The California Acceleration Project (CAP)
The California Acceleration Project is a faculty-led professional development network that supports the state’s 114 community colleges to transform remediation to increase student completion and equity. CAP is focused on one primary outcome: increasing the number of students who go on to complete transferable gateway courses in English and math, a critical early momentum point toward longer term degree and transfer outcomes. Between 2010 and 2016, all 114 California community colleges participated in CAP outreach workshops, and 84 colleges began implementing acceleration strategies with support from our extended professional development programs.
The Research and Planning Group for California Community Colleges (RP Group) examined student outcomes at the first 16 CAP colleges. This quasi-experimental study found that in accelerated math pathways, students’ odds of completing college-level math (Statistics) were 4.5 times greater than in traditional remediation. While results were more varied in English, the researchers found that in high-impact pathways, students’ odds of completing a college-level course were 2.3 times greater than in traditional remediation. In examining various student subgroups, they found that all students benefited from effective accelerated pathways – including all racial/ethnic groups, all placement levels, low-income students, ESL students, and students with disabilities. In a follow-up analysis of descriptive data, the researchers found that achievement gaps were eliminated for African-American students in CAP statistics pathways.
In the first five years of CAP, our objectives were to make the case for change to practitioners throughout the community college system, attract early initiator faculty who could navigate local politics and processes to get pilots on the ground, train faculty in high-challenge, high-support pedagogy, and gather student outcomes data to make the case for broader change. We have achieved those objectives and have now entered our next phase: scaling up. We want to expand accelerated pathways at participating colleges so that they become the norm rather than the exception. We also want colleges to implement additional acceleration strategies – in particular, adjusting placement policies and developing new co-requisite models. In short, we want to significantly increase student completion not just within a few pilot sections but across entire colleges.
CAP has received awards from the Association of California Community College Administrators, the Campaign for College Opportunity, and the Research and Planning Group for California Community Colleges. CAP Co-Founders Katie Hern and Myra Snell were named to the "16 Most Innovative People in Higher Education" by the Washington Monthly, and CAP efforts have been featured in the New York Times, Inside Higher Education, Diverse Issues in Higher Education, Black Minds Matter, Diversity and Democracy, EdSource, the Sacramento Bee, and KQED's California Report. CAP leaders have also addressed national audiences at events hosted by the American Association of Colleges and Universities, Achieving the Dream, Complete College America, and the Education Commission of the States.
CAP Co-Founder Myra Snell is the creator of Path2Stats at Los Medanos College, the first pre-statistics course in the country to provide a one-semester alternative to the traditional multi-level remedial algebra sequence. Along with CAP Co-Founder Katie Hern, Snell was named one of the "16 Most Innovative People in Higher Education" by the Washington Monthly. A nationally recognized expert in remedial math reform, Snell has worked with Carnegie-Mellon's Open LearningInitiative in Statistics and consulted with the Statway Project of the Carnegie Foundation for Teaching. In 2015, she was one of four finalists for the national Faculty Innovation award from the American Association of Community Colleges. Her past roles include serving as a Coach for the Faculty Inquiry Network and leading developmentaleducation and student outcome efforts at her college. She holds a master'sdegree in Pure Mathematics from the University of California, Berkeley.
Kathy Kubo is a Mathematics Instructor at College of the Canyons. As part of the first year of the CAP Community of Practice, Kubo helped create the college's redesigned statistics pathway, then led a faculty training program that enabled the college to dramatically scale up the number of sections offered. Canyons' statistics pathway has been honored by the state Chancellor's Office and the Board of Governors, and in 2015, the Campaign for College Opportunity honored Kubo for her leadership in transforming remediation. Kubo participated in a National Science Foundation grant on statistics education, and she has worked with Stanford University's Open Learning Initiative to revise their Concepts in Statistics courseware. She holds a master's degree in Mathematics from the University of California, Los Angeles.
Summer Serpas is an English instructor at Irvine Valley College. Serpas began working with CAP in 2012, when her college launched a two-section acceleration pilot. She then created a local training program for faculty and led her college's effort to scale up the course. IVC now offers only one level of remediation below college English. Serpas has shared her college’s experience at statewide and national conferences, and she has spoken about acceleration to the California Community Colleges Board of Governors and the California Assembly’s Budget Subcommittee on Education Finance. As Basic Skills Coordinator, Serpas helped secure a $1.5 million Basic Skills and Student Outcomes Transformation Grant for IVC. She holds a master’s degree in English from California State University, Fullerton.
Leslie Henson is an English instructor and former co-chair of English and Journalism at Butte College. After participating in CAP’s first Community of Practice, Henson worked with colleagues to pilot an accelerated English course and start a training program for faculty. She also led a change to the college’s placement policy that enabled twice as many incoming students to place directly into college English, then documented the results in an article that won a 2015 RP Group Award for Excellence in College Research. Henson was the first person profiled for the RP Group Series Making Change from the Middle: Recognizing Community College Middle Leaders. She regularly shares her research and ongoing work to transform remediation at statewide and national conferences. She holds a doctorate in English from the University of Florida.
Hal Huntsman has been teaching math for most of his life. As a full-time faculty member at City College of San Francisco, he focuses on closing achievement gaps for underrepresented students. In 2011, Huntsman participated in the CAP Community of Practice and helped develop the accelerated pre-statistics course at CCSF. He has taught the class every semester since. Huntsman also mentors new instructors in the course and is a leader on placement reforms at his college. He holds master’s degrees in English literature, from the University of Colorado, Boulder, and pure math from California State University, East Bay.