Article - Office of College Advancement

Ohlone College fares well on JC report card

Study: 60 percent of students earn degrees, higher than average for similar schools statewide

By Angela Woodall and Lisa M. Krieger, MEDIANEWS STAFF.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007—Reprinted from Inside Bay Area.

Fremont—Ohlone College students stand a better chance at graduating with a degree—a certificate of progress toward transferring to a university—than their counterparts at some California community colleges.

The Fremont college also beat the state average on that particular measure of student success, according to a report released Monday.

Ohlone College had a rate of 60.8 percent, compared to the state average of 52 percent—comparable to the graduation rate for the California State University system.

"Ohlone has worked hard on student success," college President Doug Treadway said.

"We have to give credit to our local high schools for preparing students, as well as our support staff, counselors and instructors for creating a climate that supports high levels of student success," Treadway said.

The report, the first internal audit by the community college system, studies the performance of its 110 community colleges and 2.5 million students.

Fulfilling a 2004 legislative mandate, it is considered to be the most comprehensive and detailed assessment of the system's many campuses.

Overall, it found that the six-year success rate hasn't budged much in the past three years, since the data were first collected.

California's community college system, the largest higher educational system in the nation, has long prided itself on providing an education to everyone who wants one.

Because community colleges must accept any Californian 18 and over, they handle a large number of students who need remedial help before they can begin taking college courses.

So the system faces big challenges, ranging from dramatic demographic changes to state funding cutbacks.

Six years after enrolling in community college, only half to two-thirds of area students succeed in gaining a degree, the report found.

The report provides a snapshot of "student achievement" at various campuses:

  • In the Chabot-Las Positas Community College District, which includes part of Union City, the rate for Chabot was 51.1 percent while Las Positas had a rate of 60.7 percent.
  • In the San Mateo County Community College District, the rate for Skyline was 56 percent; for Canada 50.1 percent, and for the College of San Mateo, 59.8 percent.
  • In the San Jose-Evergreen Community College District, Evergreen Valley College had a rate of 55 percent; San Jose City College had a rate of 50.8 percent.
  • In the Foothill-DeAnza Community College District, the rate for DeAnza was 65 percent and Foothill was 66 percent.
  • At Cabrillo College in Aptos, 50.3 percent achieved success.

The report, titled "Focus on Results: Accountability Reporting for the Community Colleges," does not study all students. Rather, it measures the success stories—students who have already completed 12 units of course work and took English and math assessments.

So it paints a rosier picture than reports that looked at the entire student body, which found fewer than one-quarter of students achieving their goals.

"The community colleges' number is very different than ours," said Nancy Shurlock of CSU-Sacramento's Institute for Higher Education Leadership & Policy, whose recent study found that 10 percent of students who want a two-year degree and 26 percent of those hoping to transfer to a four-year university achieve their goals.

"This measure doesn't tell us whether they're doing their job with the toughest students," she said. "They look at students who are already successful. Plenty of students never make it to 12 units or enroll in college English or math.

"I don't want to judge whether a 50 percent success rate means that the glass is half full or half empty. Fifty percent means there is still a lot of work to do."

There were several bright spots in the report. It found that the median income of community college students who completed their degrees or vocational certificates nearly tripled—from $17,000 per year to $49,500 per year—when compared over a five-year period before and after completion.

In addition, the completion rate for students in vocational courses is high—77.3 percent.

Contact Angela Woodall at (510) 353-7004 or Lisa M. Krieger at (650) 688-7565.

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