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Tracking Student Progress through Basic Skills: A Discipline Framework

The attention that’s been paid over the three years to basic skills and the way our California community colleges support student success has caused us to examine many areas of our practice. This chapter chronicles an amazing story of faculty collaboration and system-wide investigation. The result of this work, created through many hours of faculty involvement, is a rubric, a tangible and useful foundation for looking at our basic skills coursework through the eyes of discipline faculty, the curricular experts.

The story begins with a mystery. Many faculty, researchers and administrators discovered that the numbers for their colleges didn’t make sense when they received their yearly Accountability Reporting for Community Colleges (ARCC). Before we get to why this mystery occurred, let’s understand what we’re talking about here. The ARCC is required by law (Assembly Bill 1417, 2004) and provides the public and the Legislature with outcome measures for the California Community College System and for each individual college. Several types of data are reported, such as course success, number of degrees and certificates, etc. Three measures that relate to basic skills are reported statewide and then also calculated for each college. The 2009 statewide basic skills data are below and an explanation of these measures are found in appendices 1-4 (CCCCO, 2009, p. 28).

Basic Skills Course Completion is the success rate for students completing a basic skills course in a given year. The number of enrollments that earned an A, B, C, CR, or P is divided by the total number of enrollments and reported as a percentage (CCCCO, 1994, p.8.026). See Appendix 2 for the complete definition.

Basic Skills Course Improvement is the percentage of students who successfully complete a basic skills course and then within three years successfully complete the next higher level course. See Appendix 3 for the complete definition.

ESL Course Improvement is the percentage of students who successfully complete an ESL course and then within three years successfully complete the next higher level ESL course. See Appendix 4 for the complete definition.

Chapter 12                                                                                                                                  2

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