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CAEL Pathways Blog

Latest Latino Adult Student Success Academy Cohort Concludes Final Virtual Convening

In 2018, CAEL launched the Latino Adult Student Success (LASS) Academy. The inaugural cohort saw positive trends in Adult Learner 360 diagnostics, average credits completed by adults and Latino adults, and other key student success metrics emerge among its participants. Following that success, Greater Texas Foundation and Strada Education Network funded a second cohort, which began in 2022 and will conclude in May of this year. 

Institutions participating in the latest Academy cohort include Austin Community College, South Texas College, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, and the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. All are Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs).

Each institution chose at least one area to focus Academy resources, including awarding credit for prior learning to Latino adult students to accelerate degree completion, driving Latino adult enrollment, and improving retention of Latino adult students through personalized coaching. CAEL has worked with the institutions throughout the Academy to identify and track impact metrics around the targeted outcomes.

On Jan. 11, CAEL held the cohort’s third and final virtual convening. A signature element of the CAEL Academies, convenings are foremost an opportunity for participants to accelerate the exchange of emerging best practices and share the impact of the data analysis, technical assistance, and peer-to-peer learning the Academy offers throughout the cohort.

Rafael Pasillas, who is senior director of initiatives for CAEL and the primary liaison for Academy participants, presented an overview of the latest research on credit for prior learning (CPL), including its connection to higher grades, improved retention and completion, and savings in time and money for students, not to mention the benefits to the institutions that offer it. Two participating institutions then reported enhancements the Academy had helped them complete to maximize such benefits. 

Austin Community College, which enrolls more than 76,000 students across 11 campuses, has established a process for collecting and analyzing data that can better track CPL´s impact. It has also added a CPL coordinator-faculty member. 

The college further plans to implement CAEL’s Credit Predictor Pro, a technology solution that centralizes and streamlines the entire credit for prior learning process. The Credit Predictor Pro platform extracts student-profile details, matching them to pre-approved CPL crosswalks. It also highlights additional potential avenues to CPL based on each student’s aggregate experiential learning details so that appropriate credit recommendations can be made by CPL staff and tracked across the institution. 

Several advisors are now piloting Credit Predictor Pro at ACC. “Our hope is that once the Credit Predictor Pro tool becomes the place of record for [CPL], our data will be a lot cleaner,” said Susan Warner-Sanchez, Ph.D., the associate vice chancellor for instructional services at ACC. “Our goal is to create dashboards for the data that has been collected for the grant so that it becomes a standard process for us, and not just collected because the grant is asking for it.”

At Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi (TAMU-CC), which enrolls nearly 11,000 students, staff are creating a CPL working group to capitalize on improvement opportunities revealed by the Academy’s process mapping. The university is also crafting a policy statement to help clarify its CPL offerings, in particular credit by examination, which a CAEL policy review revealed as a key strength within TAMU-CC’s CPL portfolio.

The university additionally reported that the Academy has helped identify opportunities to enhance the use of data to complete a more comprehensive view of CPL usage, refine the CPL appeal process, and foster collaboration with the institution’s marketing department to boost awareness of CPL opportunities.

The convening concluded with “What Works for Latino Adults,” a presentation from Academy partner Excelencia in Education that spotlighted Dr. Mary Helen Vera and her work at the San Antonio College Empowerment Center. Dr. Vera, who coordinates the center’s programs and services, outlined the comprehensive and holistic system of advising and support the center offers in support of adult learners, underserved students, and community members. 

The center’s CAEL certified advisors are trained to be attuned to the specific needs of adult and other nontraditional populations. Its wraparound support includes enrollment services, academic advising, emergency transportation, school supplies, computer labs, child care and community referrals, special events and programming, scholarships, and even a coffee bar.

Next up for the cohort is its final in-person convening, in March. It will focus on both highlighting the successes and impact of the work at the participating institutions during the Academy as well as planning for how it will continue beyond the term of the grant. 

The Academy model remains a focus as a tool to leverage data to initiate meaningful and strategic change with CAEL’s partners. If you are interested in learning more about the Academy model, or future cohorts, please visit https://www.cael.org/lp/academy.

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