Prior Learning Assessment
A look at some of West Hills Community College District's Ongoing Initiatives
West Hills Community College District’s Prior Learning Assessment program continues on and was recently given a soft launch in Spring 2019. The program, which allows students to earn credit for skills developed in the work force through a portfolio creation process, was marketed to the public and is now being offered to students both current and potential. At the system-level, there is momentum around credit for prior learning. The Foundation for California Community Colleges responded to a Lumina Foundation request for information. In it they proposed a 12-college coalition that included West Hills Community College District assembled for the purposes of scaling college initiatives that support adult learner degree completion. The coalition planning will soon be underway. Open Educational Resources
West Hills College Lemoore continues to be a thought leader for the use of Open Educational Resources. WHCL is currently offering two zero textbook cost degrees (Z degrees) and will soon be launching a third. The two current degrees are an Associate of Science Degree for Transfer in Psychology and an Associate of Arts Degree for Transfer in Elementary Teacher Education. An Associate’s Degree for Transfer in Sociology will be launching soon. Currently, over 40% of courses at WHCL are using OER. In the spring of 2019, 43 total ZTC courses were being offered, and 168 sections. Additionally, WHCL has saved students $743,144 in textbook costs in 2017-2018 and $1,165,138 in the 2019 school year, approximately $1.9 million total. West Hills College Coalinga is also growing its OER offerings and is working on implementing a zero textbook cost degree of its own. Achieving the Dream
West Hills College Coalinga and West Hills College Lemoore are both working heavily with Achieving the Dream to encourage student success. Achieving the Dream is a targeted reform movement geared toward student success. A network of higher education institutions, partners, and advisors, ATD is focused on helping students achieve their academic dreams. ATD uses a capacity-building framework and companion self-assessment tool that enables colleges to pinpoint their strengths and areas for improvement, integrating current efforts at the college. West Hills College Lemoore was named an ATD Leader College in January 2019. Leader college status is a designation awarded to Achieving the Dream institutions that have shown progress in improving the success of all community college students. As a Leader College, WHCL can now compete for all grant-funding learning initiatives and are expected to provide support and leadership to other schools in the ATD network. WHCL will also share what it has learned as an ATD school and what has worked for them. WHCL has been involved with ATD since 2014.
For the first time, West Hills College Coalinga became an ATD member college and held an ATD meeting this semester to outline next steps. The goal was to find a structure to bring cohesion and outcomes to current WHCC initiatives, goals and objectives. The kickoff established a kickoff committee and goals and expectations. The main goal was that in the next four years, WHCC aims to close the gap between certain student success indicators to reflect a 90% course completion with a corresponding minimum course success rate of 85%. Child Development Grant and Apprenticeships
West Hills Community College District has been awarded a $500,000 California Apprenticeship Initiative Grant, which will go toward creating new Child Development Educator apprenticeship opportunities in rural, Central California communities served by WHCCD. The grant will fund education and apprenticeship opportunities across the district’s service area.
Through West Hills, local childcare providers have committed to the creation of new, sustainable living wage child development jobs in the area, to be supported by funding from the Apprenticeship grant.
The apprenticeship pathway will offer interested jobseekers paid work while they earn their Associate of Arts degree in Child Development through West Hills College. The program’s intent is to tackle serious labor market demand for child development educators in the San Joaquin Valley’s rural communities, including increasing employment opportunities for marginalized populations.
At the time of grant writing, there were 214 vacant preschool teacher and child development educator positions listed locally, accounting for over 1,300 qualified early childhood educator job openings annually in the region.
WHCCD is also intent on creating apprenticeships in other fields through its Westside Works program.