CAP Year in Review: Highlights from 3CSN's Annual Report to the Chancellor's Office

August 2014

The California Acceleration Project (CAP) supports community colleges to redesign English and math remediation to help more students complete college-level English and math requirements. Since 2010, all of California’s 112 community colleges have participated in our outreach efforts, and 47 colleges are offering redesigned English and math pathways through our extended professional development program. In 2013-14, approximately 10,000 California community college students enrolled in accelerated English and math pathways at CAP pilot colleges.

This spring, the Research and Planning Group for California Community Colleges (RP Group) released a study of student outcomes for the first cohort of 16 CAP colleges. This quasi-experimental study controlled for preexisting student characteristics and found “large and robust” gains in student completion of transferable courses:

  • In effective models of accelerated English remediation, students’ odds of completing a college-level course were 2.3 times greater than in traditional remediation;

  • In accelerated math pathways, their odds of completing college-level math (Statistics) were 4.5 times greater.

In examining various student subgroups, the researchers found that all students benefitted from effective accelerated pathways – including all racial/ethnic groups, all placement levels, low-income students, ESL students, students with disabilities, students with low GPAs, and students who hadn’t graduated from high school.

According to the researchers, “This evaluation found strong evidence that accelerated curriculum can be developed at multiple college sites in a short period of time with good results, particularly for those accelerated pathways that articulate directly with transfer-level gatekeeper courses.”

CAP Community of Practice

Teaching an accelerated course often looks quite different from teaching in a more traditional, longer remedial sequence. Given this, faculty need support as they begin teaching in these models, such as classroom-tested materials, pedagogical practices they can adapt, and other teachers they can talk with. The Community of Practice in Acceleration is a year-long professional development program for colleges offering at least two sections of an accelerated English, math, or ESL course.

We are now in our fourth cycle of the CAP Community of Practice. Since we began offering the program, more than 260 teachers from 47 colleges have participated, with several offering acceleratedScreen Shot 2014-08-15 at 7.32.24 AM courses in more than one discipline.

This year’s group features the largest number of faculty to date – 106 instructors from 22 colleges.

In three years, student enrollment in accelerated courses at CAP colleges more than tripled, from 3,200 in 2011-12 to over 10,000 in 2013-14.

At many colleges, faculty trained in earlier years of CAP are now leading local professional development programs to support their colleagues to teach in redesigned accelerated courses.

Outreach in California

CAP workshops and publications demonstrate that high attrition rates are structurally guaranteed in multi-level basic skills sequences, and that even low-scoring students are better served by shorter, accelerated options. Participants are introduced to an array of evidence-based approaches for increasing student completion of transferable English and math requirements, including placement policy changes, compressed courses, and redesigned pathways.

CAP workshops are rated highly by participants. At the spring 2014 regional workshop at West Los Angeles College, 94% of evaluations rated the event “Excellent” or “Good.” At the spring 2014 workshop at Chabot College, 100% of evaluations rated the event “Excellent” or “Good.”Screen Shot 2014-08-05 at 1.27.31 PM

CAP leaders gave an average of 2 presentations per month in California during the 2013-14 academic year, including:

  • The Strengthening Student Success Conference

  • USC Center for Urban Education: The Institute for Equity, Effectiveness, and Excellence at Hispanic-Serving Institutions

  • One-Day Acceleration Workshops in the Bay Area, Los Angeles, and Central Valley regions

  • Three events for community college trustees and presidents hosted by the Community College League of California

  • CMC3 Math Conference

  • Two briefings for policy makers in Sacramento

  • American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education, Student Success Institute

  • Statewide meeting of articulation officers for community colleges, UC, and CSU

  • Math remediation summit hosted by 20 Million Minds Foundation

National Outreach

The work of the California Acceleration Project has been spotlighted by several national organizations focused on increasing college completion, including Complete College America, the Education Commission of the States, Achieving the Dream, and the Community College Research Center. Through ongoing partnerships with these organizations, CAP leaders have addressed education and policy leaders from more than 40 states to date. They have also led statewide remediation reform workshops in 14 states. This year’s national outreach included:

  • Washington DC Policy Briefing: “Transforming Remediation to Improve Post-Secondary Attainment”

  • National Webinar: “Transforming Remediation: Understanding the Research, Policy, and Practice”

  • National Webinar hosted by Education First

  • Achieving the Dream Annual Conference

  • A Convening of 10 States: Countdown to 2015 – Developmental Strategies to Address Readiness in the Common Core Era

  • American Association of Community Colleges: CAP Co-Founder Myra Snell honored as one of four finalists for the national faculty innovation award

  • 6th Annual National Conference on Acceleration in Developmental Education

  • Convenings of community colleges in Minnesota, Florida, Washington, Colorado, Oregon, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania

Research and Publications

In 2013-14, a number of publications and research studies focused on the California Acceleration Project and its participating colleges, including

  • A third-party evaluation of 16 CAP pilot colleges by the Research and Planning Group for California Community Colleges

  • A third-party evaluation of Chabot College’s long-standing accelerated English course by the Screen Shot 2014-08-05 at 12.54.40 PMCommunity College Research Center, Columbia University

  • A Sacramento Bee Op-Ed piece by former California Senator and Secretary of Education calling for state investment in accelerated English and math

  • A syndicated news article about CAP Co-Founder Myra Snell’s nomination as one of four finalists for the national Faculty Innovation Award offered by the American Association of Community Colleges

  • A monograph by CAP co-founders Hern and Snell that articulates a set of core instructional principles and practices for redesigning remediation in English and Math, and illustrates how faculty can support students with widely varying backgrounds and skill levels to be successful in an accelerated environment

  • A policy brief about the growing national movement to prioritize statistics and quantitative reasoning and rethink the traditional one-size-fits-all, algebra-based approach to math remediation

  • Articles featuring CAP in Inside Higher Education and Diverse Issues in Higher Education


Areas of Impact


Related Resources