Today, a live webcast of the first-ever White House Summit on Community Colleges will highlight the important role that community colleges play in educating the nation’s workers.
The summit will be viewed live by Valencia administrators, faculty and staff. Hosted by Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden and a community college professor, the summit will address the role of community colleges in sustaining the nation’s economic competitiveness and in achieving President Barack Obama’s goal of leading the world with the highest proportion of college graduates by 2020.
Valencia is the top producer of associate degree graduates among the nation’s community colleges and leads the nation in associate degrees awarded to minorities, according to data from the U. S. Department of Education.
Valencia has made great strides in contributing to the national goal of increasing the number of baccalaureate degree holders with the following initiatives:
- DirectConnect to UCF was created in 2005 to expand students’ access to higher education. The program offers guaranteed admission to UCF for graduates of Valencia, Brevard and Lake-Sumter community colleges and Seminole State College. Today, more than one-third of the graduates of the University of Central Florida, the nation’s 10th largest university, are transfer students from Valencia Community College.
- Valencia has long-term assessment results that show a reduction in academic achievement gaps across racial and ethnic groups, particularly among Caucasian and Hispanic students. In a study involving 34,000 students over four years that was undertaken as part of a national initiative called Achieving the Dream (ATD), Valencia has sought to improve the success rates of students in six courses that a majority of students must take and in which many have traditionally struggled. As a result of this work, achievement gaps between African American and Caucasian students narrowed from 13.4 percent in 2004 to 3.6 percent in 2008. Gaps between Hispanic and Caucasian students saw an even more dramatic shift, with Hispanics lagging by 1.8 percent in 2004, and four years later, surpassing their Caucasian counterparts by 4 percent. These results were largely due to three strategies employed as part of the ATD initiative to improve student performance: peer tutoring, linked courses, and mandated enrollment in a Student Success course for those who were required to take development math, reading or writing.
- A 2009 grant in the amount of $733,333 from MDC., Inc., a grantee of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, to boost the college completion rates of low-income students and students of color, is helping Valencia to further identify and close achievement gaps.
- While the Associate in Arts (A.A.) degree is traditionally sought by transfer students, Valencia’s Associate in Science (A.S.)-to-bachelor degree partnerships give students credentials and job skills as they continue their journey toward a bachelor’s degree.
The White House Summit on Community Colleges kicks off at 12:15 p.m. EDT today. For information, visit their website at http://www.whitehouse.gov/communitycollege/details