Social Justice and Equitable Student Outcomes
With this strategic priority, NSCC redoubles its commitment to serve as a thriving Hispanic Serving Institution (HIS) that centers social justice on campus.
The need to act now is reflected in the environmental scanning information, which highlights the ways in which the college is uniquely placed in the midst of regional racial, linguistic, and age trends.
The catchment area for NSCC has a higher percentage of the state’s Hispanic population, higher poverty rates in Lynn and Salem, two of the biggest feeder cities, than the state’s average, and a higher dropout rate in the feeder high schools than the state’s average. English language learners (ELL) will be a large portion of NSCC’s future students as the geographic areas with the largest growth are specifically those with the highest ELL population.
These challenges also present opportunities for equity in recruitment and retention.
For example, while the population of Massachusetts is trending older overall, diverse communities in NSCC’s service area are seeing an increase in high school-aged students, particularly Hispanic and Black populations. Initiatives are already underway to offer ELL students multiple entry points into the college.
From noncredit English courses offered at worksites, such as Beverly Hospital, to a noncredit to credit pipeline, NSCC has already begun to ensure access and success for English learners is at the forefront of course offerings. This strategic priority centers providing such students with Early College pathways and support.
This approach is aligned with the Strategic Plan for Racial Equity which highlights the value to students of color of pathways that foster the timely completion of gateway college courses.
The college will focus its Early College work in communities with low levels of college attainment, especially for communities of color and other underserved populations. The new Early College high school on NSCC’s Lynn campus is one example of this work, and the college is developing partnership projects with the Saugus and Salem public schools as well.
The Frederick Douglass Collegiate Early College High School, housed on our Lynn campus, is the first in the state to be located on a college campus. Innovations such as an embedded early college academy show that the college is actively engaged with the K-12 districts in its service area. As NSCC expands Early College programming and access, emphasis will be placed on growing both the number of credits early college students register for and the conversion rate of Early College students to NSCC matriculated students upon high school completion.
With educational trends like Universal Design, integrated digital fluency, credit for prior learning, seal of biliteracy, dual language credit, Spanish language classes and clear pathways from noncredit to credit acquisition, NSCC has made some inroads in implementing practices designed to close equity gaps of all kinds–including those related to disability–but can clearly improve its approach.
This will require far more significant innovation and intentional, explicit work than the college has engaged in before. Closing the academic equity gaps for students of color is an ambitious goal, and is designed to require NSCC to direct resources toward this goal: to make critical investments in DEI work on campus, to provide professional development to support NSCC’s workforce on implementing DEI informed practices, to hire and retain a diverse workforce, and to build DEI principles systemically into programs across the college.
Investing in Lynn Early College programs, appointing an inaugural CDEO, and expanding the role of DEI in program review represent the beginning of this work.
The opportunities to deliver on equity by serving all students, part time, older, English language learners, etc. are ubiquitous.
To take just one example, NSCC is participating in a Massachusetts Community College statewide professional development opportunity called Faculty Academy, with the national organization Achieving the Dream. It is specifically designed to help faculty engage with students of all backgrounds in ways likely to build a relationship that sustains resilience and college completion for students of color.
The college will also improve equity for racially minoritized and low-income students by offering more academic programs on the Lynn campus to reduce the time and costs associated with travel to Danvers. The City of Lynn has expressed interest in attracting Biomanufacturing employers, for instance, and the college stands ready to provide education and training for local students to pursue a career in this field.
Working closely with the Lynn mayor and regional legislative delegation, NSCC will work to provide education and training for the jobs moving into its area.
Offering additional programming on the Lynn campus is another strategic opportunity to grow the college’s enrollment, with both credit and noncredit options not previously available to students hampered by lack of transportation.
Finally, NSCC will team up with employers, who increasingly desire that students have experiential learning opportunities, to assure internships can be paid so students do not have to choose between supporting their families and going to school.
A new agreement between NSCC and STEMatch to help students in Cybersecurity programs at the college gain paid internships with local employers is an example of this approach. Expanding programming with an experiential component in high demand/high wage fields is another strategy to increase enrollment in the next five years, as the college gains a reputation for graduating students with desirable work experience.
Academics emphasizing civic structures in our democratic society that support social justice
Overarching all of the initiatives supporting Priority Two is the promise to deliver programming to students, both curricular and co-curricular, that emphasizes the importance of understanding the civic structures in our democratic society that support social justice.
The college cannot deliver on the promise of social justice and equitable outcomes unless it delivers education that prepares students to connect the dots between local and national leadership via community activism, service, and the importance of the exercise of electoral privilege during their lifetimes.
Metrics for this strategic priority include both lag and lead indicator targets to help NSCC monitor progress in closing key student enrollment and performance equity gaps across all racial groups.
Plan metrics targets for this strategic priority recognize that equity gap leading indicators may move prior to lagging indicators. Metrics also address the extent to which NSCC is expanding student enrollment to foster an increasingly diverse student body from the groups increasingly represented in our service area, such as ESL students and high school students from our most racially diverse and fastest growing feeder communities.
Additional metrics will collect rich qualitative survey and focus group data to measure the extent to which NSCC is supporting a diverse student body by fostering a climate where all community members, no matter their racial or social background, feel a sense of belonging.
STRATEGIC PRIORITY #2 METRICS
Metrics in this priority area center an examination of institutional spending, hiring, and professional development practices to foster a diverse workforce committed to equity and inclusion.
1. Disaggregated student enrollment and performance data to measure equity gaps for students of color (lead/lag). Across all racial groups:
Increase first year retention rate to 60% by 2025 (lead)
Increase first year retention rate to 65% by 2027 (lag)
Increase fall semester course pass rate (C or above) to 5% by 2025 (lead)
Increase fall semester course pass rate (C or above) to 80% by 2027 (lag)
Decrease equity gaps by 40% by 2025
Eliminate Equity gaps by 2027
Institutional Funding for Racial Equity Efforts (lead)
Increase % NSCC Employee Participation in DEIJ PD/Initiatives (lead)
Recruitment, Promotion, and Retention of NSCC Employees of Color (lead/lag)
Measures of Student, Employee, and Alumni Institutional Climate and Belonging survey/focus groups, disaggregated by race/ethnicity (lead/lag)
Increase % of Early College students who enroll in NSCC (lead/lag)
Increase application numbers and yield rates for Lynn, Salem, Peabody and Saugus high school students (lead/lag)
Increase % of ESL students who enroll in additional NSCC courses (lead/lag)