Mounting evidence leaves little doubt that a postsecondary credential will be a prerequisite for a majority of jobs in the future. Policymakers, experts, and foundations across the country are responding with calls to dramatically increase educational attainment. Michigan is not immune from these pressures and community colleges across the state have responded by intensifying efforts to improve student outcomes through initiatives like Achieving the Dream. The challenge, given the decentralized nature of higher education in Michigan, has been that college innovations often occur in isolation leaving each college to re-invent the wheel with limited or no support.
To address this disconnect and provide greater opportunities for colleges to collaborate, the Michigan Community College Association established the Center for Student Success through a generous grant from the Kresge Foundation. This Center provides state-level support to Michigan’s 28 community colleges by serving as a hub connecting leaders, administrators, faculty, and staff in their emerging and ongoing efforts to improve student outcomes. By deliberately linking practice, research, and policy the Center will help to shorten the time it takes colleges to implement practices that work. Center activities are guided by four overarching goals:
- To enhance existing and establish new student success communities of practice through the regular exchange of information at convenings and professional development opportunities
- To promote innovation and continuous improvement through the appropriate collection and use of data and performance metrics
- To develop a sustained student-success research agenda based on the needs of Michigan community colleges and key issues correlated with improved student outcomes
- To identify areas where collective, state-level policy action is warranted to enhance collaborative college efforts to innovate toward improved student outcomes
Chris Baldwin is executive director of the Michigan Center for Student Success (firstname.lastname@example.org)