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California community college leaders promise to raise graduation rates

California community college leaders are set to deliver a pledge in Los Angeles today to significantly increase graduation rates at their institutions in the next decade.

Administrators concede that community college completion rates are pitiful. A California State University, Sacramento study found that seven of every 10 students don’t accomplish the stated mission of California community colleges – transfers to four-year universities or qualification for two-year degrees.

"We need to rapidly improve the education of our workforce, and community colleges are the gateway to the majority of that workforce in California," said Long Beach City College President Eloy Ortiz Oakley. He says his institution will increase graduation rates by addressing the vast need for remedial education through close tracking of student progress.

"In some cases we’re going to become more prescriptive. We’re going to say, 'we’re going to make sure you get assessed when you come here to Long Beach City College.' We need to make sure you take these kinds of classes early in your educational experience," he said.

California’s 112 community colleges are experiencing an enrollment boom as laid off workers seek job training and people in pursuit of university degrees opt to complete their basic education at the much cheaper two-year schools.