Complete College America

Complete College America (CCA) is a national non-profit with the mission to work with states to significantly increase the attainment of career certificates or college degrees and to close attainment gaps for traditionally under-represented populations. Using a study of best practices and data analysis at national and individual institution levels, Complete College America works with states and individual higher ed institutions to determine current performance and to design solutions to close attainment gaps.

On November 1, 2013, academic leaders of SMHEC institutions met with CCA leaders to learn about CCA's programs. Michael Baumgartner, CCA's vice president for finance and special projects, and Larry Abele, provost emeritus and director of Florida State University's Institute for Academic Leadership, spoke about CCA's overall program and specifically about its Guided Pathways to Success. Both spoke about the problems of inadequate retention and low graduation rates and CCA's proven strategies to address those issues. Guided Pathways to Success focuses on three areas to improve student outcomes: getting the right people involved in developing solutions, using data to guide decisions, and doing the right things to support students.

SMHEC will facilitate the CCA process. First steps included convening the VP/Deans of Student Services to network ways to implement strategies as well as hiring the National Student Clearinghouse to do analysis of SMHEC institutions' performance, including student retention and graduation rates.

KnowHow2Go

KnowHow2Go is a public advocacy program developed by the American Council of Education and the Lumina Foundation for Education to educate students and their parents on the importance of a college education and the four steps critical to college readiness. SMHEC received multi-year funding from the Illinois Student Assistance Commission to support this program.

Student Transfer

Reverse transfer is the process of allowing students who transfer to a baccalaureate institution with a high number of credit hours but no degree to apply the upper division courses to the requirements needed to earn an associate degree. SMHEC is tackling the myriad of data collection, policy and procedural issues as well as the determination of which classes constitute an equal or better than substitution for a required course at another school to develop a concordance of course equivalency.

Writing Across the Institutions

In the Writing Across the Institutions project, writing practitioners come together to evaluate assessment of freshman writing. Through this project, faculty across participating institutions are adopting a shared language and agreeing about a description of 1st year writing. The impetus behind this innovative project is the drive for better assessment. Utilizing the network and structure of the existing Southland Writing Consortium and relationships between the Chief Academic Officers makes this collaboration possible. Use of the AAC&U Written Communication VALUE Rubric to score writing samples and the LiveText assessment software to collect data facilitate the process. Repeated norming sessions and facilitated discussions help institutions build consistency and clarity in their assessments.

Regional Brother2Brother chapters

Modeled after the nationally recognized Student African American Brotherhood (SAAB) program, SMHEC developed this regional peer-based academic and social integration program to assist minority males to persist and graduate from college.