Priorities that the Texas Association of Community Colleges is outlining for the next legislative session will mark the “the most comprehensive” set of goals the association has ever articulated, a TACC spokesman said.
TACC's goals address issues like transfer policies between community colleges and state institutions, how much funding community colleges receive and ensuring that community colleges are properly training students to enter the Texas workforce.
The priorities to be presented at Thursday's meeting of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board are the result of TACC’s annual outlining of legislative goals. Each January, TACC decides on a few areas it thinks should be addressed and works to incorporate them into the subsequent legislative agenda.
But the current recommendations are broader, TACC spokesman Steven Johnson said, in part because of the national discussion for community colleges to “reinvent and talk about” the schools in a “more cohesive kind of way.”
The TACC's priorities do not need higher ed board approval, but TACC's presentation to the board indicates a recognition of the importance of both agencies and a desire for the two to communicate through the legislative session, Johnson said.
Emphasizing transfer policies and articulation agreements is particularly relevant because of statewide confusion regarding how students can transfer between community colleges and state institutions, he said.
Articulation agreements — made between community colleges and state universities — ensure that students can transfer credits when switching institutions. But currently, Johnson said, people are “frustrated with the patchwork of articulation agreements” between community colleges and other state schools.
Other goals — like properly funding community colleges and preparing students to be employed in Texas — could translate into state policies and legislation as well, though Johnson did not specify what examples of those might be.
Some of these areas represent goals the state has already been working toward, Johnson said. But outlining these areas as TACC priorities can help direct state lawmakers to emphasize them when determining policy, he said, especially “on the funding side.”
“Lots of this plan are things that are being talked about,” he said. “But we wanted to say, ‘Okay, if we’re going to make these kinds of decisions, we want every decision to feed back and see how can we make students more successful.’”