Archive for the ‘SPC’ Category

Achieving the DreamThis week, St. Petersburg College officials co-hosted a webinar entitled When Legislation Changes the Game: The New Playbook for Responding to Remedial Need for fellow Achieving the Dream (ATD) institutions.

Part of the ATD’s Technology Solutions Webinar series, the 45-minute presentation featured Jesse Coraggio, SPC’s Vice President for Institutional Effectiveness & Academic Services; Joseph Leopold, SPC’s Director of Learning Resources and Christa Ehmann Powers, Vice President & Chief Academic Officer for Pearson’s online tutoring service Smarthinking.

During the webinar, Coraggio shared how leaders at SPC got ahead of the 2014 Florida law that overhauled developmental education and now exempts most younger students from taking college prep courses although they may need them. To promote student success, SPC devised a new approach to identifying students’ remedial needs, advising students on their options, and integrating campus-based support and online services, such as Smarthinking.

Students exempt from developmental education are placed in flexible placement tracks, which allows college advisors to recommend courses based on predictive models using mainly high school and/or military records.

“We wanted to build a system to give students as much information as possible and wanted to make sure everyone had a good idea of what this legislation was about, and how we were approaching it,” Coraggio said. “We were able to accomplish a lot in a very short period of time by making sure we were focused on helping our students as the legislation became enacted.”

In 2011, with help from a state grant, SPC began offering free modular courses or Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), aimed at preparing students for college-level reading, writing and math courses. It then began focusing on integrating five high-impact practices that would become known as the College Experience, which has proven invaluable to student success. SPC employees monitor the results of these five measures each week in an effort to provide the best support to students.

So far, SPC students have increased their use of out-of-classroom support at Learning Centers by 47 percent and Smarthinking by 16 percent. SPC students who seek out-of-class support at least ten times in a semester have an 80 percent chance of completing the course with a “C” or better.

While most students receive tutoring services in person at SPC campuses, 10 percent use Smarthinking, which provides critical support for students who may not be on a campus.

“Providing students with adequate out-of-class supports is important for any college, but it’s especially critical in an environment where students have the ability to forego developmental education that they might truly need,” Leopold said. “It’s also important that these supports are available in delivery formats that work for students. Our Virtual Learning Commons offers a simple, streamlined way to connect students to out-of-class support they need and is available both on grounds and online.”

For Fall 2014, 70.5 percent of the students who took courses that college advisors recommended were successful compared to a success rate of 55 perecent among students who did not take the recommended courses.


Coraggio cautioned that it’s often difficult to “convince students they need to remain in remedial education despite all the information we provide them. At the end of the day we see the lower success rates and we just need to find a way to help these students be successful.”

For its ongoing work on student success, in 2012 SPC joined the Achieving the Dream National Reform Network. It is considered the nation’s most comprehensive non-governmental reform network for student success in higher education history. Currently more than 200 colleges from 36 states are among its members.

In September, Achieving the Dream named SPC a Leader College. This is a national designation awarded to community colleges that commit to improving student success and closing achievement gaps. SPC was the only college in Florida selected to receive the designation this year.

Check out the entire webinar

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During 2014-15, Florida’s prison system has been rocked by a series of stories in state newspapers exposing a pattern of brutality, corruption and cover-ups in Florida prisons. The stories detailed gruesome incidents of prisoner abuse and deaths at the hands of correctional officers in an agency experiencing multiple years of high turnover, chronic understaffing, and budget woes.

prison-reformGov. Rick Scott named a new Secretary of the Department of Corrections in late 2014 – the fourth DOC secretary in four years – to clean up what was described as “a culture of corruption” in the prison system.

Now, a year later, what progress has Corrections Secretary Julie Jones made in the way of prison reform? What efforts are underway to advance public safety and improve the conditions of confinement in Florida’s prisons? What more needs to be done?

A panel of experts will seek answers to those questions at a dinner forum sponsored by the Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions at St. Petersburg College on Dec. 1. The forum, titled Florida’s Prisons: How Goes Reform?, will be from 6 to 8:15 p.m. at the Seminole Campus Conference Center, 9200 113th St. N. it is co-sponsored by the Tampa Bay Times and WEDU Television. Advance registration is required.

The panel will include Stacy Arias, Chief of Staff of the Department of Corrections; Julie Brown, the Miami Herald investigative reporter whose articles broke open the prison scandal, and former Florida Attorney General Richard Doran, who serves as Executive Committee Chairman for the Project on Accountable Justice (PAJ).

The forum represents the culmination of work done by PAJ to address prison reform over the last three years. A collaboration of St. Petersburg College, Florida State University, Baylor University and Tallahassee Community College, the project’s researchers analyzed the Florida system’s performance data and comparative analysis of best practices in other states. SPC’s Strategic Policy Institute also conducted three public forums in St. Petersburg and Tallahassee to gather input from experts.

Last spring, the project made five reform recommendations aimed at reducing recidivism, cutting prison costs, increasing professional standards, improving employee morale and creating independent oversight of prison operations – lack of which was cited as a contributing factor to inmate abuse, corruption, and systemic weaknesses. Legislation incorporating some of those recommendations was left in limbo when the House adjourned three days early, without voting on the prison reform legislation.

Tickets for the dinner and program are $25 for the general public, $20 for students and educators. Advance registration is required at http://solutions.spcollege.edu. For further information, call 727-394-6942.

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St. Petersburg College has been selected as one of only 30 community colleges in the nation to participate in a three-year intensive Pathways Project, led by the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC).

Supported by funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Pathways Project will help build capacity for community colleges to design and implement high-quality, structured academic and career pathways for all students, aligned for both university transfer and jobs with value in the labor market.

“The development of our Academic and Career Pathways Program has been a priority initiative at St. Petersburg College over the last few years, and we are honored to be recognized as a leader in this area,” said SPC President Bill Law. “This designation builds on the work we’ve done to implement meaningful support systems to help students successfully earn degrees and certifications more quickly – while mitigating debt burdens – so they can find gainful employment and boost their earnings. We know these systematic steps change students’ lives and benefit our community in countless ways.”


Pathways Project, led by the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC)

This fall, SPC successfully launched 184 academic and career pathways within 95 certificate, associate and bachelor degree programs that were developed to provide students with a logical sequence of courses offerings and embedded programmatic certificates and industry recognized certifications.

The purpose is to provide students with a clear and concise roadmap to graduation, while allowing them to earn stackable credentials along the way that can increase their earning potential. While the pathways provide students guidance on the most effective sequencing and number of classes to take each semester – as well as clarity regarding which semester courses are offered – students still have a great deal of flexibility in their choices.

The pathways include comprehensive wraparound support services and a robust integration of curriculum designed with input from with local industry leaders to ensure students are workforce ready at graduation.

“We have taken the guesswork out of course selection to ensure that students can achieve academic milestones more quickly, so they can get into the workforce or move up in their careers sooner,” said Jesse Coraggio, SPC’s Vice President of Institutional Effectiveness and Academic Services. “Pathways are going to revolutionize the way students progress along their academic journeys, and allow them to gain credentials along the way that will help them earn more in their respective fields.”

St. Petersburg College is one of only four colleges in the state to be selected for the program. The others include Broward College, Indian River State College and Tallahassee Community College.

Building on emerging research and experience in the field, the project reflects AACC’s commitments to follow through on recommendations set forth in the 2012 report of the 21st Century Commission on the Future of Community Colleges, Reclaiming the American Dream, and the 2014 implementation guide, Empowering Community Colleges to Build the Nation’s Future.

Since 2012, St. Petersburg College has focused on improving student success by using intensive and collegewide analysis of student data. SPC created the College Experience, an ambitious series of five core student success interventions that were simultaneously executed based on the belief that in order to truly identify and address barriers to student achievement, the college must employ a holistic and comprehensive strategy. Among those efforts, career counseling and academic planning were integrated to provide students clear educational paths that lead to employment. SPC’s Academic and Career Pathways Program is the culmination of those efforts.

College Experience support services and interventions have resulted in successfully increasing student achievement across the board, and in particular for First-Time-In-College (FTIC) students and African American and Hispanic males. This kind of analysis allows for SPC to better understand student performance over time – analyzing how students are performing and why, and which students are falling behind and when – to focus efforts where large-scale gains can be attained.

As part of the AACC Pathways Project, SPC will collaborate with institutions that have complementary goals and student success-centered practices that could be scaled or replicated. As part of the project, SPC will work with Pathways Project colleges to determine:

  • how students experience and understand program pathways, and the career and further education opportunities to which they lead
  • how prescriptive should colleges be regarding students’ program-related decisions
  • what supports help students choose and enter a program of study efficiently
  • the costs to redesign colleges’ new student intake processes to help students better choose and enter a program of study

“I truly believe SPC’s Academic and Career Pathways Program is a ‘game-changer’ for our students,” Law said. “So, we are particularly excited to share what we’ve learned, have the opportunity to learn from others, and collaborate with colleges and partnering institutions to help develop a sustainable model for educational institutions across the nation.”

Six institutes will be held over the course of the three-year program. A team of five SPC representatives will attend the first of the AACC institutes in San Antonio, Texas in February, 2016.

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MTN-2015St. Petersburg College, nationally recognized for using data-driven strategies to increase student achievement, will host its second annual Moving the Needle Conference, Oct. 28-30 at the Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront, 333 First St. S, St Petersburg.

The event begins with registration at 1 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 28, followed by a Welcome and Introduction at 2 p.m., a keynote address at 3:15 and a reception at 5:30 p.m. Panels, sessions and workshops continue from 8:15 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 29, and from 8:15 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 30.  The event is not open to the public, but members of the media are invited to attend.

The conference is designed for postsecondary leadership teams to engage in collaborative discussions and methods regarding the improved use of data leading to student success. More than 200 postsecondary educators from across the country are expected to attend.

St. Petersburg College has become a leader in using data to drive student success initiatives that can be monitored and adjusted in real-time. The college uses a robust business intelligence system that was designed in-house to enable faculty, staff and college leaders to make evidence-based decisions. For these efforts, SPC received a 2014 Florida College System Chancellor’s Best Practice Award and has been named a 2015 Leader College by Achieving the Dream. Additionally, college leaders have been invited to speak about SPC’s data-driven culture by the Aspen Institute and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

“We have been using data to inform our work with students for several years and have seen some amazing successes,” said Dr. Jesse Coraggio, conference organizer and St. Petersburg College Associate Vice President of Institutional Effectiveness and Academic Services. “We’re excited to share those proven best practices and collaborate with others on data-driven strategies that can benefit students in Florida and all across the country.”

Conference topics include:

  • Creating a responsive and ‘nimble’ organizational culture
  • Creating and employing data tools and dashboards
  • Building a data-driven culture
  • Using data to improve academic success
  • Employing high impact practices within student support services
  • Employing shared governance, responsibility and transparency practices

Two keynote panels will be held. The first, focusing on using data to improve student success will be facilitated by Dr. Mark Milliron, Co-Founder and Chief Learning Officer of Civitas Learning. Panelists are:

  • Dr. Chris Bustamante, President of Rio Salado College, Tempe, Ariz.
  • Dr. Paul Dosal, Vice-Provost of Student Services at the University of South Florida, Tampa
  • Laura Mercer, Director of Research, Analytics, and Reporting for Sinclair Community College, Dayton, Ohio

Dr. Davis Jenkins, Senior Research Associate for the Community College Research Center, will facilitate the second keynote panel comprised of:

  • Dr. Joyce Walsh-Portillo, Associate Vice-President of Academic Affairs for Broward College, Fort Lauderdale
  • Wendi Dew, Assistant Vice-President of Teaching and Learning for Valencia College, Orlando
  • Sabrina Crawford, Executive Director of Institutional Research and Effectiveness at St. Petersburg College

For more information about the conference, including the full agenda, please visit the Moving the Needle website.

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Achieving the DreamAchieving the Dream today announced St. Petersburg College (SPC) earned Leader College distinction – a national designation awarded to community colleges that commit to improving student success and closing achievement gaps. St. Petersburg College has shown how data can inform policy and practice to help community college students achieve their goals, resulting in improved skills, better employability, and economic growth for families, communities, and the nation as a whole. SPC was the only college in Florida selected to receive the designation this year.

“It is a wonderful honor for St. Petersburg College to be selected by Achieving the Dream as a Leader College,” said St. Petersburg College President Bill Law. “The commitment – and success – that we have seen on behalf of our students reflects the real excellence of our faculty and staff. Making sure that all students can achieve their academic goals is our commitment.  When accomplishments such as ours are recognized, everyone feels good.”

The college was recognized for its efforts to narrow achievement gaps and improve student success rates. From Fall 2011 to Fall 2013, SPC saw course success rates (identified as an A, B or C grade) for First-Time-In-College (FTIC) African American students in all enrolled courses increase by 8 percentage points, while Hispanic students increased 9.1 percentage points. Additionally, St. Petersburg College saw increases in student persistence rates, particularly among minority FTIC students.

The college attributes those increases to its “College Experience,” a collegewide initiative comprised of five core student support measures: new student orientation; integrated academic and career advising; student learning plans; early alerts and student coaching system; and out of classroom supports. The initiative is bolstered through SPC’s business intelligence system, “Pulse BI,” and its robust dashboards. “Pulse BI,” which was designed in-house, allows faculty, staff and college leaders to monitor student data in real-time to make evidence-based decisions.

“Becoming a Leader College is very powerful and affirms the exceptional work and commitment of faculty and staff to their students’ success,” said Achieving the Dream Vice President for Community College Relations Cindy Lenhart. “St. Petersburg College is using evidence to make informed decisions that lead to significant institutional change.”

The 2015 Achieving the Dream Leader Colleges are:


Bakersfield College

(Bakersfield, CA)

Kingsborough Community College

(Brooklyn, NY)

Bellingham Technical College

(Bellingham, WA)

Lorain County Community College

(Elyria, OH)

Century College

(White Bear Lake, MN)

Muskegon Community College

(Muskegon, MI)

College of Southern Nevada

(North Las Vegas, NV)

North Lake College

(Irving, TX)

Columbus State Community College

(Columbus, OH)

Paris Junior College

(Paris, TX)

Cumberland County College

(Vineland, NJ)

Southwestern Oregon Community College

(Coos Bay, OR)

Delta College

(University Center, MI)

St. Clair County Community College

(Port Huron, MI)

Gaston College

(Dallas, NC)

St. Petersburg College

(St. Petersburg, FL)

Grand Rapids Community College
(Grand Rapids, MI)
West Los Angeles College

(Culver City, CA)

Jefferson Community & Technical College (Louisville, KY)

The 2015 Leader Colleges are making strides in the national movement to increase student completion and close achievement gaps, demonstrating the power of the Achieving the Dream Approach. With the guidance of Achieving the Dream Coaches, colleges not only systemically change the way they operate, but also implement key student supports that align with their overall policies and institutional systems, such as college readiness programs, mandatory new student orientation, student-success courses, developmental course redesign, curriculum redesign, and intensive, individualized advising.

Achieving the Dream grants Leader College designation for three-year cycles. After three years, institutions must undergo a recertification process to maintain Leader College status.

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CivitasSPC recently hosted its partners from Civitas Learning as the two groups work toward implementing software that will help improve student performance. The college began collaborating late last year with Civitas, the Austin, Texas-headquartered company that works with colleges to build and implement data analysis systems. Civitas currently partners with more than 50 colleges and universities across the country.

Dozens of SPC leaders are now trained in Civitas’ predictive analytics software. With the tool, administrators can drill-down into student performance and understand underlying factors that contribute to and impede student success.

The product, called Illume, will be used in conjunction with other student success initiatives that SPC has launched to increase student retention and graduation.

“St. Petersburg College is a prototypical pioneer college, particularly when it comes to the use of data to improve student learning and completion,” said Dr. Mark Milliron, Civitas Learning’s Co-Founder and Chief Learning Officer. “They bring a tough-mindedness and mission focus to our partnership in analytics innovation, and we love that!”

Since 2012, the college has focused on preparing students to succeed in their courses and finish what they start through The College Experience. College administrators have relied on data and analytics to help improve the student experience and success rate, particularly among First-Time-in-College students.

“Illume is a fantastic and insightful persistence tool,” said Mathematics Dean Jimmy Chang, who is helping to spearhead the efforts of the Civitas partnership. “It is quite a complement to our existing systems, and effective use of them will help enhance our work with our students. This will lead to greater retention, persistence, success and ultimately completion.”

Through the partnership, SPC will launch the Degree Map software, giving students a richer, more intuitive online experience when planning and registering for classes. This new planning and registration system will use predictive analytics and leverage SPC’s academic pathways to provide students the best possible option for navigating through the curriculum.

During the day-long visit, project team members from SPC and Civitas discussed the status of the project and many of its details.

Other notable clients of Civitas include Florida International University, University of South Florida, University of Central Florida, Penn State, University of Texas, Morehouse College and the University of Oklahoma.

In the photo above: Front row, left to right: Cheryl Gray, Senior Analyst/Programmer (SPC); Sharon Bobowski, Manager Programming & Support Student Systems (SPC); Amy Gregorich, Project Execution Manager (SPC); Bhavik Patel, PeopleSoft consultant; back row, left to right:  Alex Huckabee, Technical Project Manager (Civitas); Eva Christensen, Director of Admissions and Records (SPC); Rebecca Roman, Partner Success Manager (Civitas); Dan Nyser, Product Manager (Civitas); Kevin Chee, Engineering Manager, (Civitas); Kyle Greenan, Art Director (Civitas)

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SPC Workforce Institute

To help meet the demand for job training in north Pinellas County, the City of Oldsmar is partnering with the Workforce Institute at St. Petersburg College to open a training center at 127 State Street West. A ribbon cutting will be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 15 at the new center.

Classes will begin later in September at the newly named Workforce Institute at St. Petersburg College in Oldsmar, formerly the Oldsmar Senior Center.

“This is a birth of a great relationship between St. Petersburg College and the City,” stated Oldsmar Mayor Doug Bevis. “The educational opportunity for our residents, businesses and manufacturers afforded by this new location is unlimited.”

The new center will feature courses in manufacturing, business management and technology. Many will be offered through SPC’s Learn to Earn program, where participants can upgrade their job skills in specific software for as little as $25 in short-term courses. Industry-recognized certification classes will also be available. The goal is to bring training options to a specific area of the county, where local businesses have expressed the need to close skills gaps, and to expand educational opportunities for residents in north Pinellas.

“SPC is proud to be able to bring training close to home for individuals looking to advance their skill sets,” said Jim Connolly, Director of the Workforce Institute at St. Petersburg College.

Of the 13,400 people who work at 2,362 businesses in Oldsmar, more than 1,800 or 13.5% work in manufacturing, making it the third largest employment sector, according to the most recent data provided by Pinellas County Economic Development.

Only two other sectors are larger: professional, scientific and technology services employ more than 1,969 and administrative and support services employ 1,922.

“We’re excited about this new partnership, which will benefit the City and surrounding areas with a skilled workforce, and give students the ability to take classes tailored to meet the needs of these specific industries,” Connolly said.

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