Just over 11 years ago, thanks in large part to the work of U.S. Senator (formerly State Senator) Alex Padilla, Gov. Jerry Brown approved Senate Bill 1440, the Student Transfer Achievement Reform Act. In essence, this bill created the Associate Degree for Transfer (ADT) model and marked the beginning of the “Degree with a Guarantee Program” across California.
According to an official report from the Campaign for College Opportunity, between its creation and August 2020, California Community Colleges have awarded a staggering number of ADTs: 286, 492, to be exact. This is cause for celebration, especially because the numbers just keep on growing. However, there is still much work to be done to improve transfer pathways. In particular, for students who are historically underrepresented or marginalized.
That’s why this fall, we are honored to announce that the Campaign for College Opportunity has named San José City College a 2021 Equity Champion of Higher Education for our efforts in awarding ADTs to Black and Latinx students. Let’s explore why this is such an important moment and the implications for our community.
An Introduction to Associate Degrees for Transfer (ADTs)
The major goal of SB 1440 was to repair the obstacle-ridden path that transfer students face, by creating a clear pathway with ADTs to California State Universities (CSUs). While there has been great success, it is also clear that many students still experience plenty of systemic challenges on their transfer journey. And it is also no surprise that minority and first-generation college students are up against disproportionate barriers.
While many committed transfer students do make it to a 4-year university, it is never an easy path. The research shows that only 28% of transfer-seeking students actually transfer within six years. Transfer students voice similar struggles across the board. They receive misinformation and often end up accumulating unnecessary units that don’t transfer over; they find themselves repeating classes once they do transfer; and plenty of them suffer immense (and undue) stress because of the confusing maze that is the transfer process.
What is an Equity Champion of Higher Education?
The Campaign for College Opportunity makes a point to identify and congratulate the work of campuses that are actively improving the transfer process. Not only that, but they also recognize campuses that are narrowing achievement and equity gaps.
At the Champions of Higher Education Celebration, on Tuesday, November 16, 2021, several categories of awards were given. The honor SJCC received is reserved for campuses that are awarding ADT degrees to Black and Latinx students at rates that are higher than the campus average. This is no small feat.
SJCC President Rowena Tomaneng proudly accepted the award. “SJCC would not be able to fulfill its mission, grounded in opportunity, equity, and social justice, without the collective effort of our Jaguar community,” Tomaneng said. “This recognition is also a testament to our collective efforts at becoming a student-ready college and centering our work on where the student equity gap is most wide: for black and Latinx students.”
“I am proud that our college community is committed to doing the equity walk every day and stepping up our investments in a number of programs that are intentionally designed to support black and Latinx students. Umoja, Puente, METAS, ALMASS, (for our dreamers) and others. Thank you again for this recognition,” Tomaneng said.
SJCC’s Commitment to Educational Equity
SJCC is honored to be a recipient of this award and is committed to meeting transfer students where they are, and to constantly improving transfer pathways so that all students can unleash their brilliance.