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California Community Colleges Education Planning InitiativeProfessional development is a critical component for the California Community Colleges (CCC) Education Planning Initiative (EPI). To support its goals, the EPI has joined with the CCC Professional Learning Network (PLN).

As part of its mission, the EPI will create structured pathways provided through a student services portal and education planning system, governance provided by inclusive and multi-tiered committees from across the system, and integrated professional development for student services professionals. Included in the body of legislation that forms the basis for the EPI is recognition of the importance of effective professional development for faculty and staff focused on training appropriate, existing personnel in the use of these new tools.

Task Force Calls For Improvements

In January 2011, the CCC Board of Governors initiated a 12-month strategic planning process to identify a course of action for improving student outcomes. To develop an improvement plan, the board formed the Student Success Task Force, which consisted of 21 members from inside and outside the CCC. In January 2012, the task force released a comprehensive report containing 22 recommendations designed to foster greater student success. Key areas of emphasis in the report included strengthening student support services for students and rethinking basic skills education.

Professional Development Cited As Key To Innovation

The task force stressed the importance of professional development in supporting implementation of these reforms and improving student outcomes. As the task force emphasized, “To accomplish major changes in the California Community Colleges, professional development must be at the center of this discussion.”

Specifically, the task force recommended that community colleges create a system of focused and sustained opportunities for all college personnel to learn from each other and build their skills. The task force further recommended that the Chancellor’s Office “explore the use of myriad approaches to providing professional development, including … the use of technology.”

Systemwide Committee Re-imagines Professional Development

To help implement the task force and board’s collective vision for professional development, the Chancellor’s Office formed a 30-member Student Success Initiative Professional Development Committee in the fall of 2012. The charge of the committee was to develop ideas and strategies to “revitalize and re-envision” professional development within the CCC. In March 2013, the committee presented its findings and recommendations to the board. A key recommendation from the committee was for the Chancellor’s Office to create a “virtual professional development resource center”—a “one-stop shop” for colleges and their employees to access effective practices, trainings and other resources.

State Funding For Professional Learning Network

The 2014-15 state budget created a new CCC program known as the Institutional Effectiveness Partnership Initiative (IEPI). Led by the Chancellor’s Office, the IEPI is designed to help colleges improve student success rates and address accreditation, fiscal and other issues. The initiative’s advisory committee and professional development work group members provided extensive guidance and feedback on development of the Professional Learning Network (PLN), which is intended to supplement the many in-person workshops and other CCC events held throughout the year. The 2015-16 Budget Act provides ongoing support for the PLN as part of the IEPI. This one-stop shop includes:

  • Peer-reviewed model curriculum and other content
  • A library of self-paced video-based trainings
  • A discussion board that allows personnel to communicate across colleges and program areas
  • The opportunity for employees to create a personalized professional development plan
  • A “speakers bureau” (a listing of experts who are available to speak at conferences)
  • A systemwide events calendar

The EPI has been an integral part of the PLN since its inception. A dedicated EPI page on the PLN website contains multiple resources that will allow interested individuals to learn more about its tools and services. For more information about the PLN, visit

David Quintanilla is a project team member of
the California Community Colleges Technology Center