The goal of the National Community College Working Groups is to provide a forum for discussion of critical issues that relate to the role of community colleges in technical and academic preparation. Meetings are held several times a year and community college presidents are invited to attend by OVAE's Assistant Secretary based on the topics being explored.
Spring 2006 Meeting
In May 2006, OVAE convened a community college working group meeting focusing on the American Competitiveness Initiative (ACI). Proposed by President George W. Bush in his January 2006 State of the Union Address, the ACI is designed to build upon our nation's success in mathematics, science, and technology. Because a basic tenet of the initiative is to strengthen our ability to develop a highly skilled workforce and prepare students for the competitive global economy of the 21st century, community colleges will have a key role to play in its success. The working group participants included community college presidents and other campus leaders, leaders in K-12 education, and business representatives. The first panel explored how business and industry alliances can enhance academic goals and workforce readiness. Panelists included representatives from three community colleges and the CEO of the Texas Chamber of Commerce. The second panel addressed the types of programs, initiatives, and core curricula that need to be in place to better prepare students for college and to help them be more competitive in a global workforce. Panelists included a school district superintendent, a high school principal, and a community college representative. Facilitated group discussion centered on identifying best practices and overcoming challenges in implementing those practices.
Winter 2005 Meeting
In November 2005, OVAE convened a Community College/Adult Education Working Group on the topic of moving low-skilled adults through career pathway models operated by community college systems. Presidents/chancellors or campus leaders of community colleges participated in the sessions, with two additional presidents serving as presenters. The session included two panels focusing on strengthening the success of community colleges in moving students through adult basic education and language proficiency into credential-earning career pathways. One panel focused on the national scope of research, initiatives, and foundation and business support. Panelists represented the Community College Research Center, Jobs for the Future, the KnowledgeWorks Foundation, and Siemens Corporation. The other panel explored state and local efforts to include adult basic education programs in pathway models in three states (OH, OR and WA). Panelists included the state directors overseeing Adult Education and several community college presidents. Presentations were followed by facilitated discussions among the college presidents participating in the working group, resulting in a number of recommended strategies or next steps.
To stimulate the discussion participants were provided relevant reports and/or publications to review prior to the meeting.
Second Winter 2004 Meeting
A second meeting of the working group was held in the winter of 2004. At this meeting, 15 community college presidents and chancellors engaged in timely discussions about federal support with Assistant Secretaries and Directors from five federal agencies or offices providing funding to community colleges. Discussions focused on how to integrate funding from multiple sources, how federal funding is linked to strategic planning and institutional priorities at the college, and suggestions on how to make the process more productive. Federal offices participating in the discussions included the U.S. Department of Education's OVAE and Office of Postsecondary Education, the U.S. Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration, the National Science Foundation, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Science and Education Resources Development office.
The primary topics of the winter meeting were the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA) and the Workforce Investment Act (WIA). Sixteen presidents or chancellors of community colleges participated in the sessions, engaging with Acting Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education, Gene Hickok; Assistant Secretaries from the U.S. Department of Education, Susan Sclafani and Sally Stroup; and Emily DeRocco from the U.S. Department of Labor. The participants were able to discuss the top priorities within HEA and WIA for community colleges that should be addressed during the reauthorization process.
The winter meeting focused on the issues of remedial/developmental education and strategies for better serving students with disabilities in the community college. The presidents discussed the challenges and opportunities of serving these students and shared examples of how they coordinate funding across federal and state programs in order to enhance program services.
The spring meeting provided the Department with an opportunity to share with community college presidents the framework for the proposed Secondary and Technical Education Excellence Act. The Department was able to gather insights from presidents about the expanded role of colleges in supporting high equality technical education, rigorous academic preparation and effective transition strategies that support students' needs.
The fall meeting sought to gather input and guidance from presidents on the issues of accountability for performance and high school student transition into postsecondary. The presidents had an opportunity to address the current accountability provisions in the Perkins State Grant Program as well as provide insights into the role of community colleges in establishing dual-credit programs with high schools.