CHICAGO, Nov. 19, 2010 /PRNewswire-HISPANIC PR WIRE/ — Mayor Richard M. Daley and officials of the City Colleges of Chicago (CCC) today launched the reinvention of the 99-year old community college system set in motion by Daley last March with the goal of ensuring its students have the skills that make them ready to compete for the jobs of the 21st century.
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“The bottom line is that we need to get the highest possible return on our investment in City Colleges to ensure Chicago’s economic future,” Daley said in a news conference held at Richard J. Daley College, 7500 S. Pulaski Rd.
“That’s why earlier this year, I named new leadership for the City Colleges of Chicago and challenged them to reinvent the system from top to bottom so that it better prepares our students to meet the economic challenges of today and the future,” he said.
Daley was joined at the news conference by his new CCC leadership appointees, Chancellor Cheryl Hyman and Board Chairman Martin Cabrera Jr., who detailed their plan to remake City Colleges.
They said that through a highly-collaborative multi-staged process, faculty, staff, and students will team with external advisory councils to explore eight key areas of CCC’s educational and operational practices to develop and then implement solutions to ensure students are prepared to succeed in the 21st century economy.
“They have taken strong first steps and have accepted the challenge I asked them to meet,” Daley said. “This reinvention is a work in progress, but it’s important to stay on the timetable they have set out and to demonstrate to all Chicagoans that there is a new day at City Colleges.”
The Reinvention effort is led by Hyman, who began to measure City Colleges’ performance based on student outcomes quickly after being appointed to her position by Mayor Daley. Early findings pointed to the needs for this deeper, systemic review.
“City Colleges has a proud tradition. Over the past century, we have offered more than a million people an education and opportunity for a better life,” said Chancellor Hyman. “Yet, too many of our students today are not meeting their goals. Reinvention will help us give our students what they need to succeed.”
Hyman said just sixteen percent of students transfer to a four year institution, and only 4-5% earn a bachelor’s degree. The City Colleges loses more than half of its degree-seeking students before completion of their first 15 credit hours.
“If students are not getting the credentials they come here for,” said Chairman Cabrera, “then the burden is on us to figure out what programs, operations and services need to change to make sure they will succeed.”
A preliminary diagnostic review conducted this summer and fall found eight priority areas for improvement, including:
— Program portfolio review: increase the economic value of credentials and the number of transfers to higher education.
— Remediation: improve outcomes for students needing remediation, including more swiftly moving students into credit programs, and creating partnerships with Chicago Public Schools and others.
— Adult Education: improve programs so that students are on the pathway to completion of their program and successfully transfer to college credit courses.
— Student support and pathways: improve advising, tutoring, job placement, and transfer and other wraparound supports.
— Faculty & staff development: create development programs that better support faculty and staff in their service to students, establish performance goals and evaluation methods.
— Operational excellence and optimization: improve the return on non-instructional related investments, and build an investment strategy that supports student success.
— Technology: drive significant improvement in both instructional and non-instructional technology and data integrity to ensure students, faculty and staff have the tools necessary to succeed.
— Strategic capital planning and investments: modernize our facilities and ensure we have the resources and technologies to prepare students for success in their new careers.
A task force of faculty, students and staff will work in each of these areas. The taskforces will be advised by external advisory councils made of leaders from academia, business, civic and foundations, community and capital planning experts. Co-chairs of the external advisory councils include:
— Academic: Brian Fabes, The Civic Consulting Alliance and Jesse Ruiz, Illinois State Board of Education
— Business: Gerald Roper, Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce and Omar Duque, Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
— Capital Planning: James Frankenbach, formerly of Rush Northshore Medical Center and Elzie Higgenbottom, East Lake Management & Development
— Civic & Foundations: Lester McKeever, Washington, Pittman and McKeever and Whitney Smith, Joyce Foundation
— Community: Martin Castro, Castro Synergies, LLC and Phil Jackson, the Black Star Project
The task forces’ work will be tracked publicly online, and success will be measured by the ability to reach four student-centered goals:
— Increase the number of students earning college credentials of economic value.
— Increase the rate of transfer to bachelor’s degree programs following CCC graduation.
— Drastically improve outcomes for students requiring remediation.
— Increase the number and share of ABE/GED/ESL students who advance to and succeed in college-level courses.
The Reinvention effort has received generous support from local and national foundations, including the Searle Funds at the Chicago Community Trust, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Joyce Foundation. Extensive pro bono support is also being provided by the Civic Consulting Alliance and their partner, private sector firms from across Chicago.
Hyman said that change is already underway with a number of exciting initial projects in the works:
— For the first time, City Colleges is reaching out to 15 thousand students identified as being at risk of failing one or more classes and are working with them to develop plans to help them successfully pass their courses.
— Also for the first time, CCC is systematically identifying students who may soon be eligible to graduate and proactively offering transfer and job placement assistance.
— CCC has launched many technology upgrades that the district needs to best be able to support student success both inside and outside the classroom.
— CCC has begun a pilot project with the Chicago Public Schools to determine which of our incoming students are in need of remediation in their senior year and then support those students prior to CCC enrollment so they can maximize their time by taking full college credit courses as soon as possible.
“I believe we have the opportunity, under our new leadership, to turn the City Colleges of Chicago system into a world-class institution that not only prepares students to move on in higher education, but also ensures that they have the skills to make themselves employable,” Daley said.
“No institution in Chicago is better positioned than City Colleges to become the economic engine that prepares a skilled workforce,” he said.
Members of the public are invited to offer their ideas and monitor the progress of the Reinvention effort at www.ReinventingCCC.org.
SOURCE City Colleges of Chicago