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$175 Million California Online College Graduates Only 12 Students

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An online community college in California graduated only 12 of more than 900 students during its first year of operation, the state auditor revealed in a report.

Calbright College, a government-funded institution launched in 2019, reportedly fell well behind its educational objectives after around 40 percent of students dropped out.

Furthermore, the 74-page report released on Tuesday revealed that the online-only school, which has a budget of $175 million, recorded 87 inactive students for 90 days or more.

“The college must now make significant progress in enrolling, graduating, and helping to secure jobs for its students,” State Auditor Elaine Howle said.

“If Calbright does not demonstrate meaningful implementation of our recommendations by the end of 2022, we recommend that the Legislature eliminate the college as an independent entity and explore other options for providing self-paced educational programs to California adults,” she added.

Assembly Votes to Close Calbright

Upon receiving the report, assemblymen Jose Medina and Evan Low submitted a bill that would shut Calbright down at the end of the 2022-23 academic year.

On May 6, the California Assembly voted unanimously for the school’s closure, asserting that the online school simply duplicates current programs at other community colleges.

“The Legislature must end the Calbright College experiment,” Medina said.

Meanwhile, several officials at the institution agree with many of the recommendations, saying they are now working to improve under new leadership.

Calbright Board of Trustees President Pamela Haynes admitted that there were early missteps, but necessary changes have been made.

Calbright Objectives 

Former Governor Jerry Brown signed a law in 2018 establishing Calbright. The primary goal was to help working Californians obtain access to higher-paying jobs by acquiring certificates.

The school was also meant to place 300 to 400 graduates into paid apprenticeships or jobs. However, only 12 graduated and the college does not know if these graduates have been hired.

“A primary reason why Calbright’s progress is not on track is that its former executive team failed to develop and execute effective strategies for launching the college,” Howle stressed.

“It also used ineffective and inappropriate hiring and contracting processes that failed to ensure that the right team was in place to accomplish its goals,” she added.

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