achievement. Involve a team of educators in the hiring process.

Evaluate professional development based on the alignment to college and system goals and needs identified to develop the growth mindsets of educators improving instructional practices and impacting student learning.

Cultivate dialogue about teaching and learning. Prioritize opportunities for collaboration across or within departments for improving instruction and promoting student achievement.


Make professional development a priority.

Value collaborative opportunities with fellow educators to improve instructional practices and impact student success.


Data and Assessment

Maintain a data system to monitor department and classroom student performance and provide resources for using data in all departments and classrooms to improve teaching practices at all levels. Establish a policy that identifies which multiple measures will be used to determine fair student placement. Self-Audit

Use multiple measures to monitor instructional practices and student achievement while also setting expectations with faculty and staff to use disaggregated data to monitor group gaps or individual student needs and the impact on instruction. Self-Audit

Monitor student achievement daily and use the results to adjust instruction to better meet individual and collective learning needs. Grow and improve teaching practices with data from student evaluations. Self-Audit

Data and Assessment

Nuts and Bolts of Key Practices


Establish regularly scheduled meetings with campus leaders and departments to examine data.

Use performance data to drive policy development and decision making.

Set up a data system for collecting data that demonstrate improvement within the system, such as student retention, certificate and degree completion, successful transfers to four year colleges or universities.

Set institutional expectations for data usage across all departments and classrooms. Ask yourself what actions need to be taken to improve the data?

Provide department leaders with support in capturing, interpreting, and sharing data in a timely and actionable form.

Demonstrate a well-developed process and structure for all faculty and staff (full- or part-time) to be engaged in learning outcomes assessment.


Establish a policy on meeting with educators and other department staff to examine data.

Use incentive structures such as performance reviews and funding to carry out institution policies and procedures for data usage.

Model the relevancy of multiple measures of data that are actionable and directly inform goals, evaluation, and allocation of resources.

Monitor effectiveness of interventions closely with data.

Train all faculty on how to use learning outcomes assessment results to improve curricula and instruction.


Prioritize the use of data to accurately determine student needs and strengths.

Improve and collaborate with fellow faculty to compare performance data and determine what practices were used to assist students that performed higher.

Respond to student needs quickly and provide or direct to the appropriate support resources needed.

Use learning outcomes assessment data to improve teaching and learning.


Personalized Learning

Provide funding for support resources and guidance for all students to meet their various needs. Self-Audit

Establish and utilize systems to carry out identification of student needs and strengths and provide specific learning and support experiences. Self-Audit

Work collaboratively with colleagues to personalize instructional practices and learning support to successfully meet the needs of all students. Self-Audit

Personalized Learning

Nuts and Bolts of Key Practices


Establish and ensure a campus-wide vision at all levels for meeting the needs of all students.

Reduce the number of students in remedial classes by determining the multiple measures of assessment that will be used for accurate placement of each student in their beginning academic level in math and English.

Set expectation and funding for creating cohorts within colleges to academically and socially engage students.

Set expectations and funding for summer bridge programs for at risk students to facilitate a smoother transition from high school to community college.

Work at all levels to create a seamless transition from remedial/ developmental coursework to gateway courses.

Establish coherent pathways to coursework by aligning with entry – level expectations and guaranteed transferable to four year institutions.

Provide evidence of alternative funding opportunities to provide the support for academic success and retention of students.

Fund as many academic advisors as appropriate. Integrate academic advising into the college by having current faculty assist with all individual students on academic goal setting and planning.


Clearly communicate expectations for student success to all faculty and staff.

Work collaboratively across leadership levels to set up a system that quickly identifies and responds to specific student needs and guides them to the appropriate support resources.

Ensure students are properly placed in their beginning academic level using multiple measures determined at the system level.

Carry out learning communities, summer bridge programs and supplemental instruction in order to support and retain students on campus.

Consistently monitor classroom instruction to ensure alignment to course outcomes and entry-level expectations for the next course.

Tailor course requirements to students' academic goals and eliminate unnecessary prerequisites.

Develop and offer study skill classes for those students who need them.

Proactively monitor student class attendance. Encourage calls from advisors and instructors.

Establish a tutoring program for students having trouble with specific academic skills.

Build integrated support such as skills development and supplemental instruction into coursework.

Set up a required pathway for students to set specific goals and create a plan for achieving them.


Ensure instruction is teaching students what they should know and be able to do according to course competencies.

Recognize the individual needs and strengths of all students. Provide instruction that meets those needs each day in the classroom.

Build relationships and establish a culture of support for all students.

Ensure these students feel welcome. Set reasonable office hours so students have access to faculty.

Report attendance concerns in a timely manner.

Promote intensive student engagement in every lesson taught.

Monitor and close academic skill gaps daily for students.

Discuss students' academic plans with them when appropriate.








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