National Council of Instructional Administrators


Date of this Version


Document Type

Book Review


Review of: McClenney, K., Dare, D., & Thomason, S. (2013). Premise and promise: Developing new pathways for community college students. Community College Journal. Retrieved from http://www.ccjournal-­‐

Can community colleges rise to the challenge of increasing the educational capacity of individuals and the nation? McClenney, Dare, and Thomason say Yes if community colleges can design clearer student pathways to completion. In their 2013 article, Premise and Promise: Developing New Pathways for Community College Students, they present the case for a new model of academic pathways that focuses on providing students with “an integrated and coherent experience” of college (p.57), one that enhances student success. The select-­‐from-­‐an-­‐array-­‐of-­‐discrete-­‐services model that is standard fare in most community colleges does not serve students well. Students swirl in and out of classes and then leave with an ill assortment of credits and no credential. Instead, McClenney et al. envision the narrowing of student choices to six structured pathways (or more depending on a college’s size, transfer agreements, and regional labor market demands) such as an arts, humanities, and design pathway, a social sciences and human services pathway, a health careers and life sciences, and a STEM pathway. The pathway model mandates that all students participate in learning-­‐related experiences known to enhance student success. Students do not get a choice; students do not fall between the cracks. This is Kay McClenney’s maxim that students do not do optional writ large.