California community colleges scorecard aims for higher transparency and accountability

150 150 Cheryl Getuiza

Would UCLA be one of your choices for higher education in California? (photo: Flickr/legge_e_mare)

For those interested in higher education, when it comes time, choosing the right institution is a tough decision.

Do you go the four year route at a University of California or a California State University? Do you choose a private school? If you’re on a shorter timeframe, do you choose a technical vocational school?  How about a California community college? 

Lately, the state’s community colleges have proven to play a pivotal role in the state’s economic recovery by training, and sometimes retraining folks, for jobs available now.

The Golden State boasts 112 community colleges in 72 districts. The California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office is making sure those interested in taking this road make an educated decision with the Scorecard, set to launch the second week of April.

“We’re very pleased with the outlook of the new scorecard system. We hope more students will be both accessing and achieving success in our system, moving forward,” said Patrick Perry, Vice Chancellor, Technology, Research and Information Systems.

The Scorecard, originally called the Accountability Report for Community Colleges, is an updated and more user-friendly version that is web based rather than a nearly 900 page document on a PDF file.

The old version was “not really readily searchable or drillable. One couldn’t drill down into it really,” said Perry.

The Scorecard will continue to have graduation and completion rates as metrics. It will now include the level of the student whether remedial or collegiate as well as rates by various demographics like ethnicities, gender and age group.

Here is how the metrics, of the site, break down: The population looks at new or transfer seeking students at certain momentum points, which are “points along the path of one’s education leading to the outcome.”

“We take the degree of transfer seeking students and we look at them first as to whether they complete their first two terms in the system and come back for a third. We also look at what percentage of transfer population completes 30 units. Then we look at what percentage of all students who attempt any remedial education courses.  Do they fully complete the remedial path? Do they complete the transferable or degree applicable level,” said Perry.

“We also look at high order outcomes.  Really those are outcome rates for the degree or certificate group-we look at what percentage of them, within, six years of starting a certificate or an associate’s degree who transfer to a four year institution.”

The Scorecard has information on the student population in career technical education as well.

“It certainly is a very transparent public accountability for each of the 112 community colleges.  But it’s also a system that is truly designed to help these institutions to use the data to improve the student’s success,” said Perry.

All of this information could certainly be used by faculty at each college as discussion points for new teaching strategies.

“In a system with 112 campuses, it’s awfully difficult to get information that would allow you to compare each campus because it’s basically on 112 different websites,” said David Plank, Executive Director, Policy Analysis for California Education, Stanford University. “So the first gain from this is a gain in transparency that the performance of the college is much more public and I think a consequence of that is increased accountability.”

If a particular community college falls short on delivering a student’s success, that institution will now be able to compare stats with other colleges.  It “holds them accountable and makes them look at what they’re doing or what they’re not doing to improve performance,” said Plank.

The California Community Colleges system’s scorecard will be a great tool for students and their families to be able to compare and contrast each college.

“This tool provides you with at least much of the information to make a good choice about where you want to go and where you’re likely to succeed in attaining your goal,” said Plank.

The Scorecard will be accessible on the Chancellor’s website.  Each campus will also link to the scorecard.


Cheryl Getuiza

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