Technical Assistance to Colleges

Core Elements | Key Activities 

In a state-driven initiative the state team needs to take responsibility for providing TA and support to participating colleges by guiding the implementation of integrated pathways, working on the needed culture shift, and supporting policy change. TA by the state to the colleges includes:
  • Ongoing contact with and support for senior college administrators, faculty, staff, and advisors throughout the entire implementation process (going beyond simply touching base with the college’s coordinator);
  • Coordinating TA activities; 
  • Acting as an advocate at the state and college level as needed; and 
  • Pushing colleges to continuously improve their programs and policies.

Core elements of an effective TA plan 

State Capacity and Leadership 

  • A clear articulation of who at the state level is responsible for developing, designing, and implementing TA to the colleges, and who is responsible for monitoring progress
  • Strategies to ensure sufficient state-level capacity to provide proactive coaching and keep aware of college activities and emerging needs

Process 

  • A plan for managing the colleges throughout the implementation phase
  • Communications structures to ensure that information flows between state and college teams
  • A schedule for when and how often the colleges will come together
  • A description of the professional development that will be delivered and the process to manage this

Points of Emphasis 

  • An analysis of the primary points of emphasis for the state TA approach. For example, while the overall TA plan will include such topics as TA for data collection, professional development on team teaching, and promoting labor market alignment, some areas will require more in-depth, comprehensive TA.
  • A plan for continuously assessing colleges’ fidelity to the model and addressing implementation gaps
  • Strategies to assess the colleges’ most critical needs and provide just-in-time TA for emerging issues
  • Strategies to spread the model beyond the initial set of demonstration colleges

Key State Activities in Providing TA to Colleges 

These specific TA activities are highly beneficial to the colleges:
  • Visiting colleges regularly and meeting with the full college implementation team, including observing pathways classes in person, to ensure fidelity to the model developed by the college during the design phase and overall adherence to the non-negotiable elements
  • Regular check-in calls with college teams (at least monthly and maybe more often during the critical launch phase) and protocols for the colleges to provide regular updates
  • Requiring the colleges to provide the state implementation team with details about each pathway being implemented, including a diagram and a listing of all courses and certificates being offered
  • Conducting “listening tours” with colleges to gain a better understanding of policy and program challenges (tours should include faculty, staff, and administrators) or if a listening tour is not possible bringing the colleges into the system office for a one-day listening session
  • Establishing a clear communications structure so that instructors, faculty, staff, and others know where to go with questions or guidance, including a protocol for having JFF answer questions or provide direction
  • Keeping colleges informed of state-level activities by sharing materials and information from the initiative and holding “all-college check in meetings” at least once a year
  • Keeping college personnel informed about professional development opportunities provided by JFF and its partners
  • Sharing tools and resources developed by the state team, JFF, and its partners
  • Developing state-specific professional development opportunities as needed, based on the professional development plan created during the design phase
  • Providing convening opportunities (e.g., formal trainings, peer learning) for college teams to learn about best practices, capitalizing on every large-scale convening hosted by the community college system and its partners by including Accelerating Opportunity concepts on the agenda
  • Developing cross-college communication structures (e.g., regular role- alike calls or meetings; various “affinity groups”) to connect colleges working on similar projects
  • Helping broker connections with community partners when appropriate 
  • Monitoring and supporting college-level data collection, including the collection of cost data 
  • Monitoring enrollment, persistence, job placement, and other outcome measures 
  • Capitalizing on the scaling-up plan to put in place strategies to spread the model to additional colleges