Plan designs path, allocates basic skills funding

Dilemmas in certain groups solved through individualized solutions

By Roxana Amparo, Associate Editor

The Equity Plan created objectives for English as a second language students to meet in order to create a pathway to their academic success.

In one year, the objective for Contra Costa College is to provide equal academic success throughout the student body, beginning with low-level courses.

“We don’t want students to get trapped in a cycle of failure,” Basic Skills Coordinator Nooshi Boran said.

Basic skills students include those in math, English, ESL or those below college level, Borhan said.

Based on information from the ESL completion analysis and findings, Latinos fall below the 80 percent mark, making them a target of improvement.

Latinos’ success rate is at 19 percent. By 2018, the goal is to reach 43 percent, in keeping with the highest performing group, that being Asian-Americans.

ESL professor Ruby Shelley said, “I do think it’s possible to focus on specific groups that need extra support and design interventions and support programs, for these students, that can help increase their success rate.”  

“We are looking at areas where students are struggling,” Boran said.

The Basic Skills Completion Committee is made up of faculty in all disciplines, working together to develop and make implementations based on student needs.

The Equity Plan’s focus is to increase access and course completion.

Each individual college receives funding from the state to target disadvantaged students within each college community.

Success indicators are used to measure the impact that underprivileged populations may face when dealing with issues of equal opportunity.

“I feel that investing in our faculty helps students as well,” Boran said.

With interventions from professors, students receive the support necessary to advance while taking courses.

Boran said they created an early alert system to figure out if students are placed in the right level of ESL.

In spring 2015 the ESL faculty developed and started offering ESL 108. The course is an orientation to college for ESL students.

Ruby said, “This course fulfills the same requirement as the online orientation for all community college students, but was designed and is taught with ESL students’ needs in mind.”

Students get help choosing classes at their level when they register as well as receiving a campus tour, she said.

ESL Chairperson Elizabeth Xiezopolski said they used to have more than 50 courses rather than the 23 they have now because enrollment has decreased.

She said a lot of it has to do with the lack of outreach in the community.

“We used to have an ESL Office with a secretary and one or two assistants, but we haven’t had our designated place,”  Xiezopolski said.

The ESL department staff is continuously working on outreach to expand their numbers.

Students entering into the program are acquainted with student resources on campus to help guide them while they take part in the ESL classes.  

Xiezopolski said, “The Welcome/Transfer Center is helpful. ESL students come to us and we send them there, where they at least have one person who speaks their language.”

The ESL department’s students speak a variety of languages including Chinese, Arabic, Spanish and Farsi.

Shelley said techniques and support programs that increase the success of a particular group of students could likely benefit the rest of the student population as well.

The ESL department was able to fund the workshops through the basic skills fund.

Hybridized versions of all of ESL’s writing courses were developed last spring, Ruby said.

Xiezopolski said the online workshops teach students how to use D2L for easy access to their homework.  

She is surprised students have a thorough understanding of cellphones, but when using computers find it challenging. For some students using a mouse is a challenge, she said.

“Technology has bypassed what students need.”