Voices and Viewpoints

Pathways to Results Identified as Tool to Advance Equity in Illinois Community Colleges

by Marci Rockey / Oct 3, 2018

The Forum for Excellence in Illinois is designed to be the premier professional development event for both Career and Technical Education (CTE) and adult education practitioners in the state. The Forum is sponsored by the Illinois Community College Board (ICCB) and hosted by the Illinois Center for Specialized Professional Support (ICSPS), Southern Illinois Professional Development Center (SIPDC), and Central Illinois Adult Education Service Center (CIAESC). This year’s conference featured multiple sessions that highlighted the work of practitioners who are participating in Pathways to Results (PTR) projects and initiatives.

Moving Equity Beyond Inquiry through PTR included preliminary findings from a research study conducted by the Office of Community College Research and Leadership (OCCRL) to understand the ways in which community college practitioners statewide have experienced PTR as a vehicle to move from data-driven inquiry to equity-guided change. These preliminary findings revealed the challenges and opportunities experienced by team leaders in advancing equity-mindedness at the individual, team, and institutional levels. Study participants described their own development as it relates to being equity-minded, and the challenges associated with effectively using and interpreting data to identify solutions to address equity gaps. The PTR process was identified as creating opportunities for collaboration and continuous improvement, especially as it relates to CTE program review.

A practical example of PTR as a tool to conduct program review was presented by Rock Valley College (RVC) during a session titled Scaling Pathways to Results: A New Approach. RVC was selected in 2017 as a grant recipient of the PTR Implementation Communities. College representatives identified the ways in which PTR had supported the creation of a more meaningful program review process for CTE programs. Building on the PTR tools and integrating them with additional evaluative methods, RVC has implemented a five-year review cycle that annually alternates the focus areas of equity and pathways with relevancy and innovation. The team members noted that their secrets of success included strong administrative leadership and collaboration with both internal and external stakeholders. Specifically, CTE program advisory committees were restructured to enhance collaborative engagement between faculty and area employers.

Additional sessions presented by OCCRL included the kick-off meeting for this year’s PTR Implementation Communities teams from Black Hawk College, City Colleges of Chicago Harold Washington College, and Sauk Valley Community College, as well as Micro What? Micro-Aggressions and the Impact on Faculty, Staff, and Students. For more resources on understanding and addressing microaggressions on campus, please see OCCRL’s microaggressions webinar series

Photo taken by Marci Rockey with permission. Photo includes Rock Valley College staff. Left to right, Amanda Smith, dean of Transitional Opportunities and Career Education; Heather Snider, vice president of Institutional Research and Effectiveness; and Dr. Lisa Mehlig, vice president of Academic Affairs.

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