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Chancellor's Office Report Acknowledges Need to Increase Basic Skills Instruction Statewide

Posted on 10/24/2011


Legislation enacted last September instructed the Community College Board of Governors to convene a taskforce to look at ways to improve student outcomes in the community college system. A draft of their report, Refocusing California Community Colleges toward Student Success, is now posted in draft form.

Among the many draft recommendations by the taskforce is a chapter on improving the education of basic skills students. The chapter acknowledges that "60 percent of all entering college students asses as needing basic skills remediation." (p.39) Only about ten percent of these students are enrolled in basic skills coursework at the colleges. The report does not recommend that the colleges should make remediation of basic skills a priority, but does recommend that the state "develop a comprehensive strategy for addressing basic skills education" that provides math, English and ESL instruction for all adults.

One section discusses "the demise of adult education" since flexibility was instituted in 2009-10, stating that based on "recent estimates," school districts have cut more than $400 million from adult education programs. These cuts have put more pressure on the colleges to provide basic skills instruction which they are unable to fully address because of their own budget situation. It calls on the legislature and the governor to "determine whether these programs would best be placed in the K-12 or community college system and provide funding commensurate with the task." (p. 45)

There is a great deal of discussion currently within the community college system about the recommendations. For example, some non-credit community college ESL programs are concerned that courses more than two levels below credit courses may be eliminated. Others see the recommendations as logical in a time when there is not enough funding to pay for an adult education system that is redundant in some areas.

Public meetings will now be held to take input on the recommendations. A schedule is posted on the Chancellor’s Office Web site. Comments may also be submitted online.