Student Success Scorecard: An Interview with Chancellor Harris

April 15th, 2013
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Audrey Dow
Senior Advisor

April 15, 2013| Written by: Audrey Dow, Community Affairs Director, Campaign for College Opportunity

I had an opportunity to briefly speak with Chancellor Brice Harris of the CA Community Colleges at Pierce College as the system released the new Student Success Scorecards. Here is an excerpt of our conversation:

QUESTION: Dr. Harris, what is the first thing you hope individual Community College campuses will do with the data presented in the scorecards?

My expectation is that the colleges are going to spend some time looking at this data and really digesting them. And then they’re going to begin to craft strategies that are going to accomplish two things.

First of all that will improve overall the success of students at any given college, but more importantly, they’ll focus on those performance gaps that have plagued us for quite some time and frankly that are plaguing American higher education in general.

It’s very troubling to a lot of us that in the 1960’s and 70’s we had a predominately male enrollment, and that wasn’t good. Now it’s a predominantly female enrollment, and that’s not good either. For the country to be successful, we need both men and women to succeed in higher education. The same thing could be said by race and ethnicity. The fact that African- American males or Latinos don’t succeed at rates that are equal to those of the overall student population is flat out unacceptable. We have to close those performance gaps.

QUESTION: Dr. Harris, how do you hope students and families use the new scorecard?

I think students and families are going to look at colleges individually, but this program was never designed to align colleges side by side and compare them. Because the colleges are very different, students will look at a college that has a program that they are interested in and they will look at the performance of that institution. So, I do expect not only the policy makers and the state leaders and the college leaders to look at the data but I expect that students and parents will look at this data as well.

QUESTION: Dr. Harris, what is the significance of the scorecard?

Well, it is historic and Jack Scott and the Student Success Task Force deserve a tremendous amount of credit for charting this direction. The staff, Patrick Perry, along with researchers up and down the state deserve a tremendous amount of credit. The other thing that is remarkable to me is that I have not received not one call from anybody saying, “Don’t release the data, it makes us look bad.”

I am amazed at how people are embracing a much more transparent and open and accountable approach to student success.

To see the scorecard click here.

About the Author:

Dr. Brice W. Harris was unanimously selected as the 15th chancellor of the California Community Colleges by the system’s Board of Governors in September 2012. He started on Nov. 6, 2012.

Prior to being selected as the leader of the largest system of higher education in the nation, Harris served 16 years as chancellor of the Los Rios Community College District in the Sacramento region, president of Fresno City College and a faculty member and vice chancellor in the Kansas City, Mo., community college system. the system’s Board of Governors in September 2012. He started on Nov. 6, 2012.

Click here to read his full biography.