In a retreat at Folsom Lake College, the Board of Governors for the California Community Colleges received a report from the state Chancellor’s Office on the progress made under the state’s Basic Skills Initiative and plans for the new $60 Million allocated by the legislature for the Basic Skills Outcomes Transformation program. The funds will support community colleges to implement or expand evidence-based practices that accelerate student progress and increase student completion of transfer-level English and math.
Executive Director Deborah Harrington briefed the Board on 3CSN’s broad professional development offerings, which have reached more than 18,000 community college practitioners to date. Harrington also highlighted results from the RP Group’s evaluation of CAP, which found large and robust increases in student completion of transfer-level English and math across all student groups.
CAP Co-Founder Katie Hern spoke about what the field has learned since the Basic Skills Initiative began in 2007. “We learned, first, that the metric that mattered most was not whether students passed a particular basic skills course – say, a math course three levels below transfer – but whether they went on to complete a transferable, college-level course. This is the most important early momentum point in students’ progress toward degree or transfer.”
“We also know a lot more about how to move this needle than we did in 2007,” said Hern, referring the Board to a new CAP publication, Acceleration Strategies that Produce Powerful Results. “Three strategies have been shown to produce significant increases in student completion of transfer-level English and math, gains of not just a few percentage points but double, triple, quadruple the student completion.”
“First, we can let more students begin directly in college-level courses without remediation, because they’re actually more prepared than we have believed. Second, we can provide students additional support inside college-level courses instead of requiring them to do stand-alone remediation, and third, we can replace multi-level basic skills sequences with well-designed and well-taught single-semester courses.”
Faculty from Irvine Valley College and College of the Canyons testified about the transformations their colleges been able to achieve through participating in CAP. English Instructor Summer Serpas reported that five times as many African-American students are now completing college English at IVC, and that the college is eliminating the traditional basic skills sequence in Spring ’16. Math Instructor Kathy Kubo reported that the statistics pathway at College of the Canyon has nearly tripled student completion of transfer-level math and that they have scaled up this pathway to reach 1,300 students each year.
One Board member commented that continuing these efforts was a “no brainer” for the system, and the Board discussed ways they and the Chancellor’s Office could support colleges to scale up these practices to benefit more students.
Report from Vice-Chancellor Pam Walker
Testimony from CAP Co-Founder Katie Hern
Handout: Powerful Acceleration Strategies CAP
Testimony from Summer Serpas, English Instructor, Irvine Valley College
Testimony from Kathy Kubo, Math Instructor, College of the Canyons