Basic Skills Completion:The Key to Student Success in California Community Colleges

The California Community Colleges educate approximately 2.4 million students each year. The majority of first-time entering students (approximately 70–80 percent statewide) need at least one pre-transfer level mathematics, English reading and/or writing, and/or English as a second language course. Recognizing this need, in 2005/06, California Community Colleges Board of Governors member George Kaplan spearheaded the effort for the Chancellor’s Office to focus system-wide attention on various obstacles our students face, including their need of basic skills.

Acceleration: An Opportunity for Dialogue and Local Innovation

The concept of accelerated courses in English, math, and more recently in ESL has variously caused enthusiasm, apprehension, and confusion throughout the California community colleges. The term “acceleration” can be applied to a wide variety of different curricular approaches, yet it has often been connected to very specific instructional models or associated by faculty with pressure to conform to pre-determined revisions of their curriculum.

Academic Senate Resolutions on Accreditation 1986 to the Present

When an accreditation issue or controversy arises across the state, representatives of the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges (ASCCC) are sometimes asked, “What’s the Senate’s position on this matter?” This might seem like an easy straightforward question to some, but as a democratic organization committed to reflecting the will of the whole rather than an individual or small group, the Academic Senate relies instead on a formal resolutions process in which positions are drafted, debated, and ultimately voted upon by the entire organization.

The Student Success Task Force Recommendations—What’s Next?

It’s hard to believe that the Student Success Task Force (SSTF) Recommendations were adopted by the Board of Governors less than two years ago, especially given the many changes that colleges have made, or will soon be making, with respect to various aspects of the functioning of their matriculation and counseling programs (see https://www.asccc.org/sites/default/files/SSTF_Final_Report_1-17-12.pdf for more information).

Collegial Consultation: The Art of Influencing and Being Influenced

I recently attended a large multi-college district’s “Shared Governance” symposium and found it very interesting to observe how impassioned we are about being heard, about having voice and influence upon our collective destinies. What I didn’t hear, until the panel’s student appointee spoke, was an equivalent passion towards hearing another’s voice, of being influenced by other perspectives and ideals. Leave it to the students to teach us what we should already know.

Integrating Adjunct Faculty into the College Community

One of the most frequent complaints expressed by colleagues around the state is how difficult it is to get volunteers for committee work and other activities around campus. Lately my answer to them has always been the same: Are you asking your adjunct faculty to participate, and if not, why not? Most people express surprise at this idea, but it is a thought worth considering.

The Insidious “D”

The “D” grade is a bad investment. It is bad for California and it is bad for students. To be honest, it is a false promise, a deceptive key to the gate of success.

California public education has long held to the grading standards of the “A, B, C, D, F, P, NP” system, with the occasional plus/minus thrown into the mix. “A, B, C and P” represent success. They are the letters you wear on your scout sash to show the achievements you have realized and the hurdles you have overcome. “F and NP” are for failing. These aspects of the system are plain and simple.

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