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ARC Students Support Act To Improve Graduation Rates

Legislating community college improvement at area schools including ARC near Carmichael is goal of bill.

As state tax revenue for higher education falls, . Against this backdrop, the California Senate approved the Student Success Act of 2012 (SB 1456) recently, a bill that will impact about 2.6 million California community college students and is now before the Assembly.

“While many students are getting out of the starting blocks at our community colleges, more than 50 percent fail to get across the finish line within six years,” state Sen. Alan Lowenthal said in a released statement.

State Sen. Carol Liu, D-La Cañada-Flintridge, is the co-author of SB 1456. One of its main goals is to improve students’ attainment of certificates and degrees at the state’s 112 community colleges, California Community Colleges Chancellor Jack Scott said in a released statement.

Students at near Carmichael say they support the act.

"The component of the act that speaks the loudest to me is the scorecard," said Quierra Robey, 23, president-elect of the student senate at ARC. "As an African-American student, I see this as crucial to identifying the areas of need among our students, seeking solutions and improving the education gap."

Omba Kipuke, 22, the student body's vice president, was born in the Republic of Congo. He told Patch he backs the Success Act as a way to help motivate community college students such as him to complete their academic goals.

The Success Act would "require that campuses participate in a common assessment system and post a student success campus scorecard as a condition for receiving student success categorical funding,” according to a statement from the chancellor’s office.

In addition, the act would “establish new requirements to be met by low-income students in order to receive a board of governor's fee waiver at the California community colleges,” according to a state Assembly summary.

According to the ARC Research Office, the numbers of students gaining degrees and certificates has been increasing during the past decade.

A total of 1,182 ARC students received Associate of Science or Associate of Arts degrees for the 2001-2002 school year compared with 2,102 students in 2010-2011, a 5.93 percent rate of annual growth. ARC students’ attainment of certificates jumped from 451 in 2000-2001 to 983 in 2010-2011, an 8.1 percent annual growth rate.

How does the ARC data stack up with district-wide numbers for the Los Rios District Community College District, which includes ARC and the Consumnes River, Folsom Lake and Sacramento City colleges?

According to district research, a district total of 2,793 students earned AA or AS degrees in 2000-2001 versus 4,455 degrees awarded in 2010-2011, a 4.78 annual growth rate. For 2000-2001, 2,204 Los Rios district students gained certificates versus 2,172 certificates in 2010-2011, a fall in the annual growth rate of 0.15 percent.

Statewide, community colleges granted 67,121 AA or AS degrees in 2000-2001 versus 85,581 degrees awarded in 2010-2011, a 2.46 annual growth rate, according to the chancellor's office. For 2000-2001, students were awarded 32,649 certificates versus 47,183 received in 2010-2011, a 3.75 percent annual growth rate.

SB 1456 is before the state Assembly Committee on Higher Education now. A 12-page summary states multiple backers of the bill and one opponent, the California Community College Association of Faculty Members, an affiliate of the California Teacher's Association.

According to the association, SB 1456: “creates a two-tiered system of
students: those with educational experiences versus those who lack the
language, computer and math skills necessary for college success.”

Robey the ARC president-elect said she used to be in opposition of the act, until she studied it closely.

"I finally realized that this act seeks to accept the problems in our higher education system, improve them, and ultimately stand up for the students' rights for a more effective and accountable system," she said. "My only hesitation was with the unit cap for the board of governors' fee waiver and when that was taken out, Lowenthal had my full support."

"To those who are still hesitant, I urge them to really critique the definition of success."

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