VC representatives participate in Pathways to Progress Institute

Dr. Patricia Vandervoort

Five Victoria College personnel joined more than 470 community college faculty, staff and administrators in Dallas this fall for the Pathways to Progress Institute, designed to increase student success. This was the largest-ever convening of Texas community colleges.

Hosted by the Texas Success Center (TSC), an affiliate organization of the Texas Association of Community Colleges (TACC), and Texas Completes, the institute included representatives from 68 institutions across the state, as well as seven institutions from Arkansas.

Dr. Tom Butler, VC president; Dr. Patricia Vandervoort, VC vice president of instruction; Babette Lowe, dean of academic foundations and student success; Bobby Cubriel, director of Advising, Counseling & Recruitment Services; and Ann Kapp, assistant history professor, attended the two-day institute.

Teams participated in one of three mini-institutes or strands that included an examination of key related data, as well as their onsite work. The strand work resulted in a written action plan for implementing new – and revising existing – policies and practices at participants’ home institutions.

“This provided an opportunity for us to assemble a small, diverse team from the college and focus on the data,” Vandervoort said. “While we have people looking at the data all the time, we seldom have a focused opportunity to review data with such a diverse group. The institute gave us a chance to sit down with the president, a vice president, a dean, a faculty member, and the director of advising, counseling and recruitment services and take a hard look at our developmental education data.”

Prior to attending the sessions, VC shared its student performance data with the institute. While there, the group started the development of a plan “so that when we got back to campus, we could get the other stakeholders involved in a discussion on how to move forward,” Vandervoort said.

The VC group reviewed its data, and looked at how VC students were testing with the new Texas Success Initiative Assessment (TSIA).

“We want to move them through developmental coursework faster instead of stretching it out across their whole Victoria College career,” she added.

Vandervoort said there was a lot of discussion on Guided Pathways to Student Success, a plan which Victoria College is working to implement. This reduces the course guesswork and develops a pathway once a student has declared a major and chosen a four-year institution to which he or she will transfer.

For example, we’ll be able to say, ‘if you want to be a biology major and you want to attend Texas A&M at College Station, then these are the courses you must take while at Victoria College,’” she explained. “It will help them complete their core and move them to that bachelor’s degree when they get to A&M.”

The VC delegation joined other participants in assembly sessions, led by experts in the field from across the country, aimed at increasing student success. Presenters and panelists discussed transfer issues, regional collaboration and university and community college alignment. Participants broke out in teams of 5-6 to focus on organizing for the Texas Success Initiative with a particular emphasis on the state’s new assessment for entering college students, the TSIA.

A diagnostic tool is included in the TSIA that aids the student in college placement.

If you, as a student, are not college-ready as identified by testing through the TSIA, you are given additional questions which will diagnose those areas in which you need the most work,” Vandervoort said. “For example, in math, it will tell us the student understands addition, subtraction, multiplication and division of whole numbers and integers, but not fractions. Then, we can focus our attention to help that student master the concept of fractions.”

“We must succeed at this work to make Texas a better place to live and work, and better begins with strong and successful community colleges,” TACC CEO/president Rey García said. “This incredible turnout by our colleges is a testament to their commitment to supporting Texas students and their success.”

Amy Welch, Texas Completes executive director applauded the Pathways to Progress Institute student success goal, saying, “research tells us, and our preliminary data indicate, that when students are presented with more structure and clearer maps leading to the completion of their academic goals, they are more likely to persist and ultimately succeed.”

Led by Lone Star College System, Texas Completes personnel bring together eight college systems (Alamo Colleges, Austin Community College, Dallas County Community College District, El Paso Community College, Kilgore College, Lone Star College System, Odessa College and South Texas College) that share a common vision for deep student success reform.

Published: Friday, 24 October 2014

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