Guided Pathways




Read the most current research and articles on Guided Pathways.

2017 Cosumnes River College Student Success Scorecard

2017-2018 Guided Pathways Report - California Community Colleges

CCC GP Report

In 2017, the state of California committed a $150 million one-time investment to a Guided Pathways Award Program that gave all 114 California community colleges the opportunity to begin implementing the Guided Pathways framework. This transformative framework supports significant improvements in student success outcomes. All of this effort was captured by Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley in the Vision for Success, which identified Guided Pathways as the primary vehicle for achieving six ambitious goals to improve student outcomes and promote equity and economic mobility in our system. 

During the 2017-18 academic year, the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office worked to introduce the Guided Pathways framework to the California Community Colleges, build foundational support groups and tools, and support California community colleges in their Guided Pathways implementation planning. This included structuring an award program for the qualification and dispersal of the $150 million investment.

The California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office is very proud to say that all 114 California community colleges are now actively engaged in the inquiry, design, or implementation of the Guided Pathways framework. System leadership has strategized to address the support needs of all California community colleges, and each college, per the 2017 legislation funding the effort, has attended a workshop familiarizing them with the effort, completed a self-assessment noting the stage of implementation as of fall 2017, and has an actionable plan to proceed with its Guided Pathways transformation.  Read more at:

file icon.CCC_2017-18-Guided-Pathways-Report.pdf

Bringing Student Voices to Guided Pathways Inquiry and Design: Findings from Student Focus Groups at Two California Community Colleges

"Between March and April 2017, Career Ladders Project (CLP) staff facilitated 16 focus groups with a total of 137 students from two mid-size urban California Community Colleges. The goal was to help the two colleges integrate student voices into the inquiry and design of their guided pathways framework. The summary of findings from each college’s focus groups was presented to that college’s faculty, staff, and administrators to inform their guided pathways inquiry and design process. This report highlights the main themes that emerged from the focus groups to help other colleges seeking to learn from student voices as they engage in inquiry, design, and implementation of the guided pathways framework. In addition, the Appendix includes the interview protocols we used, which can assist colleges in creating their own focus groups...."

file icon.Bringing-Student-Voices-to-Guided-Pathways-Inquiry-and-Design_Aug_2017.pdf

California Community Colleges Guided Pathways Onboarding Webinar

Community Colleges Embracing "Guided Pathways" See Payoff

Community colleges are at a watershed moment. Long viewed as an inexpensive pathway to a better job, deep budget cuts and low graduation rates have raised doubts as to whether they can deliver on their promise of an accessible education with a clear return on investment...Early data suggests the changes are working. The share of students who earned at least six college-level credits [at Jackson College] in their first term jumped to 58% in the fall of 2016 from 35% in the fall of 2015. Moreover, the percentage of incoming students who completed college-level math in their first year rose from 19% to 43% over the same time period...

Read the full article file icon.Community_colleges_embracing_guided_pathways_see_payoff_Education_Dive.pdf 

or at  

The Effects of Structured Transfer Pathways in Community Colleges

By Rachel Baker of University of California, Irvine.


Most of the students who set out to earn degrees in community colleges never do. Interventions that

simplify the complex organizational structures of these schools are promising solutions to this problem.

This article is the first to provide rigorous evidence of the effects of structured transfer programs,

one such intervention. Leveraging the phased rollout of transfer programs in California, I

find large effects of the policy on degrees earned in treated departments. In the first 2 years, this

growth was not coupled with growth in total degrees granted or in transfers, but in the third year,

there is evidence of increased transfer. The analyses also show that the policy could affect equity;

departments that offer transfer degrees became more popular and there is suggestive evidence that

the highest achieving student groups enrolled in these classes at higher rates.

file icon.Effect of Transfer Pathways in Community Colleges

Engaging Latino Parents in Supporting College Pathways

Abstract: How can K-16 partnerships enlist Latino parents as informed allies

in support of their children’s college planning? This article draws on data

from 3 years of participant observation to show how a bilingual outreach program

for parents at a diverse high school narrowed the information gap about

college, enhanced family social networks, and challenged inequities. Latino

families gained knowledge and confidence for interacting with institutions,

communicating with their children, and easing pathways to college.


file icon.engaging latino parents in supporting college pathways

Expanding Opportunities Through Middle-Skills Education

Making it in today’s economy without some education beyond a high school diploma is becoming harder and harder. By 2020, almost two-thirds of all jobs will require some postsecondary training or education.Yet too many Americans are not maximizing their educational potential and are being left behind in today’s labor market.Closing these educational divides is critical to upholding the ideal that America is a land where anyone can succeed if they work hard enough.  

file icon.middle-skills-pathways.pdf

Get With the Program...and Finish It: Building Guided Pathways to Accelerate Student Completion

A working paper by researchers from the Community College Research Center, Teachers College, Columbia University.  


Most community colleges offer a wide array of programs. Yet they typically

provide little guidance to help new students choose a program of study and develop a

plan for completing it, despite the fact that many new students enroll without clear goals

for college and careers. In prior research charting the educational pathways and outcomes

of community college students, we found that students who enter a program of study in

their first year are much more likely to complete a credential or transfer successfully than

are students who do not enter a program until the second year or later.

With so many choices available and without a clear roadmap or someone

monitoring their progress, it is not surprising that many community college students

indicate that they are confused and often frustrated navigating their way through college.

In this paper, we describe efforts by a growing number of colleges and universities to

redesign academic programs and support services to create “guided pathways” designed

to increase the rate at which students enter and complete a program of study.

file icon.Get with the Program...and Finish It: Building Guided Pathways to Accelerate Student Completion

Going and Passing Through Community Colleges: Examining the Effectiveness of Project Lead the Way in STEM Pathways


Abstract:  Project Lead the Way (PLTW), which aims to create a seamless pathway from secondary education to college and career success in STEM fields, was first implemented in the State of Iowa in 2005.  As part of a statewide, longitudinal research in PLTW, this study intends to explore the effectiveness of PLTW in college persistence by analyzing multiple data sources, including state's K-12, community college MIS, and National Student Clearinghouse to examine multiple educational pathways of PLTW and non-PLTW students into higher education, more specifically looking at patterns of students' educational mobility within two years after high school graduation. 

file icon.Going-and-Passing-Through-Community-Colleges-Iowa


Guided Pathways Demystified I & II

This report is designed for higher education leaders and explores ten commonly asked questions about implementing guided pathways. It addresses concern about compromising our higher education values, practical considerations about control and enrollment, and apprehensions about the impact on students’ learning and development—all issues that will need to be addressed to successfully pursue a guided pathways effort.

file icon.Ca_GP_Demystified_by_RJohnstone.pdf

This report [written by Rob Johnstone and Kelley Karandjeff] is the second in a series of resources designed for higher education leaders and explorers 10 new "momentum" questions reflective of the uptake in guided pathways across our nations' colleges.  It addresses inquiries related to culture change, implications for the student experience, practical concerns for educators, and operational considerations and is designed to support institutions in ground-level planning and implementation. 

file icon.GP-Demystified-II-09-15-17.pdf

Guided Pathways to Success: Boosting College Completion

"Navigating the complicated path through college is a difficult task for far too many.  All students need step-by-step roadmaps and intrusive guidance to on-time completion--saving time and money--and significantly boosting their success."  file icon.Guided Pathways to Success Summary-Complete College America

Guided Pathways: Two Professors' Perspective on Why We Need the College GPS

"We agree with one author’s view that the ideas behind Guided Pathways need to be understood, discussed openly, and debated critically. For that reason, we offer the following report from our perspective as lead faculty on the Guided Pathways System (GPS) implementation team at Bakersfield College (BC)."

file icon.GP-two_prof_perspectives_on_why_we_need_by_Nick_Strobel.pdf

Implementing Guided Pathways: Early Insights From the AACC Pathways Colleges

"This report provides insight into how colleges are planning and implementing guided pathways reforms. It is based on the early work of 30 colleges that are participating in the American Association of Community Colleges’ (AACC) Pathways Project and have committed to redesigning their programs and support services at scale. CCRC researchers conducted telephone interviews with project leaders from all 30 colleges to discuss their self-assessments of the extent to which they were implementing elements of the guided pathways model. Researchers also conducted in-depth interviews and focus groups with faculty, advisors, and students during site visits at six of the colleges."

file icon.Implementing Guided Pathways-Early Insights from the AACC

file icon. Implementing Guided Pathways-Exec Summary

Innovation, Data, and Technology to Guide Students Along Their Educational Journeys

Cal Comm Colleges  

Omid Pourzanjani, Visiting Vice Chancellor for our State Chancellor’s Office, provided a presentation to better our understanding of technological solutions being developed and/or considered that may support our Guided Pathways efforts. With all of the Guided Pathways work underway we must implement technological solutions to enhance our user experience and create efficiencies.  Vice Chancellor Pourzanjani provided an update on the CCC Apply Re-Design to inform our planning in regards to AB 705 implementation and onboarding our students.
The session with Vice Chancellor Pourzanjani was held on Monday, September 24, 2018 from 8:30 am – 11:00 am in the Board Room.  Access the presentation here:  file icon.Digital_Futures_Presentation_for_Los_Rios_District_09-24-18.pdf

The Los Rios Community College District Strategic Plan

Finalized in 2016, the LRCCD embraces guided pathways in its strategic plan.  file icon.Los Rios Strategic Plan 2016

Meta-Majors: An Essential First Step on the Path to College Completion

"We know that the completion statistics for low-income and underprepared students enrolled in certificate and degree programs at community colleges are dismal.A growing body of evidence reveals that a central factor in these low completion rates is the “cafeteria” style approach to college, which provides entering students with a dizzying array of choices and little guidance on navigating those choices.Recent brain science research demonstrates that people feel anxiety and irritation when faced with too many choices and, as a result, are more likely to make poor choices or avoid the situation entirely.A poor decision on which classes to take can cost community college students a significant amount of time and potentially mean the difference between earning a credential or degree and stopping or dropping out. This scenario is supported by research in the field. In “The Shapeless River,” Judith Scott-Clayton concludes that lack of structure and too many academic options inhibit student progress and completion.Meta-majors are a programmatic response to these findings...."  

file icon.Meta Majors-Essential First Step


The Movement Toward Pathways

"Over the past several years, the concept of guided pathways has spread rapidly through community colleges and four-year institutions in many states and districts. The guided pathways model is based on coherent and easy-to-follow college-level programs of study that are aligned with requirements for success in employment and at the next stage of education. Programs, support services, and instructional approaches are redesigned and re-aligned to help students clarify their goals, choose and enter pathways that will achieve those goals, stay on those pathways, and master knowledge and skills that will enable them to advance in the labor market and successfully pursue further education...."

file icon.Pathways to Prosperity Feb2011


Pathways to Prosperity: Meeting the Challenge of Preparing Young Americans for the 21st Century

A must-read paper that focuses on the need to develop meaningful career training as a part of

comprehensive school reform. Career training has been ignored for far too long, but is essential if

we’re going to address the “career-ready” piece of the puzzle that, along with the “college-ready”

piece, is now all the buzz.”

~Joel I. Klein, Chancellor, New York City Public Schools (2002-2010)


“This thoughtful paper makes a strong case for the development of multiple pathways leading

from high school to post-secondary education or career training. Those of us who support a

single-track system through high school need to carefully consider the questions raised in this

provocative report.”

~Phil Bredesen, Governor of Tennessee (2003-2011)


“Preparing tomorrow’s future leaders is a responsibility we all share. Pathways to Prosperity

provides a clear way forward that demands the attention and participation of every sector

working together to ensure our future success.”

~Sanford I. Weill, Chairman Emeritus, Citigroup and Chairman, National Academy Foundation


“Pathways to Prosperity opens the door to new strategies that can help a broader range of

Americans, including the rapidly growing Latino population, gain the meaningful work and

educational experiences they need to earn degrees and higher salaries, helping to create better

jobs and a stronger workforce. The report reminds us that in order to close achievement gaps, we

must develop a more effective and holistic strategy to develop human capital.”

~Sarita E. Brown, President, Excelencia in Education


“Anyone who cares about the future of America should read this report. Our nation’s adolescents

and young adults must be better prepared for today’s and tomorrow’s more technical jobs. We

cannot afford to leave anyone behind.”

~George R. Boggs, President and CEO, American Association of Community Colleges


file icon.Pathways to Prosperity Feb2011


Research Backs California's Push to Reform Remedial Math Education

California has set an example for the United States in college remediation reform...There have been many reports of increased completion of college-level math requirements with corequisite remediation....

SB 539 the Community College Student Achievement Program

This bill, commencing with the 2017-18 academic year, would establish the California Community College (CCC) Completion Incentive Grant Program for the purpose of establishing guided pathways and a new grant award for community college students, to assist students in the completion of an associate degree, certificate program or transfer to a four-year university in a timely manner.

file icon.SB 539 Text 

file icon.SB 539 Today as Amended 

file icon.SB 539 Senate Appropriations 

file icon.SB 539 Senate Floor Analyses

Spring 2019 - The Guided Pathways PD Institute on General Education

Jan. 16, 2019

8:30 am-12 pm, Winn 150



Guided Pathways & General Education:

Where Are We Now & What Options Work Best for CRC Students?


Why do students take your course for GE? General Education provides a common educational experience for students. While the State prescribes GE course requirements, CRC faculty ensure that general education courses cultivate knowledge, skills, and values that are characteristic of a learned person. But, how will CRC decide which GE courses will fit with students’ interests and academic/career goals?


This PD institute will: 


·         engage participants in understanding GE

·         provide a context for how GE considerations relate to guided pathways implementation 

·         highlight possible GE approaches used by other colleges 

·         give participants a chance to voice their perspective on future college GE directions within a Pathways framework and contribute to “conversation draft” proposal for a thematic approach to GE at CRC.



      They're sometimes controversial among faculty, but -- love them or hate them -- theme-based general education "pathways" programs, in which required coursework is grouped into academically or socially relevant themes for a more meaningful undergraduate experience, are a growing trend. Or so it appeared Friday at a standing-room-only session on pathways at the American Association of Colleges and Universities’ annual conference here. Asked by panelists who had introduced theme-based general education requirements at their institutions, about a dozen attendees -- mostly administrators -- raised their hands. Asked again how many attendees were considering such programs, nearly all answered in the affirmative....


Read more at:  


General education is the traditional method by which institutions expose students to a wide array of disciplines, help them identify their academic interests, and become well-rounded graduates. Unfortunately, this is often not how general education plays out in practice. Without much structure to support their exploration, students end up selecting courses based on convenient times or the opportunity to take classes with friends, a lost opportunity to orient their course selection around their personal goals.

Some institutions, however, are confronting this planning gap by adding new structures to their general education requirements...

Read more at: 


General Education is included in the Ontario college curriculum to help graduates gain insight into the diversity, complexity, and richness of human experience. By expanding their aesthetic, cultural, historical, scientific, and philosophical awareness, graduates are equipped to participate actively and fully in society and to recognize the values of social responsibility and good citizenship.

To support these goals, general education at Algonquin College will be delivered via discrete courses that address one of the following five themes:

  1. Arts in Society

  2. Civic Life

  3. Social and Cultural Understanding

  4. Personal Understanding

  5. Science and Technology


Read more at: 


Ohio University offers “themes” that can help you focus general education (and College of Arts & Sciences requirements) around topics you’re interested in. The themes also provide ways for small groups of students and faculty to get involved in solving 21st century issues.

Read more at:

What is the "Guided Pathways Model?"

Written by Nick Strobel (faculty) and Sonya Christian (president) of Bakersfield College, this article describes what the guided pathways model is at a community college.  file icon.What is the Guided Pathways Model?

What We Know About Guided Pathways

Researchers from the Community College Research Center, Teachers College, Columbia University describe the approach from our current "cafeteria model" to the "guided pathways model" with supporting evidence. file icon.What We Know about Guided Pathways

Women's Experiences in the STEM Community College Transfer Pathway


The experiences of women using the community college transfer pathway to earn four-year degrees

in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields have not been studied extensively. This

study examined the experiences of thirty women (67% first-generation college students, 23% ethnic

minority students) pursuing STEM degrees; they were interviewed once while finishing at community

college and again one semester later. The results illustrate facilitators at the community college,

including inspirational professors, effective transfer advising, academic resources, and flexible work

schedules, and barriers resulting from ineffective initial advising. After transferring to a four-year

institution, the majority of women persisted in STEM majors despite many barriers, such as negative

course experiences, poor advising, and limited finances. Finding a helpful professor or advisor and cotransfer support boosted belongingness and contributed to persistence. Two students switched to non-STEM fields, while two students withdrew from the four-year school completely; these students faced significant financial barriers and did not find a helpful professor or advisor in a STEM field. Finally, four students delayed their transfer, primarily due to financial reasons and family responsibilities.


Implications for future research and practice are discussed.



Work-Based Learning

Americans seeking employment often face a conundrum:  relevant work experience is a prerequisite for many jobs, but it is difficult to gain the required experience without being in the workplace.  Work-based learning--activities that occur in workplaces through which youth and adults gain the knowledge, skills, and experience needed for entry or advancement in a particular career field--offers a solution to this problem.  But although the benefits of work-based learning are clear, they have accrued primarily to the most highly educated and socially connected segments of the U.S. population.  In recent years, educators and leaders in the workforce development field have returned again and again to the problem of providing work-based learning opportunities to the marginalized populations for whom this experience can mean the most.

This paper guides the design and implementation of effective models of work-based learning that expand access for the many people who don't currently benefit from these opportunities, including the introduction of seven principles for effective work-based learning that JFF has identified based on more than three decades of experience in promoting and implementing education and workforce strategies that support youth and adults seeking to launch and advance in careers.

The full report:file icon.Work_Based_Learning_Principles_Paper

Overview (7 Principles of Work-Based Learning):   file icon.Work_Based_Learning-one-page-summary