Johns Hopkins Gazette: August 7, 1995

Packer Standards To Alter Community College Teaching

Chris Rowett
Homewood News and Information

     Arnold Packer believes all college graduates should be
qualified for the workforce. So the senior fellow at the
Institute for Policy Studies will spend at least the next three
years trying to improve their chances.

     Packer, who calls community colleges the "most flexible part
of the education system," said two-year institutions graduate
many potential employees in the field of manufacturing; improving
how those students are educated could only increase the
competitiveness of American manufacturing.

     Working with a panel of employers and educators throughout
the country, Packer developed standards for an associate's degree
in high-performance manufacturing. The new degree would allow
students to specialize in one of several aspects of
manufacturing, including the metal working, printing and
electronics industries. All students, however, would graduate
with a more diversified education. The ultimate goal, Packer
said, is a nationally accepted degree in manufacturing
technology. The project recently received a $1.3 million grant
from the National Science Foundation.

     "What we're trying to accomplish here is to change the way
community colleges train students for industry," Packer said.
"We're trying to make it possible for all community colleges to
reach higher standards."

     One of the panel's recommendations is that students be able
to modify existing systems to improve products and services. One
way to meet that requirement, for example, would be to have
students enhance a current computer system.

     "I think it's a very good program," said David Pierce,
president of the American Association of Community Colleges.
"We've been participating from day one."

     Initially, IPS will work with five community colleges to
develop and implement a model program in manufacturing
technology. Thoughout the country, more than 320,000 students are
currently enrolled in the 687 two-year schools that offer degrees
in engineering technology, Packer said.

     "It's not a new curriculum," said Elizabeth Mathias,
co-principal investigator of the project who will work with
Hagerstown Community College in Hagerstown, Md. "Oftentimes,
people start by reinventing the wheel. We've really been building
on what we do well in community colleges and enhancing that."

     In addition to Hagerstown, the participating community
colleges are Modesto Junior College (Modesto, Calif.), New
Hampshire Technical Institute (Concord, N.H.), South Seattle
Community College (Seattle, Wash.) and Northern Essex Community
College (Havervill, Mass.).   

     Some schools, Packer said, may have already adopted some of
the 22 recommended standards. The goal, he added, is to get all
schools to adopt all the standards.

     The School of Continuing Studies will help prepare faculty
for their new roles; the results of the project will most likely
be implemented in the 1997-98 academic year.

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