The American Association of Community Colleges has named Genesee Community College as one of a select group of 40 outstanding community colleges nationwide that will help shape the future of student and institutional assessment in America’s community colleges. Genesee was the only community college in New York State selected.
Genesee and the other 39 institutions will help develop and implement the American Association of Community College’s groundbreaking “Voluntary Framework of Accountability” (VFA) program. The VFA redesigns how community colleges measure and report accomplishments and outcomes. The program is being introduced in collaboration with four prestigious organizations: the Association of Community College Trustees, the College Board, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Lumina Foundation.
Historically, educators measured student success by reviewing such data as graduation rates and student grades. Institutional effectiveness and accountability was often measured very simplistically by analyzing fiscal data and service provided. However, these traditional measures do not assess the long-term impact of a college, such as concrete skills acquired by students, job success of graduates, economic impact of a college, and other goals important to legislators and the general public. The American Association of Community College’s VFA program will develop and test new metrics that measure a broad range of student and institutional outcomes, according to Dr. Larene Hoelcle, Genesee’s Vice President for Human Resources and Planning.
Genesee has made student and institutional assessment a high priority over the last decade, Dr. Hoelcle noted. “This makes Genesee Community College an ideal participant in the VFA,” she said. “We are already innovators in outcome-based assessment, and our participation in the VFA may lead to even higher standards of excellence here at Genesee. Beyond that, we will have the opportunity to help shape the assessment and accountability techniques community colleges across the United States will use in the decades ahead.”
The pilot VFA project involves 37 individual colleges, two state systems, and one multi-college district in 29 states. (A complete list of participating colleges can be found at www.aacc.nche.edu). Each college will begin testing custom metrics this year. The project will eventually result in metrics and standards that can be used by colleges, funders, and legislative policy-making bodies for evaluation and accountability.
VFA pilot colleges will work from a draft technical manual developed by four VFA working groups, a technical committee, and a national steering committee made up of veteran research experts and educators from within the college community. Project leaders are developing the VFA in stages. If pilot testing over the next year is successful, the AACC hopes to make the VFA tools available to the nearly 1,200 community, junior, and technical colleges in 2012.
Genesee’s participation in the Voluntary Framework of Accountability is both a reflection on Genesee’s past accomplishments and a tool for innovation and greater success in the years ahead, said Genesee President Stuart Steiner: “Many traditional measures of institutional and student success don’t work well for community colleges. For example, traditional measures are geared toward full-time students, while community colleges serve a large population of part-time students, some enrolled in credit-bearing classes, some in non-credit classes, some seeking degrees, and some simply seeking new job or professional skills. We are very pleased to work with the American Association of Community Colleges in developing measures that clearly and accurately illustrate how community colleges perform well through all programs and services.
Dr. Steiner continued: “We at Genesee Community College have a long history of being at the cutting edge of academic innovation and accountability. We know how to reach standards of excellence, and provide a very cost-effective return to taxpayers. We are very proud to have been selected for the Voluntary Framework of Accountability program after a rigorous application process, and to help influence the effectiveness of all of our nation’s community colleges.”
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