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Promising Practices Briefing Reports (April 2016)

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Promising Practices is a group of three briefing reports aimed at leaders in community colleges and the workforce development field. These reports highlight innovative capacity-development initiatives that increase the ability for students – especially low-income and traditionally underserved students – to access and succeed in programs offered by community colleges.

Published in April 2016, the Promising Practices briefing reports are part of a series of reports and tools jointly published by the Aspen Institute Workforce Strategies Initiative and Achieving the Dream. The series is based on cases from a group of seven community colleges included within the US Department of Labor Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training grant consortium. AspenWSI and Achieving the Dream managed the grant consortium’s peer learning community from 2013 to 2016, and observed several innovative practices during that time. The Promising Practices briefing reports are based on those observations, as well as interviews, data reports, and document reviews with the colleges.

We invite all community college and workforce development leaders, as well as those interested in improving career education for low- and moderate-income workers, to read these briefing reports.


Promising Practices - Northern Virginia Community College Northern Virginia Community College’s Comprehensive Solution to the Adult College Completion Challenge: In 2011, Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) launched a new Adult Career Pathways (ACP) initiative to enable more low-income adult students to access and succeed in career studies programs. Over its first three years, the ACP program grew rapidly to serve more than 1,000 adult studentswho consistently achieved high rates of college success and persistence towards a credential. The ACP program demonstrates that community colleges can successfully enroll and serve low-income adult students on a significant scale and maintain success rates.


Promising Practices - The Power of Pell Mott Community College’s Use of Federal Aid to Train Unemployed Workers and Dissolve Silos Between Credit and Noncredit: In response to declining public funding for noncredit workforce programs, Mott Community College took the unusual step of awarding Pell “Clock Hour” grants to students in two noncredit health care certificate programs. These Pell “Clock Hour” grants allowed unemployed workers to continue to re-train for new health care careers at no cost. While the College succeeded in leveraging substantial Pell funds, this strategy also has begun to bridge the institutional divide between the college’s credit and noncredit departments. Mott Community College’s experience in gaining Pell Grant eligibility for noncredit programs can provide a basic roadmap to help other colleges develop more sustainable noncredit training programs in full compliance with federal requirements, and increase access and success for traditionally underserved students.


Promising Practices - Flipping the Classroom Flipping the Classroom – Austin Community College’s Blended, Interactive Approach to Strengthening Student Progression:  Seeking to boost student success in health sciences, Austin Community College’s (ACC) Biology Department set out to fundamentally change how students learn and master prerequisite course material. Faculty members re-designed three traditional lecture courses by introducing web-based modules and coupling them with class sessions devoted primarily to student-led, small group activities. Data reports from ACC show that an increasing proportion of students are choosing to enroll in the “flipped” versions of these classes and are succeeding at higher rates than traditional versions of the same classes.


Thanks to the US Department of Labor and Northern Virginia Community College’s Credentials to Careers TAACCCT consortium for supporting this important work. 

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