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Jan 17, 2012 6:31 AM

PCC one of 50 community colleges in pilot study

TUCSON - Tuesday is the first day back from winter break for Pima Community College students and they're returning to "new methods" of how their academic success will be measured. It's a new way to gauge the impact of community colleges across the nation.

Pima is one of 50 colleges taking part.

"It is very, very exciting. We are very fortunate, Chancellor Flores has been leading the way in this and so we are just very, very fortunate to be a piece of that," Says Vice Provost, Mary Ann Martinez Sanchez, PhD.

The Voluntary Framework of Accountability is a new set of guidelines proposed by the Department of Education to redefine completion rates for community colleges. The measures used now are the same as those used at four year institution like the University of Arizona.

"It is not a good representation of the types of work and the success rate of our students."

That's because many enrolled at community colleges have different goals, commitments and constraints.

"We're applying a unit of measure that doesn't reflect the kind of student and the kind of services we provide."

The new framework will show transfers, graduations and certifications as successes and will also expand the timeframe. Pima officials say this will only benefit students in years to come.

"They may not directly in their daily classes see that kind of impact, but the community itself will see that impact because they will have a better sense of the work that we do and the success rates we have."

The pilot is in the second of three phases.

Officials say almost 60 percent of students earning an undergraduate degree at the U of A in 2008-2009 had taken at least on PCC class.

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