This February, San Antonio College was nationally ranked 8th in Hispanic enrollment at community colleges and 20th in associate degrees awarded to Hispanics by Hispanic Outlook. That San Antonio College was compared against multi-college districts makes its accomplishment especially significant.
Alamo Colleges System
San Antonio College is one of five individually accredited colleges in the Alamo Colleges’ system; its sister colleges are St. Philip’s College, Palo Alto College, Northwest Vista College and Northeast Lakeview College. When evaluated as a cohesive college system, the Alamo Colleges is a major force in Hispanic student college enrollment and degree attainment, both statewide and nationally.
The Alamo Colleges is one of the nation’s largest post-secondary institutions, with a total enrollment of over 60,000 credit and 20,000 non-credit students in fall 2015. Approximately 61 percent of the Alamo Colleges’ total credit enrollment, over 37,000 students, are Hispanic. Collectively, the Alamo Colleges served the largest number of Hispanic students in the nation among community colleges. Additionally, the Alamo Colleges has experienced a steady 8.2 percent increase in Hispanic student enrollment over the past five years. All five of the Alamo Colleges are designated Hispanic Serving Institutions.
The Alamo Colleges recognizes that creating a well-educated future workforce is crucial to ensuring economic well-being in San Antonio. While the city’s Hispanic population is significantly larger than that of Dallas, Houston or Austin, Texas’ growing Hispanic segment of the workforce has the highest drop-out rates, lowest educational attainment rates and largest percentage of limited English proficiency. The majority, 56 percent, of Alamo Colleges’ students in developmental education are Hispanic.
Prompted by a charge from its Board of Trustees to scale across all five colleges evidence-based student success initiatives, the Alamo Colleges has articulated an assertive, transformational agenda to align disconnected secondary and postsecondary education systems; support at-risk students who have been failed by conventional systems; and reinforce the college completion/career attainment pathway. Several of the Alamo Colleges’ innovations, Alamo I-BEST, the Alamo Academies and Dual Enrollment/Early College High School, have demonstrated outstanding results for Hispanic students. Additionally, the Alamo Colleges is investing in future strategies to develop guided college and career pathways that support students as they progress to completion.
The Alamo I-BEST initiative, winner of the 2016 national Bellwether Award for innovative community college programs, provides assistance to workers and students who require basic skill development in order to succeed in technical training for high-demand occupations.
The program has significantly increased the transfer rate of adult basic and lower-level developmental education students into college credit programs.
Participants are predominantly female, and 80 percent are Hispanic. The program’s job placement rate was 72 percent, and the combined three-year persistence/completion rate was 89 percent compared to 38.1 percent for non-Alamo I-BEST students at similar academic levels.
The Alamo Academies, another Bellwether award winner, was formed through a partnership between the Alamo Colleges, area industry, public schools and the City of San Antonio to address the local skills gap. The program develops a pipeline of skilled technicians to staff new jobs and replace an aging workforce in the Aerospace, Information Technology (IT), Advanced Manufacturing and Health Career sectors.
The dual enrollment-based program provides a career pathway for high school students, many from under-served school districts, to attain industry and academic certificates that lead to high-wage jobs or to further higher education while addressing critical workforce industry needs.
The Alamo Academies’ student population is over 70 percent Hispanic. Since the program’s inception, over 1,100 graduates have received training in high-wage occupations while in high school, and 95 percent of graduates have transitioned into higher education or careers in high-demand sectors.
Dual Enrollment/Early College High School
The Alamo Colleges is committed to expanding post-secondary access and readiness among secondary students in its eight county service area. The Alamo Colleges has established 11 Early College High School (ECHS) partnerships and has scaled dual enrollment programming to all five colleges to create a college gateway for area secondary students. Research demonstrates that ECHS programs narrow and close ethnic achievement gaps based on key indicators of college readiness. Collectively, the Alamo Colleges served over 10,000 total dual enrollment students in fall 2015; 5,661 or 56 percent of which were Hispanic.
Future Strategies: AlamoADVISE/AlamoINSTITUTES
The Alamo Colleges has begun redesigning students’ educational experiences through the implementation of a stackable, guided pathways model called the AlamoINSTITUTES. The model provides clearly-defined, manageable choices with guided exploration in addition to clear roadmaps to student end goals with sequenced, connected courses. National research demonstrates that pathways increase completion rates for Hispanic and other at-risk students who need guidance, advising and extra support services to be successful. Moreover, the INSTITUTES will leverage AlamoADVISE, a proactive and intrusive case management approach designed by the Alamo Colleges to help students achieve critical milestones throughout their educational pathway.
In 2015, the Alamo Colleges awarded over 9,775 degrees - a 36 percent increase over the prior year and an all-time record for the district. Approximately 60 percent, 5,829, of Alamo Colleges’ graduates were Hispanic. This accomplishment was a direct result of over 400 faculty and staff teams at the five colleges and district working collectively to transform systems.
Over the last six years, total degrees awarded by the Alamo Colleges have increased by over 106 percent, and total Hispanic graduates across the collective Alamo Colleges’ system have increased over 104 percent. •