State Report Cautious About Expanding Four-Year Degrees at California Community Colleges

A recent report by the California Legislature's independent policy office suggests the state be cautious as it considers expanding four-year degree programs at community colleges, reports Inside Higher Ed.

The report stated: "Given numerous concerns about program selection and consultation, a lack of any graduation or work-force outcomes to date and problems in financial reporting, the Legislature may wish to exercise caution in expanding the bachelor’s degree pilot program in advance of the final evaluation."

The state received the legislature's approval in 2014 to begin a pilot program of bachelor's degree programs at 15 community colleges, as long as those programs didn't duplicate offerings at the state's public universities, reported Inside Higher Ed. The move was an effort to address a shortage of workers with bachelor's degrees. Ten of the 15 community colleges began offering four-year degrees in 2016; the rest began last fall.

According to the report, more time and data are needed to fully evaluate the pilot program. The report raises concerns that community colleges are offering bachelor's degrees in areas where "state licensing and industry certification do not require a bachelor's degree." It also highlighted benefits of the program, such as employers reporting that the new degrees lead to more nuanced job preparation and that they were extending early job offers to students. 

Another evaluation of the program is due later this year; a final evaluation is expected in 2022.


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