April Community College Leader Bulletin

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Community College Leader Bulletin

 Volume 8, Issue 8                                                                      April 2019


Inside this issue

Jeremy Varner
Administrator, Division of Community Colleges and Workforce Preparation


Barbara Burrows
Chief, Bureau of Community Colleges


Pradeep Kotamraju
Chief, Bureau of Career and Technical  Education


Heather Doe
Communications Consultant, Bureau of Community Colleges

Action team explores use of open educational resources

Text Books

A team of educators and administrators from postsecondary institutions across Iowa is exploring how open educational resources (OER) are being used to combat rising textbook costs that can add an unnecessary roadblock to college success for some students.

OER are free educational materials that reside in the public domain or have been released under an open copyright license that permits their reuse and re-purposing by others. OER have gained popularity in recent years as textbook costs have risen 87.5 percent over the past decade, more than three times the rate of inflation (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016). These materials, while free to students, take time to develop and time for faculty to ensure they meet appropriate quality standards within the colleges.

The Iowa Open Education Action Team, consisting of five original members from Iowa’s community colleges and public universities, formed in late 2018 when the Midwest Higher Education Compact held the first regional OER Policy and Implementation Summit. Higher education experts from across the country convened to learn about effective OER implementation strategies from national experts and peer states. At this meeting, the action team began work on a plan to grow and support the OER initiatives underway in the state based on their goals to:

  • gather baseline information on OER implementation at Iowa postsecondary institutions;
  • build capacity for the development of additional OER initiatives; and
  • develop recommendations for professional development support and funding for the use of these free resources.

Regarding goal one, the action team disseminated a survey in January to 42 Iowa postsecondary institutions. All Iowa community colleges, the public four-year institutions, and half of the state's private institutions participated. Two team members, Kyle Collins, Associate Dean of Online and Blended Learning from Northeast Iowa Community College, and Abbey Elder, Open Access and Scholarly Communication Librarian from Iowa State University, presented this work to the House and Senate Education committees on February 18, 2019.

The next steps for the Iowa Open Education Action Team include disseminating survey results to all colleges and building a network of OER state stakeholders and resources.

Please contact Chris Russell, Education Program Consultant, at 515-725-2247, or at chris.russell@iowa.gov, with comments or questions.

Department awarded grant to drive more students to high-quality CTE programs


The Iowa Department of Education (Department) was recently awarded a grant from Advance CTE to support and expand career and technical education (CTE) in the Skilled Trades and Advanced Manufacturing, with a focus on implementing recruitment activities for parents and students across the state.

Iowa was selected through a competitive process to incorporate nationally tested messages about CTE through a variety of in-person events and virtual campaigns. This work aligns with the Future Ready Iowa goal for 70 percent of Iowa's workforce to have education or training beyond high school by 2025. Through these efforts, more Iowans will have rewarding careers in high-demand fields and employers will be able to hire the skilled workers they need.

As part of this effort, the Department has formed a Recruitment Advisory Committee (RAC) to develop the communication strategy and messaging to reach students, parents, and school counselors. Tools and resources available through Advance CTE will provide a starting point for this work. In addition, the Department has partnered with the Iowa College Access Network (ICAN) and the Iowa School Counselor Association (ISCA) to assist in disseminating campaign messaging.

Please contact Kent Seuferer, Education Program Consultant, at 515-631-9207, or at kent.seuferer@iowa.gov, with any questions.

Two discipline frameworks approved as part of Iowa's transfer major initiative

Transfer major

Two discipline frameworks, Psychology and Criminal Justice, are the first to be approved as part of the Iowa community college transfer major initiative, which aims to create clear, structured pathways for transfer students. They are designed to guide students to take program-specific coursework within their associate of arts (AA) or associate of science (AS) studies that will transfer seamlessly into related majors at four-year institutions with the goal of:

  • improving communication and transfer efficiency among institutions;
  • providing students with a defined pathway toward their academic goals;
  • supporting a more data-informed assessment/articulation process;
  • avoiding excessive credits and decreasing time to degree completion; and
  • making postsecondary education more affordable, thus reducing student debt.

The Psychology and Criminal Justice discipline frameworks were developed and vetted by Iowa community colleges and public four-year universities prior to the Transfer Major Steering Committee’s (TMSC) approval on February 8, 2019. Both of the approved discipline frameworks have a minimum of 18 discipline-relevant course credits that community colleges can offer students who intend to transfer into related baccalaureate programs at a four-year institution. This approval allows community colleges to create local transfer majors aligned with these discipline frameworks that also fulfill the AA or AS degree requirements. Once reviewed by the Department, colleges will be able to market and transcript their transfer majors.

Other discipline frameworks for business, education, agriculture, and biology are under development and should be approved within the next few months. In addition, the TMSC will host a STEM Convening on April 25, 2019, where faculty and administrators will design additional STEM-related discipline frameworks.

Please contact Chris Russell, Education Program Consultant, at 515-725-2247, or at chris.russell@iowa.gov, for more information.

Gov. Kim Reynolds signs proclamation for AmeriCorps Week


Jayne Smith, the Department’s AmeriCorps Program Director, joined other AmeriCorps directors and members across the state as Governor Kim Reynolds signed a proclamation for Iowa AmeriCorps week, March 10-17. The week, which was aligned with National AmeriCorps Week, honored AmeriCorps members, organizations, and community partners and brought awareness of how these programs transform lives and communities.

More information about AmeriCorps in Iowa is available on the Iowa Commission on Volunteer Service website. More information about how the Department’s Educate and Elevate AmeriCorps program will serve adults lacking basic skills can be found on the Department’s website.

Rollout underway for new Educate and Elevate AmeriCorps Program

Educate and Elevate

The Department has made a lot of progress since receiving an AmeriCorps state grant to support Iowa’s adult education and literacy (AEL) programs. Over the past two months, 11 locations, including 9 community colleges, have submitted applications to become host sites for the Educate and Elevate AmeriCorps program.

Educate and Elevate AmeriCorps Program Director Jayne Smith, is overseeing the implementation of the program, which includes the site recruitment and training of AmeriCorps members who will provide tutoring services and additional resources to supplement the current offerings at AEL program sites across the state. The Department is also hosting an AmeriCorps member, Abby Williams, to assist with the program launch.

The Department will provide administrative support to host sites by developing position descriptions to assist with member recruitment, posting positions on the AmeriCorps site, conducting background checks, and handling payroll. In addition, volunteer training, such as Literacy New York’s highly successful Intake-to-Outcomes online training platform, will be provided to all new AmeriCorps members. The Iowa Literacy Council, a key program partner, will issue a credential, endorsed by the Department, to all members who complete this training. AEL programs will not be charged a hosting fee or and they will not have to pay for their members’ stipends.

Please contact Jayne Smith, AmeriCorps Program Director, at 515-725-0046, or at jayne.smith@iowa.gov, for more information on becoming a host site and to learn more about the program.

Research brief highlights education and employment trends of Iowa Skilled Workforce Shortage Tuition Grant recipients


A research brief on the Iowa Skilled Workforce Shortage Tuition Grant (SWST), also referred to as the Kibbie Grant, examines trends in fund disbursements, graduation and transfer rates, and employment or continued education outcomes after credential completion for recipients.

Department researchers partnered with the Iowa College Student Aid Commission to study the impact the grant has on student success. According to findings, nursing programs have the highest number of SWST recipients, followed by automotive mechanic technology, childcare provider/assistance, welding technology, and diesel equipment technology.

The study found that SWST recipients graduated at higher rates than the overall student population and had higher rates of success, as measured by whether a student graduated, transferred, or a combination of the two, within three years of entry. Additionally, SWST recipients were more likely to remain in Iowa and earned higher wages. Overall, the findings demonstrate that SWST is making a difference in growing Iowa’s skilled workforce.

For more information about the research, contact Paula Nissen, Lead Consultant, at paula.nissen2@iowa.gov, or at 515-418-8273.

Development of two new career pathways underway


The Department, under the guidance of the Sector Partnership Leadership Council (SPLC) and in support of the Future Ready Iowa initiative, has identified the building trades and transportation, distribution, and logistics (TDL) as the next two industries for career pathway exploration and development. Career pathways organize education and training into coherent, stackable sequences aligned with specific occupations within a given industry. In that way, career pathways support an individual in developing the personal, technical, and employability skills required for advancement within an industry, and transitioning from training and education into the workforce.

The 2019 building trades project started with an exploratory industry survey in February, and will be followed by in-person employer focus groups around the state in May, with an anticipated finished product release in July. The 2019 TDL project will begin soon after, with an exploratory survey in July, focus groups in September, and a finished product in November.

The Department has set a goal of developing two career pathway resources per year in order to help draw attention to the wide range of exciting and fulfilling career opportunities within these high-demand industries. Similar projects have been completed as public/private collaborations for Advanced Manufacturing, Health Science, Information Technology, and Energy and Utilities.

Visit SectorPartnerships.EducateIowa.gov to learn more about these past projects, download finished materials, and review opportunities to participate in future projects.

Please contact Joe Collins, Sector Partnership and Career Pathways Consultant, at 515-725-0646, or at joe.collins@iowa.gov with comments or questions.

New reports provide overview of state programs, education and employoment outcomes


The Department recently released four research reports to provide an overview of programs and the impact they have on students and the state.

The Gap Tuition Assistance Program Outcomes Report provides an overview of student demographics, enrollment, completion, and employment outcomes of participants in Gap-supported programs during academic years 2015-16 and 2016-17. This state program provides tuition assistance and career guidance to help eligible participants receive noncredit training in high-demand occupations at all 15 of Iowa's community colleges. The study found that in some cases, participants doubled their wages in the first quarter following the completion of their program, while many others decided to continue their education.

The Joint Enrollment Report provides trend data on joint enrollment, including headcount, credit hours taken, student demographics, and enrollment by program type and offering arrangement. The study found that student enrollment increased 2.3 percent in academic year 2017-18, with a record high of 50,001 unduplicated jointly enrolled high school students. Overall, joint enrollment accounted for 38.9 percent of total community college enrollment and 23.1 percent of total credit hours.

The Industry “Credential-Ready” Students research brief examines the various industry credentials earned by credit students at Iowa’s community colleges for the 2017-18 academic year (AY 2017-18), as well as coursework taken that is required for third-party certificate or licensure. The study found that during AY 2017-18, a total of 5,437 unduplicated students were determined to be “credential-ready” throughout the state, with 1,183 of these students being jointly enrolled high school students.

The Iowa Community College Completers and Leavers: A Comparative Analysis analyzes the impact of accumulated credit hours, program of study, and the industry of employment on success in the workforce for Iowa community college students who completed or left their community college program within academic year 2015-16. The study confirms that completers, overall, fare better in employability and wages in every award category. However, leavers with a significant number of earned credits demonstrated comparable earnings in certain fields.

Iowa Clearinghouse for Work-Based Learning scheduled to launch July 1

student at computer

The Iowa Clearinghouse for Work-Based Learning is on track to launch on July 1. Established by Governor Kim Reynolds through an executive order, the clearinghouse will be a virtual space where business partners will post projects for Iowa K-12 students to gain in-depth work experience, bringing real-world application into the schools.

Educators, administrators, business and industry stakeholders, representatives from nonprofit organizations, and education experts representing all sectors of higher education in Iowa were appointed by Governor Reynolds to serve on the Iowa Clearinghouse for Work-Based Learning Advisory Board to guide this work. The board recently met on March 13 to check site progress, review resources for business partners and educators, discuss interest survey results, and develop communication plans.

The Iowa Clearinghouse for Work-Based Learning is a joint venture of the Iowa Department of Education, Iowa Workforce Development, and Iowa Area Education Agencies (AEA) Learning Online. This work to expand high-quality, real-world experiences for K-12 students is in line with the Future Ready Iowa goal that calls for 70 percent of Iowans to have education or training beyond high school by 2025.

More information about the Iowa Clearinghouse for Work-Based Learning will be available on the Future Ready Iowa website. In addition, please contact Jake Welchans, Project Manager, at jake.welchans@iowa.gov, or at 515-281-5494, with comments or questions.

Getting down to business

High School of Business

They’re brewing up business at the Go-Hawk On the Go coffee shop at Waverly-Shell Rock Senior High School. But make no mistake, this student-run business is more than a convenient stop for students to get their caffeine fix. The coffee shop, and its accompanying senior-year business strategies class, is the capstone that students have been working toward since their freshman year.

It is all a part of the school’s High School of Business, a rigorous, business-focused curriculum with accelerated content designed to prepare students for running an actual business. Students who complete the full program earn 12 college credits through Hawkeye Community College. Waverly-Shell Rock business teachers and administrators work with the college to ensure the program meets all credentialing standards. Hawkeye’s dean of business and applied technologies also sits on the program’s steering committee, along with other business and postsecondary professionals, to help guide the program.

Read More

Why students need to be globally competitive

Brooks Harper

National college and career readiness expert, Brooks Harper, was the keynote speaker at the Iowa Work-Based Learning Coordinators Conference, which was held in Des Moines on April 2-3.

Harper draws from his 15 years in of leadership experience in corporate America in helping students and professionals across the country discover, develop, market, and sell their talents and abilities. In doing so, he connects the dots between today’s decisions and tomorrow’s college and career options.

Here, Harper reflects on today’s globally competitive workforce and the importance of preparing students academically, technically, and emotionally to succeed in college and careers.

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Career opportunities within the Division

join our team

The Department is seeking talented individuals who are passionate about excellence in education to fill several positions over the next few months within the Division of Community Colleges and Workforce Preparation (Division).

The Division recently interviewed applicants for a CTE Consultant for Business and Information Solutions and will be conducting interviews for an Adult Education and Literacy Consultant and a CTE Consultant for Skilled Trades and Advanced Manufacturing over the next month. In addition, a Community College Generalist should be posted within the next month for a summer start.

To learn more about these opportunities, please contact Jeremy Varner, Administrator, Division of Community Colleges and Workforce Preparation, at jeremy.varner@iowa.gov, or at 515-281-8260.