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The following is a list of resources that you may find helpful when learning about or discussing Guided Pathways.

The "Why" & "What"

What we know about GP

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. 

What We Know about Guided Pathways (PDF)

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.  

What is the Guided Pathways Model? (PDF)

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...."

Pathways to Prosperity Feb 2011 (PDF)

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. 

Going-and-Passing-Through-Community-Colleges-Iowa (PDF)

GP 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.

Demystified I by R Johnstone (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. 

Demystified II by R Johnstone (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."  

Guided Pathways to Success Summary-Complete College America (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.

Read Full Paper (PDF)

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)."

Two Professors Perspectives (PDF)

Student Voices

Bringing Student Voices to Guided Pathways Inquiry and Design

"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 were 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...."

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

Career Preparation

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.

Work-based Learning Principles (PDF)

Work-based Learning Summary (PDF)

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

Pathways to Prosperity (PDF)

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.1 Yet too many Americans are not maximizing their educational potential and are being left behind in today’s labor market.2 Closing these educational divides is critical to upholding the ideal that America is a land where anyone can succeed if they work hard enough.  

Results and Data

Women's Experiences in the STEM CC 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.

Women's Experiences in the STEM CC Transfer Pathway

Research Backs CA Push to Reform Remedial Math

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.

Read this EdSource article (website) for more information.

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."

Implementing Guided Pathways-Early Insights from the AACC (PDF)

Implementing Guided Pathways-Exec Summary (PDF)

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.

Read full paper (PDF).

The Effects of Structured Transfer Pathways in Community Colleges

By Rachel Baker of University of California, Irvine.

Abstract: 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.

Read the full paper (PDF).

Embracing Guided Pathways Sees 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.

Full article (PDF).

2017 CRC Student Success Scorecard

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. 

CRC Student Success Scorecard (PDF)

CCC 2017-18 Guided Pathways Report (PDF)


Student Centered Funding Formula

Student Centered Funding Formula Webinar Series

In alignment with the California Community College's Vision for Success, the new Student-Centered Funding Formula (SCFF) is structured to acknowledge key metrics that reflect our students' success.  

This webinar series will review the impact of the new comprehensive formula, as well as dive deeper into the metrics that will be utilized and the planning tools geared towards developing a comprehensive plan. 

Webinar #1
Student Funding Formula (video)

Webinar #2
Deep Dive into Data (video)
Deep Dive Into Data (slides)
October 8, 2018, 10:30 AM - 12:00 PM

Webinar #3
Information on Local Goals
November 5, 2018

Webinar #4
Student Equity and Achievement Program
December 2018 

SB 539

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.

SB 539 Text (PDF)

SB 539 Today as Amended (PDF)

SB 539 Senate Appropriations (PDF)

SB 539 Senate Floor Analyses (PDF)