PITTSBURGH—The Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC) has been selected as one of 40 community colleges nationwide to pilot a new Voluntary Framework of Accountability (VFA) that is designed to redefine what “success” means for two-year institutions. The VFA represents the first national system to provide accurate data, operational transparency and the ability for community colleges to benchmark student progress and completion data against peer institutions.
The VFA is being developed by the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) in collaboration with the Association of Community College Trustees and the College Board and with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Lumina Foundation for Education.
The pilot colleges include 37 institutions, two statewide systems and one multi-college district in 29 states. CCAC and Montgomery County Community College in Blue Bell are the only two institutions from Pennsylvania to serve as pilots.
“CCAC is very pleased to be among the pioneering institutions to help develop this important framework,” said CCAC President Alex Johnson, who also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of AACC. “The VFA is a natural complement to our ongoing efforts to improve student success at CCAC, including the work of our Institutional Research department through the Achieving the Dream initiative.”
The VFA pilot colleges have already begun to test a series of custom metrics that community college professionals developed over the last several months. The project fills what community college advocates have seen as a void in measures appropriate to the unique two-year college mission.
“Many traditional measures of institutional effectiveness don’t work well for community colleges,” said Walter G. Bumphus, president and CEO of AACC. “For example, most are pegged to full-time students, and the majority of community college students attend part-time. Our overarching goal is to develop measures appropriate to our mission that clearly tell students and policy makers how we’re doing.”
Pending outcomes of the pilot testing, reaction to the VFA among AACC member institutions and future funding, a full-scale roll-out to the nation’s close to 1,200 community, junior and technical colleges could take place starting in 2012.
“The Obama administration and others are focused on greater numbers of student completions and demonstrable measures for how we gauge student success. VFA is the community college response that says, ‘We accept that challenge,’” Bumphus said.
The Community College of Allegheny County is the largest institution of postsecondary higher education in Pennsylvania. The college serves 30,000 credit students through 170 degree and certificate programs and offers thousands of lifelong learning non-credit and workforce development courses to 35,000 students annually. Incorporating a learning-centered environment committed to the future of the region, CCAC continues to expand its reach through innovative programming and accessible instruction offered via convenient day, evening, weekend and online courses. With four campuses and six centers serving Allegheny County and surrounding communities, CCAC endeavors to fulfill its mission to provide affordable access to quality education and offer a dynamic, diverse and supportive learning environment that prepares the region’s residents for academic, professional and personal success in our changing global society.
The American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) is a non-profit organization representing the nation’s close to 1,200 community, junior and technical colleges and their more than 12 million students. Community colleges are the largest and fastest growing sector of higher education.