Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Cuyamaca College lands $1.5 million grant for student success programs

Cuyamaca College was awarded a $1.5 million state grant this week that expands on the college’s innovative programs to dramatically increase student success by reducing the remedial pipeline and better preparing students for college level coursework. 

“Cuyamaca College is deeply committed to student success for all students.  This grant will allow us to build upon efforts that shorten the bridge between developmental education and college completion,” Cuyamaca College President Julianna Barnes said. 

More than three-quarters of California community college students who take assessment tests before enrolling are assigned to one or more remedial courses in mathematics or English. Relatively few of those students successfully complete college-level courses in those subjects and go on to earn a degree or certificate. However, studies have found that the students could have succeeded if they had been enrolled in college-level math and English courses.

       The Basic Skills and Student Outcomes Transformation Program grant enables Cuyamaca and other colleges across the state to pilot innovative programs that better serve these students. The three-year grant to Cuyamaca College is among $60 million being distributed statewide by the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office.  It will enable Cuyamaca College to remain at the forefront in rewriting the rules for remedial education.

        Under the new grant, Cuyamaca College will develop programs to:
  • Change Placement Policies: Stop relying solely on assessment tests, which are often flawed indicators of ability, and use multiple measures – including informed self-placement and high-school grade point averages – to allow more first-time students to enroll directly into college-level courses.
  • Accelerate Remediation: Replace the traditional pipeline of several remedial English and math courses with accelerated single-semester courses that are aligned with a specific college-level course. Students designated to remedial math courses, for example, will be able to enroll in an accelerated, single-semester preparatory courses regardless of placement and previous course-taking history. A seven-course remedial pipeline in ESL will be replaced with a three-course model.
  • Implement Concurrent Enrollment Support Models: Students who are identified as underprepared for college-level math and/or English courses can enroll in a college-level course and a remedial support course at the same time.
            “The new programs at Cuyamaca College funded by this grant will allow many more students to benefit from a college education – students who would otherwise give up on earning a degree,” Cuyamaca College Mathematics Professor Terrie Nichols said. 

Money from the state grant will be used to fund instructional materials, teacher training programs, developing support courses, and paying for faculty. The grant will be overseen by Nichols, who led the grant application.  

Cuyamaca Collage has already developed programs that are significantly reducing remedial education requirements in English, math, and ESL for certain groups of underprepared students and English-language learners. Those students are successfully completing college-level English and math courses at significantly higher rates and in much less time, Barnes said. 

One particularly successful program at Cuyamaca College is the Stats Academy, which allows students to take a one-semester remedial math class instead of a lengthy series of classes before they are eligible to take a transfer-level statistics course. Studies showed that African-American students who completed Stats Academy were nearly five times more likely to successfully complete a college-level math courses than students who took the traditional route, and Latino students were more than four times as likely to do so than their counterparts.  

Faculty and staff throughout the past year have worked together to expand the effort in other academic disciplines. For example, beginning in the spring of 2017, the Mathematics Department will work with Allied Health, Ornamental Horticulture and Automotive faculty to offer accelerated math courses in those subject areas.  

“We want to transform teaching and learning at Cuyamaca College,” Barnes said.