K-12 Integration, Support Key to Guided Pathways Success in California

Student reviewing high school transfer information

California’s community colleges can’t do it alone. That’s the message from higher education leaders when it comes to Guided Pathways (GP), saying K-12 systems must be integrated into the college pathways effort for progress to continue.

The stakes are enormous. A seamless transition toward Guided Pathways is critical if the California Community Colleges’ ambitious Vision for Success – which articulates a set of goals and commitments to significantly improve student outcomes – is to succeed.

Vision for Success is a roadmap to improve student outcomes, from increasing graduation and transfer rates, to eliminating equity gaps, and preparing students for in demand-careers,” said Deputy Chancellor Dr. Daisy Gonzales, whose primary duties involve implementing and tracking the commitments and goals outlined in the Vision for Success. “We will fail at implementing the Vision for Success unless we fully implement Guided Pathways. Guided Pathways is the Vision for Success.”

Among the suggestions for supporting increased commitment to, and awareness of, GP:

  • Regularly scheduled joint meetings between K-12 and community college leaders.
  • Increased opportunities for professional development introducing K-12 personnel to the nuts and bolts of GP.
  • Cross-system opportunities to connect.

A 2017 report by the Public Policy Institute of California, titled “Meeting California’s Need for College Graduates, a Regional Perspective,” argues a similar point. The report notes that the California Community Colleges system must closely coordinate its student success efforts with K-12 systems, the University of California, and California State University campuses if the state is going to produce the 1.1 million bachelor’s degree-holding workers necessary to meet employer demand, over the next 15 years, in a rapidly changing economy.

That collaboration is underway in places such as the Central Valley, through the Central Valley Higher Education Consortium, and elsewhere. The governing boards of the San Diego Community College District and San Diego Unified School District, for example, have held numerous joint meetings over the past several years. Topics covered in those meetings include expanded opportunities for concurrent enrollment, promotion of student success from pre-kindergarten through college, and alignment of workforce training programs.

“These joint meetings represent an opportunity for our two districts to evaluate the progress we have made and make additional plans to ensure students are prepared for both higher education and the workforce,” said San Diego Community College District Chancellor Constance M. Carroll.

Added Gonzales: “We forget that data doesn’t drive change – people do. We need strong leadership, committed to Guided Pathways, in K-12 and in higher education. Parents just want to see their children graduate and be successful and get good jobs. We should all be working collaboratively in our local communities and at the state level.”

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