Keeping the Guided Pathways Groove On

ASCCC North Representative, ASCCC Guided Pathways Task Force
ASCCC Guided Pathways Task Force
ASCCC Vice President, ASCCC Guided Pathways Task Force Chair


During the past four years or more, California community college faculty have taken the lead in moving their colleges into the guided pathways groove. The California Community Colleges Guided Pathways Grant [Award] Program [1], part of the 2017-18 Budget Act, provided $150 million to be distributed by the CCC Board of Governors over five years. Ten percent of the funding was allocated to the CCC Chancellor’s Office for statewide assistance and programmatic support, with the remaining $135 million to be allocated to the CCCs participating in the CCC Guided Pathways Grant Program. As of the writing of this article, participating colleges have received 90% of the funds. All funds, including the last allocation of the remaining 10% for year five which will be dispersed in July 2021, sunset at the end of June 2022. As with most grant funding, colleges are expected to sustain the programs developed. In other words, colleges need to stay in the guided pathways groove to sustain the systemic changes and institutional redesigns that have been set in motion.

Furthermore, statements such as Chancellor Eloy Oakley’s Call to Action (California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office, 2020) and the Special Message from the President of the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges (Stanskas, 2020) have indicated the importance of leveraging the guided pathways framework to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion with high-touch student support and integrating those concepts into college structures. Significant guided pathways practices fall under local academic senate purview, including curriculum, degree and certificate requirements, program development, institutional planning processes, professional development, and strategies for student success. Local academic senates are situated to take the lead in planning for institutionalizing guided pathways frameworks in California’s community colleges.


One distinction between the guided pathways framework and other grant or initiative programs is that it focuses on sustainable systemic changes that form the foundation for redesigning institutions with students in mind. Colleges throughout the California Community Colleges system created meta majors and program maps, re-designed onboarding student support, focused curriculum review on student experience, and built holistic wrap-around services for students. Sustaining these changes is key to the institutional redesign taking place to embrace diversity, equity, and inclusion and eliminate those structures that have upheld racist practices. Research on guided pathways nationwide has shown that full implementation can take up to ten years (Belfield, 2020). The five-year grant from the legislature was a starter grant to enable colleges to begin designing and implementing a guided pathways framework. Although hope remains for additional funding from the state to continue the work on guided pathways, no additional funding has been secured to date. The benefits to students resulting from institutional redesign accentuate the need for colleges to plan for the continuation and expansion of guided pathways work regardless of funding. Colleges may use data, both qualitative and quantitative, to review the effectiveness of guided pathways activities and prioritize for sustainability and continuing in the guided pathways groove.


The Academic Senate for California Community Colleges also received guided pathways funding. The Guided Pathways Task Force (GPTF) was established in spring 2018 to provide resources, professional development, and services to member academic senates. However, the ASCCC grant funds expired December 31, 2020, halfway through year four, motivating the GPTF to create a plan to institutionalize ASCCC guided pathways support. In fall 2020, the GPTF reviewed the work that took place over the previous three years, identifying where resources, professional development, and services could be embedded into ASCCC structures. The GPTF provided recommendations to the ASCCC Executive Committee for integration of guided pathways work into the work of the organization’s standing committees. Each committee was asked to review the recommendations and its committee charge with a focus on which elements of guided pathways aligned with the committee’s work. The GPTF clarified that the intent in reviewing and updating the charges was not to add duties but to clarify guided pathways elements that fell under the role of each committee. In addition, as ASCCC standing committees conducted this review, they could also review and update charges with a focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion.


Similar to the ASCCC strategy for sustaining guided pathways support, local academic senates can take a lead in multiple areas, including the following:

  • Leverage the guided pathways framework to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • Integrate and clarify guided pathways work and supports into existing or revised academic senate committees and college governance structures.
  • Support effective communication of guided pathways efforts, successes, and areas for improvement.
  • Encourage, facilitate, and institutionalize faculty involvement.
  • Integrate guided pathways efforts with the college mission and planning.
  • Provide leadership in highlighting the student voice in guided pathways efforts.

Local academic senates are well-positioned to initiate the review of not only academic senate-led committee operating agreements and charges but those of college or district governance groups as well. Local senates are encouraged to consider broad constituency group representation with a focus on diversity of voices, including highlighting the voices of students. Committee reviews should also continue the efforts to de-silo committees and promote cross-functional dialog. Local senates should also work with their local budget committees to discuss budget processes that will continue to support effective guided pathways efforts. All of these activities should focus on supporting equitable opportunities for students through guided pathways frameworks.

The guided pathways framework prioritizes inquiry, dialog, and assessment. Local academic senates, due to their purview over academic and professional matter as provided in Title 5 §53200, are in a prime position to partner with students, classified professionals, and administrators on planning for guided pathways sustainability. Doing so will ensure that students today and in the future benefit from guided pathways reforms and that colleges will keep their guided pathways groove on.


Belfield, C. (2020). The Economics of Guided Pathways: Cost, Funding, and Value. CCRD Working Paper no. 123.…

California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office. (2020). Memo to California Community Colleges.…

Stanskas, J. (2020). Special Message from the President. Academic Senate for California Community Colleges.

1. The legislative language establishing the grant program can be found at…