An Integrated Approach to
Ensuring Student Access & Success
Report to College Council
Task Force Members: Casey Bonavia, Garth Brooks, Meryl Brooks, Anne Cavagnaro, Dave Chesnut, Melissa Colon, Cheryl Divine-Jonas, Patricia Harrelson, Brian Jensen, and Karin Rodts.
The Master Plan for Higher Education requires that California Community Colleges provide access to all of the state’s high school graduates and anyone over the age of eighteen who can benefit from instruction. The Columbia College Mission Statement reinforces this purpose by declaring that the “College provides educational programs and support services to assist students and the broader community in gaining access to higher education and achieving success in their chosen endeavors.” Ensuring the promise of access and success to students is proving difficult.
An increasing number of students who enroll in community colleges are inadequately prepared for college work. The latest Department of Education data reports that nationwide 28% of entering freshmen in 2000 took at least one remedial reading, writing or math course. At community colleges, 42% enrolled in a remedial course. According to the results of a 2001 survey of basic skills practices in California Community colleges conducted by the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges, many colleges report that more than half of their entering students place at least one level below college readiness. In a sample of students who took the College Placement Test (CPT) at Columbia College from Fall 2002 to Fall 2005, sixty percent placed one or more levels below college level reading and writing courses. Clearly students enrolling in the College need instruction and support to have a realistic chance of succeeding in academic and vocational programs, transferring to four-year institutions, or moving into positions in the work force.
A task force of
· Review external and internal documents that address student access and success.
pertinent findings in the review of documents and describe the relationship of
these findings to the situation at
perceived problems and propose recommendations for an integrated approach to ensuring
student access and success at
The following documents were reviewed by members of the task force:
Colleges Academic Senate Report: “The State of
2) California Community Colleges Board of Governor’s Report: “Effective Practices in Basic Skills” November 2002.
3) California Community Colleges Board of Governor’s Report: “Basic Skills: Research Update and Next Steps” January 2003.
4) California Community Colleges Academic Senate Report: Issues in Basic Skills Assessment and Placement in California Community Colleges” 2003.
5) California Community Colleges Academic Senate Report: “A Survey of Effective Practices for Basic Skills” Spring 2003.
6) “Basic Skills Students: Do We Really Want Them to Succeed?” Senate Rostrum, November 2005.
1) Annual Reports and data collection from Learning Skills Center/Academic Resources Center 1991-2001
2) Special Populations Proposal-1995
4) College-wide In-service meetings on Transformational Learning 2002-2003
11) Reports from staff and advisory committees for DSP&S, EOPS, CalWorks
12) Academic Senate Minutes and Resolutions
13) SLO/Transformational Learning Committee minutes and reports.
SUMMARY OF PERTINENT FINDINGS
An Integrated Approach
An integrated approach
assumes an institutional commitment to student access and success. The Academic
Senate for California Community Colleges recommends a “global approach to the
instruction of basic skills . . . so that faculty from all areas participate in
an across-the-curriculum approach.” They also affirm that a global approach
involves student services as well as instructional faculty.
Internal evidence suggests that
In the past six years, the College
has developed several documents that delineate specific goals and objectives
for ensuring student access and success. The Special Populations Proposal-1995
describes goals for outreach, services, and instruction to better meet the
needs of Native Americans and second language speakers in the community. The
Student Success Plan-1999-2001 describes specific activities to “Improve
Academic and Learning Support Services.” In 2003, a Learning Support Center
Proposal was developed through a coordinated effort involving college staff
including math, English and biology faculty, the Academic Achievement Center
Coordinator, DSP&S personnel, and the Deans of Arts and Sciences and
Vocational Education. The Proposal lists specific goals for developing a
While some of the objectives and activities in these plans have been accomplished, others have yet to be realized. It seems that the College has a fairly clear idea of what is needed for an integrated approach but has yet to find the means to accomplish well-conceived goals and objectives.
Access & Success
In the broadest sense, students
have access to college courses when they have or are able to acquire any set of
sub-skills that are recognized as part of a higher order set of skills. This perspective
underlies the global, across-the-curriculum approach to skill building
recommended by the State Academic Senate and adopted by
The College Matriculation Plan describes specific support services to improve access and success. The state-mandated categories addressed in this plan included:
· Counseling & Advisement
· Student Follow-up
· Research & Evaluation
Several objectives in the Columbia Matriculation Plan are important to mention. The first is the intention to provide modified and/or alternative services to ethnically diverse, language minority, and disabled students. Issues and goals related to these services are discussed in other sections of this report. A second important objective is the effort directed at ensuring that students participate in counseling and advisement and enroll in recommended pre-collegiate basic skills courses. Though counselors regularly advise students about the importance of acquiring pre-requisite skills by enrolling in recommended courses, students often ignore these recommendations.
The follow-up component of
the Matriculation Plan at
The Assessment component of
the Matriculation Plan is fully implemented at
Basic Skills Courses -
(offered at least once a year)
Not Recently Offered
(not offered in the last 3 years )
ENG 249- Writing Skills Workshop
ENG 250- English Fundamentals
ENG 151-Preparation for College
MATH 201-Math Concepts: An
MATH 202- Interactive Algebra
MATH 250-Individualized Computer
Based Math (ALEKS)
SKLDV 210- Introduction to
INDIS 270- Introduction to Library &
INDIS 278- Basic Skills for
MATH 210-Techniques for Small
Group Instruction in
OFTEC 210- Typing Speed and
OFTEC 215-Word Processing for
OFTEC 216-Inter/Adv Word
Processing for Personal Use
SKLDV 250-Sentence Writing
SKLDV 251- Diagnostic Learning
SKLDV 270- Basic English Skills
SKLDV 279- Preparation for College
SKLDV 287- Vocabulary
SKLDV 290- Study Skills
SKLDV 296- Applied Test-Taking
ENG 206- English as a Second Language
ENG 305-English as Second
SKLDV 300- GED Preparation
SKLDV 392-Applied Skills
A significant number of the
basic skills courses listed in the
· Enrollment-driven funding situations result in an inability to offer small classes;
· Insufficient funding becomes a barrier to offering quality instruction to basic skills students, especially in hiring appropriately trained, full-time Basic Skills instructors and providing adequate technology to support course offerings;
· Enforcing pre-requisites is idiosyncratic and inconsistent;
· Insufficient research results in a lack of content validity in establishing basic skills courses as pre-requisites to more advanced courses. When basic skills courses are not pre-requisites, students do not take the recommended courses despite assessment test results;
· Inadequate program coordination of the basic skills curriculum and instructors prohibits a comprehensive, integrated approach.
These points are consistent
with the difficulties
In addition to the assessment data that indicates that many students require basic skills instruction, other sources indicate the need for such classes. Advisory committees for CalWorks and DSP&S, have consistently indicated a need for increased basic skills course offerings. Vocational Education faculty regularly seek a means to offer basic skills instruction for their students. The Special Populations Proposal-1995 indicates that a Basic Skills Program is critical for the transition of ESL and Native American students into college-level courses.
accessibility for the disabled
Accessibility is the
particular concern of Disabled Students Programs and Services (DSP&S). The
program provides accessibility through support services, special equipment,
specially trained staff, and removal of architectural barriers. While DSP&S
conscientiously serves disabled students, the annual DSP&S allocation for
· The annual allocation for DSP&S is based in part on weighted student counts according to disability specific categories. The weighting is determined by relative cost for services with the Learning Disability (LD) category weighing more than “Other Disability” category. Students can only be placed in the LD category if they have been assessed by the California Community College Learning Disabilities Eligibility Model.
· Only a qualified LD Specialist can administer the extensive testing necessary to determine eligibility, a service which requires as much as seven hours per student.
Reduced funding for DSP&S
has imposed limitations on the staff available and the services provided which
in turn affects access and success for disabled students. In January 2006, two different
Focus Groups, comprised of students and staff, were convened to discuss
services and accessibility at
student success plan
The California Community College Chancellor’s Office has delineated specific indicators of student success, including student transfer rates, degree and certificate awards, and course completions, particularly vocational and basic skills course completion. The Columbia College Student Success Plan 1999-2000 identifies ambitious and comprehensive strategies to address and measure the prescribed indicators of success. According to the Plan, achieving meaningful student success requires identifying successful strategies and working to implement the strategies across the entire College community. To this end they have organized activities under the following themes:
· Improve student support services;
· Improve academic and learning support services;
· Undertake program and curriculum review to reconfigure, add and delete courses and programs as necessary;
· Increase outreach to the business community, local agencies, and local governments;
· Increase articulation to high schools and four-year colleges;
· Increase outreach and services in response to the needs of non-traditional and re-entry student populations;
· Increase student development and student life opportunities;
· Increase faculty and staff skills development and communication to create a more supportive environment for student success;
· Research to identify progress toward meeting the goals of the Student Success Plan.
Student success has to do with students attaining the educational, career, or personal goals which prompted them to enroll in college. However, students’ goals can be poorly defined or change considerably over the course of their time in college. The Student Success Plan describes a multifaceted approach to helping students design and achieve reasonable educational plans.
Unfortunately, the funding that was meant to support these activities was not forthcoming which interfered with full implementation of the Plan. Nevertheless, the Plan provided direction and many of the activities proceeded despite limited funding. Without a college Researcher, it is difficult to accurately assess how well the college progressed toward meeting the goals, but it is apparent that progress was uneven. In particular, there has been limited progress toward implementing the activities designed to improve academic and learning support services and increase student development and student life opportunities.
student learning outcomes
In newly defined standards,
the Accrediting Commission for Community Colleges and Junior Colleges Western
Association of Schools and Colleges require that colleges regularly gather and
report concrete evidence about what students know and can do as result of the participation
in a college course, program, or service. This evidence, referred to as Student
Learning Outcomes (SLO), can be regarded as measures of student success. In
fact, the SLO/Transformational Learning Committee at
As a result of recommendations following the recent Accreditation Team visit, the committee is taking an aggressive approach to establishing SLOs, including specific timelines and responsibilities, documentation, and assessments. The Committee has drafted College-wide SLOs to help guide the development of course, program, and service SLOs. The work on SLOs is relevant to promoting and measuring student success.
In Spring 2003, the
California Community Colleges Academic Senate published a document entitled “A
Survey of Effective Practices for Basic Skills.” The following table summarizes effective practices
and relates this to current practices at
Centralized programs, such as developmental education programs, correlate with greater success than decentralized programs. However decentralized programs can be equally successful with high levels of coordination and communication.
Research overwhelmingly supports the effectiveness of learning communities, which feature a cohort of students and two or more courses in which faculty collaborate in making curricular connections and focus on active learning and collaboration.
Courses in which reading and writing are taught as complex, interactive processes instead of as an accumulation of discrete skills.
The English department
recently revised the English 151 curriculum to include reading as part of a
course that was predominantly a composition course. The college has
curriculum for instruction in
Assessment & Placement
Mandatory assessment and placement are key components of successful programs. Mandatory placement is only effective in courses found to have satisfactory instructional methods, techniques, and success rates.
The college has mandatory assessment and recommended placement in English and Math courses. However, students who are not on degree or transfer track, often choose to not take these courses or other recommended basic skills courses
Tutoring by well-trained tutors certified by the College Reading and Learning Association (CRLA) is what identifies successful programs.
The college has a peer tutoring-training program that is CRLA certified. The AAC is open four days a week and offers peer tutoring for many of the college courses.
Supplemental Instructions (SI) targets “high-risk” courses, those that typically have high failure rates. Research indicates that students who participate in SI consistently show significantly lower rates of failing grades and higher average course grades than those who do not participate.
The college has offered SI for high risk courses (most notably Anatomy, Physiology, and Business Math) for 15 years. Statistics for SI consistently show lower rates of failing grades and higher course grades for students who participate than those who do not.
Classroom Assessment Techniques
Classroom Assessment techniques employ formative evaluation in the classroom for the purpose of improving teaching and learning. These techniques have been cited as one of the most successful higher education innovations in the decade of the 1990s.
The College has offered training in Classroom Assessment Techniques has, including a three-day extended training attended by 25 instructors in 1995 and training for VocEd faculty in 2004. There is, however, no data on instructor use of this technique.
The integration of classroom and laboratories appears to be an essential component in a successful developmental program. Such programs require collaboration between lab coordinators and faculty in course design and are most effective when labs are located near the instructional areas.
The Math lab is located adjacent to the math instructional areas and the coordinator works closely with faculty in that area. The Math Lab is open 7 hours a day/ 5 days a week. The Writing Lab is not adjacent to the English course instructional area, but the coordinator teaches English courses and works closely with English faculty. The Writing lab is open10 hours a week.
Instructors at best practice institutions use technology only to provide supplementary assistance for tutoring and practices outside of the class. Technology should not be relied upon as a primary instructional delivery system.
Pro-active counseling that is well integrated with instructional and other support services is most effective. Early intervention for at-risk students is crucial, with systems in place for early and ongoing communication between faculty, staff, and counselors
The Early Alert system has the potential to provide early intervention for at-risk students. The relocation of the AAC in the Manzanita building has improved communication between counseling and instructional support services, but there are no formal means of integration.
Faculty and Staff Development
Research indicates that an emphasis on training and professional development improves outcomes. Successful development education programs make staff development a priority and ensure that adjunct faculty participate. Ongoing, long term training programs with a combination of discipline specific and instructional/learning strategy topics are more effective than “one-shot” approaches. Faculty engaged in collaboration provide the kind of continuous learning that seems to be pre-requisite for transformation in learning.
Lack of funding for Staff
Development is a chronic problem at
Both internal and external sources site insufficient funding as a barrier to offering appropriate instruction and services to students who need skills development. An article in the Senate Rostrum suggests that “allocating resources means not only having the quantity of resources one needs, but using them in a reasonably efficient fashion.” Richard Mahon, author of this article observes that the current wide-spread practice of recommended placement means that many students choose to enroll in classes for which they are not prepared. He goes on to say that “the lack of a mandate that students begin developing [needed] skills in computation and communication . . . means that the limited resources available in many cases will be squandered.” Mahon concludes that if we wish to see increasing numbers of students succeed, we are going to have to explore efficient means of resource allocation as well as “find ways to get students to begin the process of remediation” early in the educational process.
State guidelines for
establishing prerequisites require that the course content in the pre-requisite
classes be validated as a necessary subset of skills for the subsequent course.
Since this process is time-consuming and often requires the oversight of a Researcher,
At the Strategic Conversation
in December 2005, staff began a discussion of the direction of growth at
SUMMARY OF The Problems
After reviewing external and
internal documents, the task force has identified the following problems at
1. The College has created several plans which define clear goals, objectives, and activities for ensuring student access and success, but for various reasons, significant portions of these plans have not been actualized. (e.g. Student Success Plan, Special Populations Proposal Learning Support Center Proposal, aspects of the Matriculation Plan.)
2. A significant number of students enroll in the college underprepared and/or insufficiently aware of college expectations and demands.
3. Students do not follow advice regarding assessment results and course placement. The result is that
· students who are not on degree or transfer track often choose not to take recommended basic skills courses because they are not required or are not pre-requisites to courses in the certificate program;
· students ignore advisories for courses and so are unprepared for the demands of the courses.
4. The mechanism for follow-up with at risk students is no longer functioning effectively.
· The Early Alert system is fraught with problems
· The system to monitor students who are on academic probation and dismissal is not functioning at all;
· Monitoring methods used by EOPS, DSP&S, and CalWorks attempt to fill in the void but are sometimes redundant for student and faculty and do not necessarily result in needed follow-up with students.
5. The college has not been able to maintain a viable Basic Skills Program, primarily because of an enrollment-driven funding situation.
6. There is not a clear and apparent means of communication among staff regarding consistent methods and practices for ensuring student access and success.
7. There is not a unified approach for assisting special populations (ESL, GED, CalWorks, Disabled, Native American students) in making successful application and transition to the college.
8. The College has not established clear and reliable means of measuring student access and success.
The work of the Task Force promoted lively discussion and elicited many useful ideas. In effect, we began thinking like the proposed advisory committee. This section of the report captures some of that thinking.
Conduct the business of the advisory committee like the Tools Team or the campus Technology Committee
· Create a plan that is connected to the EMP and uses existing plans or portions of plans as the source for some of the activities;
· Prioritize activities;
· Identifies lead persons for each activity
· Identify barriers to actualization and devise strategies to remove them.
Review current Basic Skills offerings
Offer basic skills courses at
off-campus sites i.e. high schools, the
Develop “life skills” courses that address issues that are typically barriers to education;
Provide year-round GED
preparation classes and other basic skills classes at
Infuse curriculum for all courses with objectives and activities that promote
Explore the possibility of exit-level competencies for graduation and certificates.
Disarm an underlying belief that basic skills are a Math and English department issue and therefore, it is the job of “those” instructors to ensure skill development.
Create norming sessions and staff development activities to assist all faculty in dealing with the students who demonstrate a lack of skills in writing.
List prerequisites and advisories in the Class Schedule.
Hire a full-time Learning Disabilities Specialist to provide not only the necessary LD assessment but also much needed intervention for disabled student, disability awareness training and liaison with college staff and community agencies.
Hire well trained basic skills instructors, who can also teach at the college level, for instance in English or Math.
Secure the Instructional
Assistant for the
Create regular, ongoing staff development opportunities that support a college-wide, consistent approach to student success and access.
Create/offer staff development activities that encourage faculty
Invite outside experts to offer training and guidance, e.g. Jennifer McBride, SPEC grant director from Merced College Basic Skills firstname.lastname@example.org.
Suggested topics for Staff Development activities include but are not limited to
Clearly identify the need for a center for learning support in the Master Facilities Plan.
When designing the permanent Calaveras site, take steps to develop a center that can be used as a classroom and lab for skills development, including ESL.
The need for a college Researcher is paramount to accomplishing the recommendations in this report. The following activities would be more like to occur if we had a college researcher:
Develop a college wide Student Learning Outcome that specifically addresses competency in reading, writing, mathematics, and computer literacy.
Develop partnerships with other county/community agencies, i.e. Job Connections of the Mother Lode, Department of Social Services; ATCCA, WATCH, Valley Mountain Regional Center to
During outreach to local feeder schools, explain and promote college-wise skills and sufficient information about pre-requisites and advisories.