Transforming Basic Skills Delivery at Community Colleges: Minimizing the Exit Points on the Path to Student Success

September 23rd, 2015
Campaign for College Opportunity

By Campaign for College Opportunity

Executive Vice President Jessie Ryan

This year, California made a significant historic investment in redesigning remedial education. We now have an unprecedented opportunity to move the needle on student success. The Campaign stands ready to work alongside those willing, to ensure the integrity of this investment and the program’s successful implementation.

As the California Community College system embarks on the implementation of the Basic Skills and Student Outcomes Transformation Program, we urge the system to ensure these new monies are allocated effectively towards high-impact practices that will truly move the needle on student success.

We strongly believe the single greatest lever for moving the needle on student achievement, is addressing the way we deliver basic skills at our community colleges. The troubling reality is that somewhere between 70 and 80 percent of students entering community colleges, are assessed as below college-ready and need remediation in math or English or both. Even more disconcerting is that of these students, a staggering 60% will fail to complete their gateway English course and more than two-thirds will never complete college-level math, thus hindering their ability to meet both their college and career aspirations.

Fortunately, bright spots of redesigning remedial education exist and we have lifted-up several proven practices that significantly reduce the time students spend in remediation, while also yielding tremendous results, as detailed by the California Acceleration Project’s (CAP) outstanding faculty testimony at the recent Board of Governor’s meeting. CAP has also laid out strategies that are producing remarkable results and should be taken to scale statewide. With this in mind, the Campaign in partnership with the California EDGE Coalition, successfully led the effort to help colleges transform delivery of basic skills at community colleges.

The Basic Skills and Student Outcomes Transformation Program adopted in the 2015-16 Budget Act, provides a comprehensive approach to challenges colleges face in implementing high-impact basic skills redesign practices. The goal is to 1) substantially increase the number of community colleges students who complete college-level English or math, or both and/or 2) earn a college certificate or degree within two years.

The key elements of the program include:

The critical role that community colleges play in offering opportunity to all our citizens is unrivaled. Ensuring that opportunity leads to greater success for more of its students is the biggest opportunity to strengthen our economy and workforce.