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Assessing Community College Programs at State Prisons


Back to Basics: Improving College Readiness of Community College Students

June 16, 2008 - Most students who enter California Community Colleges (CCC) lack sufficient reading, writing, and mathematics skills to undertake college–level work. Thus, one of the CCC system’s core missions is to provide precollegiate “basic skills” instruction to these students. In this report, we find that a large percentage of students do not overcome their basic skills deficiencies during their time at CCC. We identify a number of state policies that we believe stand in the way of student success, and recommend several structural and systemwide changes designed to help increase preparedness and achievement among community college students.


[PDF] The 2016-17 Budget: Higher Education Analysis

February 26, 2016 - In this report, we provide background on three key areas of higher education in California: enrollment, tuition and financial aid, and institutional performance. We then analyze specific budget proposals for the University of California, California State University, California Community Colleges, Hastings College of the Law, and California Student Aid Commission, making corresponding recommendations for the Legislature's consideration.


The Master Plan at 50: Using Distance Education to Increase College Access and Efficiency

October 25, 2010 - While distance education is not—and is not intended to be—suitable for everyone (students as well as faculty), we find that it offers an important alternative means of providing instruction that can complement existing formats and expand options for the state’s students and segments. In order to take fuller advantage of this potential, we believe that the Legislature should guide a clearer statewide vision that specifies data which the segments should collect and report on distance–education students, and which clarifies expectations concerning intercampus collaborations and other partnerships. To that end, we make a number of recommendations.

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[PDF] The 2013-14 Budget: Analysis of the Higher Education Budget

February 12, 2013 - In the 2013-14 Governor's Budget Summary, the Governor expresses major concerns about higher education in California. Most notably, the Governor is concerned about escalating higher education costs, funding models that promote neither efficiency nor effectiveness, and generally poor student outcomes. To address these issues, the Governor lays out a multiyear budget plan. The main component of the plan is large annual unallocated base increases for all three higher education segments. The Governor loosely links these base increases with an expectation the segments improve their performance. Although we believe the Governor’s budget plan has drawn attention to some notable problems, we have serious concerns with several of his specific budget proposals. By providing the segments with large unallocated increases only vaguely connected to undefined performance expectations, the Governor cedes substantial state responsibilities to the segments and takes key higher education decisions out of the Legislature’s control. We recommend the Legislature take a different approach and allocate any new funding first for the state’s highest existing education priorities, including debt service, pension costs, and paying down community college deferrals. If more funding is provided, then we recommend the Legislature link the additional funding with explicit enrollment and performance expectations.


The 2021-22 Budget: California Community Colleges

February 16, 2021 - This report analyzes the Governor’s major budget proposals for the community colleges, covering base apportionments, enrollment, students’ basic needs, online tools, apprenticeships and work-based learning, instructional materials, and faculty professional development.


California Community Colleges: A Progress Report on the Student Success Act of 2012

July 1, 2014 - The Legislature passed the Student Success Act of 2012 in an effort to improve student outcomes at the California Community Colleges (CCC). Since enactment, community colleges have made a number of changes designed to enhance support services for students. Though development and implementation of these changes still are in their early stages, overall we believe CCC is making changes consistent with the act and is on the right track. While the system is well underway in implementing the various provisions of the act, we believe the system has additional work to do in addressing other complementary priorities, particularly in the areas of course alignment, basic skills, and professional development.


[PDF] Restructuring California's Adult Education System

December 5, 2012 - A century and a half after the founding of adult education in the state, we find that the system faces a number of major problems and challenges, including: (1) an overly broad mission; (2) lack of clear delineations between adult education and collegiate coursework at community colleges; (3) inconsistent and conflicting state-level policies; (4) widespread lack of coordination among providers; and (5) limited student data, which impairs the public's ability to hold the system accountable for performance. Given adult education's numerous and significant challenges, we believe the system is in need of comprehensive restructuring. This report lays out a vision and roadmap for a more efficient and effective system. Our package of recommendations includes: (1) a state-subsidized system focused on adult education's core mission; (2) common, statewide definitions that clearly differentiate between adult education and collegiate education; (3) a common set of policies for faculty and students at adult schools and community colleges; (4) a dedicated stream of funding that creates incentives for cooperation among providers, with new adult education funds allocated based on regional needs; and (5) an integrated data system that tracks student outcomes and helps the public hold providers accountable for results.


[PDF] The 2015-16 Budget: Higher Education Analysis

February 27, 2015 - In this report, we provide an overview of the Governor’s higher education budget. We then review the segments' performance in certain key areas and assess the degree to which the segments require enrollment growth funding, base funding increases, and facilities funding. We find the segments have improved performance in some areas but additional improvement is needed. We find little to warrant additional enrollment growth at UC and CSU, and available data indicate CCC likely will not use all the growth funding provided in 2014-15. We recommend against unallocated budget increases, instead recommending that the Legislature link base increases to a cost-of-living adjustment and any additional increases to specified state priorities. We review several facility proposals and make various related recommendations, including recommending the Legislature establish state facility priorities and require the segments to submit a report describing how they plan to eliminate their maintenance backlogs.


[PDF] Implementation Update: Reforming Transfer From CCC to CSU

February 2, 2015 - This report updates our 2012 progress report on transfer reform. We found that since 2012, both CCC and CSU have made substantial progress in meeting the legislation’s goals. Although some community colleges and CSU campuses are lagging in meeting specific statutory targets, both segments are making a good faith effort to comply with the legislation. Moving forward, we recommend the Legislature set specific reporting and data requirements to ensure the segments stay on track toward achieving the goals of transfer reform.


[PDF] Improving High School: A Strategic Approach

May 9, 2005 -
This paper summarizes our recent report on the success and shortcomings of high schools in California. High school represents a critical phase in the educational development of K-12 students. Our report examines high schools through the lens of three groups of high school students.

Our Findings
Dropouts (Students Who Fail to Graduate). About 30 percent of the entering ninth grade class fails to graduate on time. Research and data suggest that the factors leading to student dropouts are in place by the time students enter ninth grade. Despite decades of trying, research has not identified programs or services that consistently reduce dropout rates.
The "General" Track (Students Who Graduate Without Qualifying for a Four-Year University). This includes about 45 percent of entering ninth grade students. About one-half of this group attends college after graduation and the other one-half enters the labor force. Research and data indicate that many in this group do not have clear postgraduation goals, which prevents these students from using high school most effectively to make a smoother transition to adult life.
The "University" Track (Students Who Graduate and Qualify for Admission to the State’s Public Four-Year Universities). These students account for about one-quarter of entering ninth grade students. Entering college freshmen frequently lack the English or mathematics skills required for study at the university level. Higher education admissions and placement policies contribute to the problem, as they fail to clearly communicate the skill levels needed for success in college.
Our Recommendations
Despite considerable differences in the problems facing these groups, several themes emerge in our recommendations that are consistent across the groups. Our recommendations address the problems experienced by high school students by strengthening accountability, improving information, and increasing flexibility.
We recommend the Legislature "fine tune" accountability programs by:
  • Adjusting existing accountability programs to focus more attention on the needs of students who are likely to drop out of school.
  • Establishing accountability for improving student transitions to college and work.
  • Aligning K-12 and higher education standards by using Standardized Testing and Reporting scores as admissions data for the University of California and the California State University.
We also suggest several ways the Legislature could employ information to help make high schools more responsive to student needs by:
  • Obtaining accurate dropout data by school and district within two years.
  • Evaluating state supplemental instruction and social promotion programs for elementary and middle school students.
  • Providing additional information and choices to help parents and students use high school to reach student goals for work and school.
Flexibility also is a theme of our report. Improvements could be made by:
  • Encouraging schools to provide a greater range of curricular options that respond to the needs and interests of students.
  • Giving districts greater latitude to use existing state and federal resources effectively to meet the needs of students.
The Bottom Line
While many critical factors are outside of the state’s control, we think our recommendations provide a strategic approach for how the state can contribute to improving high schools.


Improving State Nursing Programs: Ensuring an Adequate Health Workforce

May 29, 2007 - In recent years, the number of registered nurses in the state has not kept up with demand. While the mismatch in coming years may not be as large as forecasted, the state needs to continue its efforts to increase the number of nurses to meet projected need. Increasing the supply of nurses relies in large part on the state’s higher education system, which trains the majority of registered nurses in California. In this report, we recommend ways the Legislature can increase enrollment in state nursing programs as well as reduce attrition rates, particularly in the community colleges. Taken together, these measures would increase significantly the supply of registered nurses, and address concerns about the adequacy of the size of the nursing workforce.