NORMAL – Lt. Governor Sheila Simon visited Heartland Community College today, continuing her statewide campaign to increase college degree and certificate completion rates.
“Illinois is committed to increasing degree and certificate completion rates at every community college across the state,” Simon said while meeting with school administrators and faculty. “We must work together to reduce barriers to college success and create an educated workforce.”
Illinois leaders want to increase the proportion of working-age adults with college degrees or certificates to 60 percent from 41 percent by 2025. Simon is touring the state’s 48 community colleges to see completion efforts at each campus, while also compiling ideas to overcome the barriers to each college’s completion goals.
Heartland recently implemented two initiatives to engage students in coursework and foster greater achievement. The “Guided Path to Success” program, or GPS, will link the college with area K-12 institutions to ease students’ transition from high school to college and systemize career counseling. Among its outcomes will be more opportunities for high school juniors and seniors to take college-level courses and earn high school and college credit simultaneously.
“Heartland’s team is looking comprehensively at students as holistic, lifelong learners,” said Heartland President Allen Goben. “Our Heartland GPS: Guided Path to Success effort focuses considerable attention on college readiness; career, college, and life planning during pre-enrollment; college enrollment; success in courses toward graduation; and post-degree paths to success for university transfer and career opportunities. During college readiness and enrolled student success efforts, in particular, Heartland’s team is implementing national exemplary practices to strengthen basic skills in reading and developmental math. Our GPS effort is a balance between support services for students and academic development.”
In 2009, Heartland also instituted a “Read Right” program in an effort to help increase reading comprehension in students that read below the college level. All students that test at the developmental reading level are referred to the “Read Right” program, though instructors may also refer students on an as-needed basis. Students have reported improved reading skills, comprehension and confidence, though complete results have not yet been tabulated.
Like many other schools statewide, Heartland cites math and communication skill deficiencies in incoming students as a roadblock to college success and quicker completion rates. With increased communication between colleges, K-12 institutions, and the state, administrators said students could be proficient in basic skills sooner, and therefore complete college faster and without the need for remedial coursework.