Tuesday, November 15, 2016

MC leads major statewide strategy for higher education

Texas Pathways supports all 50 Texas community college districts

By Rebecca Bell
Dean of Community Relations & Special Events

Midland College (MC) has been named as a “Cadre 1” community college to participate in an integrated statewide approach to student success. For the past 18 months, MC has been designing and implementing a “pathways” model with clear, educationally coherent program maps that are aligned for program completion, quality credentials, workforce skills and transferability for baccalaureate and graduate degrees. As a result of MC’s efforts, the college has been recognized as a leader in the Texas Success Center’s “Texas Pathways” initiative, and the MC developmental math program has been named as exemplar in their efforts to redesign curriculum for the new pathways approach.

Increasing levels of postsecondary educational attainment among Texas young people has become imperative. The opportunity for quality employment and a rewarding adult life largely depends upon completing a postsecondary academic credential. The state’s Higher Education Strategic Plan calls for 60 percent of 25- to 34-year-old Texans to hold a quality certificate or degree by 2030; currently, only 38 percent of young Texans have a postsecondary credential.

Recognizing this reality and affirming the critical role of Texas’ community colleges, the Texas Association of Community Colleges established the Texas Success Center in 2013 in order to tighten the linkage between practice, research and policy enabling Texas community colleges to benefit from national research and promising practices on how to accelerate degree completion.

"Approximately two years ago, we saw the need to redesign processes so that students have a clear direction and ‘path’ in their higher education goals,” explained MC President Dr. Steve Thomas. “We did extensive research as to how we could best empower our students for this goal attainment. As a result, we restructured all of our programs of study into eight major areas of interest from which students can choose their degree path. The new Pathways model has forced us to look at and refine not only instructional components, but also systems and services, such as advising, web services, admission, financial aid and business office operations.”

Thomas said that the restructuring is a cultural shift for the college, and has even prompted the development of the Support Our Students (SOS) network. The SOS project is employee-driven and provides counseling, mentoring and financial support to students. On November 2-4, leaders of MC’s Pathways initiative attended the first Texas Pathways Institute where they joined colleagues throughout the state for discussions, technical assistance and planning.

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