Glendale Community College educators are gearing up to implement a state law that aims to improve students' graduation and transfer rates.

When the fall semester begins, incoming students will be asked to create an educational plan, stating whether they are interested in earning a specific degree, a certificate or whether they want to transfer to a four-year school.

"The way that I like to explain a student education plan — it's like having a personal GPS so that you know how to get where you're going," said Jeanette Stirdivant, who is the interim dean of student services for the college.

The Student Success Act was coauthored by state Sen. Carol Liu (D-La Cañada Flintridge), and aims to make students' time in community college more efficient as they work toward earning certificates or transferring to four-year schools.

Under the program, college officials will alert students when they are in danger of failing a class.

In addition, counselors will be required to proactively target struggling students and intervene if they haven't declared a course of study by the end of their second term, Stirdivant said.

Under the new program, students new to the Glendale campus — including recent high school graduates — will gain priority registration, unlike the past when students with more units were typically awarded earlier registration dates.

But students who want priority registration will also need to attend a college orientation and be assessed academically.

The priority registration date would be stripped from students who fall into probation, which typically occurs when a student's grade point average dips below 2.0 or they don't pass more than half their classes.

"We respond to positive and negative reinforcement," Stirdivant said. "I think that by a student being notified they're going to lose their priority, there's going to be a consequence for the behavior."

Educators will also examine students' success rates based on demographics, including age and gender — another method they hope will provide greater insight into student success — or lack of it.

"I think all these metrics…are going to allow us to target the underlying cause of why they're not succeeding," said trustee Anita Quinonez Gabrielian.

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Follow Kelly Corrigan on Twitter: @kellymcorrigan.

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