Fresh Look at Nevada’s Community Colleges Task Force Recommendations

In June 2010, Chancellor Dan Klaich established a taskforce of business and community leaders in Nevada to take a “fresh look” at Nevada’s community colleges and examine:

  • Are we adequately preparing students with the skills and knowledge that will be required by employers?
  • Are the colleges truly aligned with the future employment and learning needs of Nevadans?

The taskforce became known as the “Fresh Look at Nevada’s Community Colleges Task Force,” chaired by Bruce James.

Meeting each month for a year, the Task Force examined demographic and labor forecasts; roles, missions, successes and challenges at each community college in the state; partnerships and transfer practices; and derived 10 recommendations for consideration by the Nevada System of Higher Education. Below is a summary of each of the recommendation. The full report can be found here. As a faculty, staff or student at CSN, one of the largest and I would argue most important community colleges in the nation, what do you think about these? Please post your thoughts.

1.  Create a Strategic Plan Focused on Student Learning Outcomes

Create a 10-year, statewide plan for Nevada community colleges to be updated annually, using measurable goals and focusing on student success milestones and learning outcomes.

2.  Focus on Future Technology Needs

Establish a technology board for community colleges charged with creating an annual plan for the implementation of best practices that, in turn, would meet the goals of the strategic plan (See recommendation 1.)  Furthermore, partnerships with industry, foundations, etc., would form the basis of state and local networks of advisory committees at each college.

3.  Leverage Resources to Benefit Learners

Establish a Nevada Virtual College (NVC) to deliver e-courses and programs for degree seeking students.  This would be a separate entity, from the private sector, with community college faculty providing student outcomes. Students would bear the full cost of the course.  Partnerships with other proprietary institutions and public college would be linked to NVC.

4.  Create Pathways for K-16 Learners to Succeed

Strengthen partnerships with K-12 in developing clearer pathways from high school, to college, to careers.  Embrace the new Common Core State Standards as a framework for curriculum alignment.  Reinvigorate the Nevada P-16 Advisory Council.

5.  Remake Remedial Education

Return remedial education to the high schools.  Contract adult education with the private sector.  Redirect remedial resources to expand college readiness efforts.

6.  Implement Variable Tuition Pricing

Consider pricing by highest and best use of teaching resources aligned with the state’s needs as defined by a strategic plan.  Consider pricing by semester and student type.

7.  Increase Meaningful Certificates

Better align certificates with actual career opportunities with a close partnership with the Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation (DETR).  Certificate and degree programs should be “stackable.”

8.  Expand Dual High School and College Enrollment

Expand cooperative programs that enroll prepared 11th and 12th graders simultaneously, with a 10-year goal of having a third of Nevada’s 12th graders graduating at the age of 18 with a high school diploma as well as an associate degree or certification in an occupation/technical specialty.  Consider pricing incentives for participation; deliver college-level courses through NVC.

9.  Change the State Funding Formula for Community Colleges

Re-evaluate the state funding formula for the successful completion of key milestones, courses, and completion.  Encourage enrollment of committed learners prepared for college work.

10.  Move Governance to the Source

Community colleges should be responsive to community needs.  The Board of Regents should consider delegating part of its authority to local governing councils to oversee the implementation of the Strategic Plan for Learners (again, see recommendation 1).  Each local council might have five to seven members appointed by the Board of Regents.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts and having a meaningful discussion on these recommendations. The Board of Regents will discuss the full report at their September meeting on Sept. 8 and 9 at DRI’s Las Vegas campus. The meeting will be video-streamed live and a link will be located on the CSN home page.

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