Commentary: Pathways Project becomes a movement

Editor’s note: This is an except from the AACC 21st-Century Center.

It’s hard to believe that the American Association of Community Colleges’ Pathways Project has been underway for just over a year now. It has been a sprint for the colleges, partners, coaches and AACC staff.

Last year at this time, we were diligently putting the finishing touches on the curriculum for Pathways Institute #1 – Leadership for Transformational Change: Implementing Pathways at Scale. We now have three institutes completed and the fourth focused on teaching and learning along the pathways finalized and ready for delivery in February.

As we move forward with the development of the materials for the national project, the scaling of the Pathways model has already begun in state-based and locally funded efforts in Michigan, Ohio, Washington and Texas and with more on the way. There is not a day that goes by when we are not contacted by a college for more information about setting the stage for pathways reforms. This is not an initiative, it is a movement.

I had the great privilege of talking to each Pathways college CEO and team lead over the summer in a one-hour interview. We wanted to talk to the colleges about the progress they were making, the support that they needed in the coming year and feedback on the Institutes, the curriculum and the coaching model.

All of us were overwhelmed by the progress the colleges had made in the eight short months since being accepted into the project. These colleges were chosen because they had the strongest foundations in place for implementing guided pathways at scale by the fall 2018, but they all had a great deal of work to do to get to that lofty goal. We learned this summer that all 30 colleges will have clear and coherent structured maps for all of their academic and CTE programs implemented by fall 2018.

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About the Author

Gretchen Schmidt
Gretchen Schmidt is executive director of the AACC Pathways Project.