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The Aspen Institute named Rend Lake College (RLC) as one of the nation’s top 150 community colleges during its quest to award the 2015 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence. The Prize is the nation’s signature recognition of high achievement and performance among all U.S. community colleges. RLC was noted for its exceptional student outcomes. RLC is a community college in rural Illinois with federal Title III funding supporting the education of low-income students, and typically enrolls 3,000 students annually. RLC partnered with EPIC to explicitly align their courses to the Common Core State Standards and to local high school courses.

“MAP and GAP” Technology and Process

In 2012, RLC hosted an EPIC Bridge the Gap workshop sponsored by The Illinois Community College Board, Board of Higher Education, and State Board of Education. For the following two years, RLC invited English and mathematics teachers from local high schools to join RLC faculty in creating syllabi in EPIC’s CourseCreate software. RLC then hosted workshops for instructors to review Common Core State Standards coverage among the courses using EPIC’s CoursePathway reports. Collaboration led to intentionally designed, sequential courses with appropriate coverage of the standards, as well as sustained local partnerships among high schools and the college.

Next Steps

In 2015, RLC will replicate the “map and gap” process to design sequential science courses using the Next Generation Science Standards, further strengthening its partnership with its feeder high schools. This work supports student success by assuring structured and coherent course pathways from high school to college.

Read the complete Rend Lake case study.