Reporter’s notebook

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  • Info sessions on proposed new NSF directorate
  • Florida college receives ATD’s Leah Meyer Austin Award 
  • A bump in ESLN students

Info sessions on proposed new NSF directorate 

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is preparing to create a new directorate for technology, innovation and partnerships that would open additional funding opportunities for community colleges.

The new post is proposed in the president’s fiscal year 2022 budget request and would require authorization from Congress. Among the new directorate’s goals would be to “create education pathways for every American to pursue new, high-wage jobs, supporting a diverse workforce of researchers, practitioners, and entrepreneurs,” according to an NSF fact sheet

NSF is beginning the process by sharing information about the proposal and getting input from stakeholders, including community colleges. Over the next several weeks, it will hold virtual small-group discussions with various sectors. The meeting for community colleges on March 3 is full (email engage@nsf.gov to get on a mailing list), but there are other sessions for historically Black colleges and universities (February 24), Hispanic-serving institutions (February 25), and tribal colleges and universities (March 1) that qualifying community colleges can join.

Florida college receives ATD’s Leah Meyer Austin Award 

Tallahassee Community College (TCC) has received the 2022 Leah Meyer Austin Award from Achieving the Dream (ATD). The prestigious prize is given annually to a college in the ATD network that demonstrates institutional strength, aligned policies and procedures, a student-focused culture, notable increases in student outcomes and reduction of equity gaps.

TCC has focused on closing equity gaps around transfer and four-year degree attainment, according to ATD. For example, the proportion of Hispanic students who transferred and earned a four-year degree within six years increased 6 percentage points, from 32% (2012 cohort) to 38% (2014 cohort). Over four years, four-year completion rates for Hispanic students increased by 15 percentage points and were equal to those of white students for the fall 2016 cohort. 

In gateway math courses, completion rates increased 9 percentage points, from 25% to 34%, for students who received Pell grants between 2017 and 2020, ATD reported.

North Central State College in Ohio and Grayson College in Texas received special recognition from ATD for their efforts. 

A bump in ESLN students

A federal grant to increase enrollment post-Covid has yielded results at California’s College of the Desert (COD), where signups for English as a Second Language noncredit (ESLN) courses dramatically increased for the spring semester.

The number of students enrolled in the ESLN program jumped from 730 in spring 2021 to 1,502 in spring 2022 – an increase of more than 105%, according to the college.

COD says it tapped a U.S. Education Department grant to offer students $150 per ESLN course for the spring 2022 semester that they can use for books, tuition, living expenses and other essentials.

“ESLN courses are a powerful tool for students who want to develop the language skills they need to accomplish their goals, whether that’s obtaining their GED or vocational certificate or advancing in their career,” Superintendent/President Martha Garcia said in a release.

The ESLN program offers six levels of English and three certificates: the English Proficiency Certificate for English language skills needed in day-to-day living and working situations; the Academic English Certificate for students who are planning on pursuing a college degree or vocational certificate; and the Certificate of Completion in Vocational ESLN for those seeking employment in a variety of fields.

About the Author

Matthew Dembicki
Matthew Dembicki edits Community College Daily and serves as associate vice president of communications for the American Association of Community Colleges.