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Sierra College Rates High in 2012 Accountability Reporting

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The results are in for the 2012 State Accountability Reporting for the California Community Colleges (ARCC) and Sierra College rates are high when placed with its peer colleges.

What is the ARCC and what does this rating mean?

California State Assembly Bill AB1417 (Pacheco) [Chapter 581, Statutes of 2004] required the Board of Governors of the California Community Colleges to recommend to the Legislature and Governor a workable structure (framework) for annual evaluation of community college performance in meeting statewide educational outcome priorities. Pursuant to AB 1417, the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office worked with community college institutional researchers and an external panel of nationally recognized experts in higher education accountability to develop the mandated performance evaluation structure, now called Accountability Reporting for the Community Colleges, or ARCC.

The report provides an overview of system performance on specific indicators (transfer, vocational certificates, participation, etc.), along with college demographics and college performance on certain indicators (transfer, ESL, basic skills, vocational, etc).

The Chancellor’s Office issued the first ARCC report in 2007 and the report is updated annually every March. Each college has opportunities to review a draft of the report and resubmit data if needed. Additionally, each college can submit to the Chancellor’s Office a self-assessment regarding its performance, and the annual report includes these self-assessments.

Sierra College serves the growing population of Placer and Nevada counties, offering 90 degrees and certificates and enrolling almost 30,000 students each year. In order to provide quality education, the College takes seriously the measurement of outcomes. This ARCC Report indicates that the College is doing very well, when compared with overall state results, with those of its peer groups, and with its own efforts in previous years.

When placed with its peer colleges, (all of which tend to perform above overall state rates), Sierra’s results are above the peer average in all seven ARCC categories for the first time since ARCC was instituted. The key “SPAR” rate (Student Progress and Achievement) shows a welcome increase of 4%, even after a 3.5% increase in last year’s report. This score is a combination of measures of transfer status and receipt of degrees and certificates.  All of the other ARCC measures, save one, either improved or remained steady. The only internal rate to go down more than one-half a percentage point in the past year is the “Improvement Rate” for Basic Skills courses, a measure of progress through two or more courses in the Basic Skills series. Although the rate fell 1%, it remains 5% higher than the average for its peer group of colleges. 

The most robust improvement of all of the ARCC measures this year was in the “ESL Improvement Rate,” which gauges the percentage of students succeeding in ESL (English as Second Language) by climbing two or more levels. While the peer group average was 49% improvement, Sierra’s reached 66% last year. The ESL Department believes that its increased use of and training for tutors, which began in spring 2010, has contributed to this progress.

The ARCC results, are evidence of the quality of the education Sierra College is providing, however the fact remains that due to State budget cuts, the number of students the College has been allowed to serve in the last year is 7% lower than the previous year and 11% lower than two years ago. In these difficult economic times, Sierra College is not financially able to meet the growing needs of the community members, whose service is the mission of this Institution. 

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