Modesto Junior College was named in mid-January as one of the nation’s top 150 community colleges to be eligible for the biennial $1 million Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence.
The Aspen Prize, awarded every two years, is the nation’s signature recognition of high achievement and performance among America’s community colleges, which recognizes institutions for exceptional student outcomes in four areas: student learning, certificate and degree completion, employment and earnings and high levels of access and success for minority and low-income students.
The top 150 community colleges represent the diversity and richness of the community college sector. They are located in 35 states in urban, rural and suburban areas, serving as few as 300 students and as many as 60,000 students.
To narrow down the pool of over 1,000 potential candidates to just 150 public two-year institutions, the Aspen Institute convened a Data Metrics Advisory Panel, which worked with the National Center for Education Management Systems to develop a model to distinguish colleges around the country that demonstrate the highest levels of performance in three key areas: student success, improvement in these areas over time, and equitable outcomes for students of all backgrounds.
Following selection to the top 150, (the first of three rounds in the selection process for the Aspen Prize) MJC completed an application describing what the college has done to improve student success on campus.
Only 10 finalists will progress in fall 2016 to the third round, which will include two-day site visits to each of the finalist institutions to gather qualitative data. The Aspen Institute is slated to announce one winner and up to four finalists-with-distinction in early 2017.
“Being among the 150 colleges identified through review of publicly available data
was a wonderful recognition of the commitment of our faculty, staff, and leaders to
student success,” stated Dr. Jill Stearns, MJC President.