HECC Collaborations |  March-April Update, 2015

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In this issue

Public Colleges and Universities Waive Additional Placement Exams for Students who Meet College Readiness Standards

Conversations Q&A: How does HECC define completion?

Conversations Q&A: Who is held accountable for building a college-going culture in high schools?

Oregon ASPIRE Expands Mentoring and Outreach to Salem-Keizer Schools

Upcoming HECC Meetings
Press Release: Commission approves change in public university funding model to improve student outcomes
Upcoming HECC Meetings

Full Commission Meeting:
May 14

Funding and Achievement Subcommittee:
May 7

Student Success and Institutional Collaboration Subcommittee:
May 13

To view recent reports of the Commission, click here.

To stay informed on HECC legislative informational materials, click here.
To join the HECC email list for this newsletter and meeting notices, click here.
Q&A with the HECC

At the Student Success and Retention Conference this February, participants in a plenary session featuring the HECC submitted excellent questions to the presenter. We will be addressing many of these topics in coming issues, starting today with questions from Marla Edge and James McNicholas, featured below.
Q: How is the HECC defining "completion" and is it a discussion that is set up to evolve? Getting a certificate or AA/AS may not always be in a student's best interest if what he or she plans to do is transfer. Marla Edge, Director of Academic Agreements, Oregon Tech

A: Yes, we wholeheartedly agree that our definition of “completion” should include students who successfully transfer, especially given that undergraduate community college transfers at Oregon public universities have increased from about 5,000 to 7,000 students in the last ten years, and thousands of these students transfer with coursework but without having earned an AA/AS or other transfer degree. The HECC has worked closely with community colleges and seven public universities to shift the approach for distributing state higher education to a model that awards both access and successful “completion.”—So, how do we define completion?

The new community college funding model (still in final stages of design) recognizes the complexity of student pathways in how it approaches “completions," which are defined as awards of degrees/certificate as well as transfers, whether or not students transfer with an associate’s degree. In addition, the current version of the model would reward other outcomes including accelerated learning/dual credit achievement by high school students, success for students placed in developmental education, and achievement of important coursework milestone progress within the academic year (15 or 30 credits). This developing model would also provide incentives to increase completions for underrepresented and low-income students.

As noted previously, we’re excited to announce that the new public university funding model was adopted on April 9.  For the universities, “completion” is likewise focused on awards of degrees and certificates, but it also includes funding to support course completion, and other factors such as completion of dual credit in high school. The university model provides incentives for institutions to support the degree and certificate completion of underrepresented students such as Pell grant recipients, underrepresented minority, rural and veteran students, and serves economic development goals by supporting completion in high demand/high need fields.—Ben Cannon, Executive Director, HECC
Q: High schools are held accountable for graduating their students. Colleges are responsible for graduating their students. Who will be held accountable for making sure those h.s. graduates choose to enter college? Academic standards in h.s. are fine, but we also need to emphasize a college going culture. How is HECC supporting that effort? —James McNicholas, Marketing and Student Recruitment, Chemeketa Community College

A: The HECC’s strategic plan focuses on access, affordability, and completion, and I am particularly pleased about the cross-sector partnerships and collaboration underway in building a college-going culture. The HECC, working with Oregon Education Investment Board (OEIB), has developed College and Career Readiness Indicators for Oregon schools. The HECC’s goals for access and success include identifying and preparing historically underserved students in high school for college.  Some efforts in this area include expansion of the Oregon Opportunity Grant and Oregon ASPIRE, which focus to a great extent on providing access to income eligible students, and continue on to include financial support and college readiness activities. Other efforts contributing to a culture of college and career readiness include HECC’s development of statewide policy and direction for dual credit programs, development of college credit guidelines for accelerated learning programs and Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate credits offered by many Oregon high schools, the recent community college and university agreements described in this newsletter that align college course placement with K-12 assessment, outreach to students and families on filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), and others.

The 40-40-20 goal has become a driver of many districts’ initiatives for college and career readiness and a key component of local equity and access plans.  Many districts have adopted college and career readiness as a goal and have begun to build a system wide culture beginning as early as elementary school.  I experienced this firsthand in the Salem-Keizer School District, particularly as I was leading and facilitating the district’s work in this area. The HECC continues to support this effort by reaching out to K-12 partners and others to highlight the importance of preparing all students for college and careers. The HECC also encourages colleges and universities to engage K-12 districts in their regions to build local and regional partnerships to support students, teachers, and faculty.—Salam Noor, Director of Academic Planning and Policy, HECC

Increase funding + focus funding

Message from Ben Cannon, HECC Executive Director

Greetings to all during this very busy spring! On behalf of our commission and staff, I would like to first extend warm congratulations and welcome to Michael H. Schill, who was recently announced as the incoming president of University of Oregon. We look forward to Michael Schill’s leadership, expertise, and partnership in advancing University of Oregon's mission and our collective goals for student success.

I would also like to extend tremendous thanks to all partners for the coordinated work we’ve done during this Legislative Session to improve postsecondary opportunities for Oregonians. I’m very pleased that the HECC will finish this week a series of presentations to the Joint Committee on Ways and Means, Subcommittee on Education about the need for increased and strategically-focused higher education and workforce funding. For the first time, Oregon Legislators have heard a coordinated 16-day presentation which integrates all agencies and institutions in the postsecondary education budget, representing Oregon’s community colleges, public universities, private postsecondary education, Oregon Health & Science University, financial aid and outreach, workforce programs, public services, and the HECC agency. We are honored to present these initiatives in collaboration with leaders from the community colleges, universities, business leaders, employers, and most importantly, students, whose testimony has been remarkably inspiring.      

If you have not already done so, we hope you view recorded testimony and written materials here (postsecondary education presentations began on March 23), or view the HECC's key presentation materials on our website on our progress to 40-40-20, funding history and challenges, and our goals and opportunities for affordability and student success in this budget that will serve hundreds of thousands of Oregon students. If you wish to provide public input, consider attending one of the upcoming Ways and Means Committee “roadshow” public hearings this month where Legislators are seeking input from Oregonians on their budget priorities. These hearings started April 10 and are scheduled through April 25 at locations across the state announced here.

I’m also delighted to report that the HECC last week made one of its most significant decisions in its short history to date. At its April 9 meeting, the Commission approved a significant change to the state funding model for Oregon’s public universities, changing the basis for state funding distribution from enrollment only to access and successful completion of degrees for resident students. Importantly, this model focuses on improving outcomes for all students and especially those least likely to enroll and complete today, such as students who are low-income, rural, underrepresented minorities, and veterans, as well as investing in priorities for Oregon’s 21st century economy. Combined with our continued work with the Oregon Legislature on their need for increased investment in our campuses, this model is promising for current and future students of our state.

Best regards,

Ben Cannon
Executive Director, HECC

Public universities and community colleges waive placement exams for students who meet college readiness standards 

New agreements align Oregon public college and university course placement with Smarter Balanced test scores and continued 12th grade rigor

High school juniors in Oregon taking the Smarter Balanced exam this spring may have an added benefit from the test when they reach college. For at least the next two years, students entering Oregon’s 17 community colleges and 7 universities may choose to waive placement testing if they score a 3 or higher on Smarter Balanced tests and meet requirements for continued academic rigor during 12th grade.

In adopting these agreements, Oregon’s higher education system leaders are signaling that Smarter Balanced can play an important role in indicating whether high school students have the mathematics, reading and writing skills needed for college success.

These new agreements were adopted in February 2015 and will be piloted for the next two academic years, starting with the graduating high school class of 2016. Under the agreements, students who score a 3 or higher on the 11th grade Smarter Balanced assessment in Math and English, demonstrate evidence of continued learning through grade 12 coursework, and enroll in a public postsecondary institution in Oregon the year immediately after graduation can choose to use their scores to exempt them from placement testing for college level Math and English/Language Arts when they arrive on campus.* The Oregon community college agreement requires that students successfully complete college-level credits in Mathematics and/or English during 12th grade (which could include dual credit, early college, local accelerated credit models, and exam achievement in AP or IB courses), and the Oregon public university agreement requires that students complete an appropriate mathematics or English/Language Arts course in grade 12 (with a grade of B of better for those scoring 3). The agreements do not affect college admission, only first term placement in college level coursework, since eligible students will be exempt from taking the placement tests.

Additional work is currently being done on the 12th grade coursework requirement, and information and details to be used for advising high school students will be provided as it is available on the Core to College website and through publications to the field.  

Through the adoption of these alignment agreements, Oregon’s community colleges and universities have affirmed the goals of both the Common Core State Standards and the new Smarter Balanced assessments—improved student learning throughout K-12 education that truly prepares students for success in college and/or career—and provided an incentive for students to take rigorous courses during the senior year. Continued learning in the senior year, preferably in college level courses for those students who are ready, and in appropriate transition options for students who are almost ready, helps students to enter college with confidence and skills necessary to be successful.  

Ben Cannon, executive director for the HECC said, “These agreements are a strong step forward in 11-14 alignment and signal to students that their hard work on the Smarter Balanced assessments and their coursework rigor in the 12th grade have concrete benefits at a college level. Thanks to the community colleges and universities who collaborated on the agreements, to Lisa Mentz, administrator of the Core to College grant, Lisa Reynolds, Smarter Balanced higher education lead, as well as our K-12 partners for the increased attention on college and career readiness.”

These agreements were developed through collaboration among secondary and postsecondary leaders and stakeholders, spearheaded by administrators of Oregon’s Core to College Grant. Oregon was one of 10 states awarded this three-year grant (funded in 2011 by the Lumina, Hewlett, and Gates foundations,​ and the Carnegie Corporation of New York) to improve alignment between the postsecondary and K-12 sectors and to provide more seamless educational transition opportunities. Next steps include data system technical work, which must be completed in the coming year in order to implement the policies, and continued review of student outcomes. Statewide review will take place in 2018 to evaluate the agreements’ effectiveness and determine whether any adjustments are needed to better support student transitions and success. 

For more information, also see contacts below.*

Oregon ASPIRE expands mentoring and outreach to Salem-Keizer schools 

We’re excited to report that ASPIRE is expanding its program by bringing on the very first district-wide program in the state. The Salem-Keizer School District (SKSD) and the Salem-Keizer Education Foundation (SKEF) are partnering to bring ASPIRE into 11 middle schools (Crossler, Leslie, Parrish, Houck, Stephens, Claggett, Judson, Whitteaker, Walker, Straub, Waldo) and 9 high schools (North, South, West, McNary, McKay, Sprague, Roberts, Early College, Career Tech).

Salem-Keizer School District is Oregon’s second largest school district enrolling more than 41,000 students, approximately 60% of whom live in poverty, 26 of 68 schools qualifying for Title I and the state’s second-highest dropout rate. The dissolution of college and career readiness specialists at regional high schools created a gap in resources that has negatively impacted student and parent participation in such programs, furthering the disconnect between students and college/career readiness. 

SKEF will serve as a one-stop resource for students and families across the district. The ASPIRE site will offer comprehensive services including one-on-one appointments with experienced professionals; regularly scheduled classes such as How to Choose the Right School for You, college essay writing, FAFSA/financial aid help, scholarship information and career development; a computer lab to access college and career websites; Career Information System; interactive learning sessions; a library of college and career planning resources; and drop in services to make information more available for families on the go. Ongoing workshops will allow college and career specialists to share information, teach and advise students and families in a centralized location. Special events will bring in experts from across the nation to talk about college, testing, career paths and other relevant topics. ASPIRE mentors will work on-site or be deployed to individual schools to provide in-school resources and programming, including one-on-one appointments and group sessions. A centrally located ASPIRE downtown site will accommodate the needs of home-schooled and non-SKSD students who have not had access to career and college coaching. 

Salem-Keizer Education Foundation (SKEF) has a well-established infrastructure to support volunteers. SKEF’s goal is to train 250 ASPIRE mentors to work in area schools and at the downtown site. For those who are in Salem and wish to volunteer, please feel free to contact Lori Ellis at Lori.Ellis@state.or.us. 

HECC/CCWD seeks Director/Commissioner of Community Colleges & Workforce Development 

The Department of Community Colleges & Workforce Development in collaboration with the HECC is seeking an outstanding professional to lead their efforts. The successful candidate will oversee a wide variety of mission-critical programs and functions. Experience in higher education leadership, preferably at the community college level, with a track record of designing and implementing strategies that improve student success and institutional coordination is highly desirable. The position posting is here.

Learn More about the HECC at: www.oregon.gov/HigherEd
Photos: Student photos in this issue are courtesy of University of Oregon, Southern Oregon University, and Oregon Community Colleges and Workforce Development.
Endi Hartigan, Communications and Policy Specialist, HECC, endi.hartigan@state.or.us

*See campus agreements or contact the college or university of interest for more comprehensive details on placement policies. State contacts:
Lisa Reynolds, Smarter Balanced higher ed lead for Oregon, Community College Education Specialist, CCWD, lisa.reynolds@state.or.us; Lisa Mentz, Core to College Alignment Director, CCWD, lisa.mentz@state.or.us.

Copyright Higher Education Coordinating Commission 2015, All rights reserved.
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