Basic Skills as a Foundation for Student Success in California Community College (often referred as the “Poppy Copy” because of its color) presents research that shows that more than 75% of community college students need basic skills. At LATTC, 90% of incoming students need basic skills in writing, reading, arithmatic, and ESL.
We need to assess the entering students so we can work with them on their academic and career plan. Also we will be able to gather more precise data for evaluating our programs’ retention and persistence. As effective practice B1 of the Basic Skills as a Foundation… suggests, “Orientation, assessments, and placements are mandatory for all new students.”
Below are placement scores for incoming students in LA Community Colleges campuses.
Most of the entering students are 2 levels below the transfer level while only 1.9% is at college level.
The graph below shows the same data as in the English Placement chart, but this might be easier to interpret for “visual learners.”
Clearly, low performance in reading and writing will be an obstacle to students’ success whether in English, Fashion Design, Welding or History. It is difficult for these students to get a certificate, pass a state exam, write an essay or fill out an accident report without these skills. That is the reason the Basic Skills Plan of California calls for developmental education as “a clearly stated institutional priority” (A.1). In fact, “Programs with the highest student retention rates were located in institutions that considered developmental education to be a priority.”
The level shown by entering students regarding to math is even more dramatic. LATTC is the only college in the district that receives students with 5 levels below the transfer level. Almost half of the entering students are 4 levels below the transfer level while the percentage of students on the transfer level is almost zero. Institutional leadership can serve as a guide post beyond these challenges. It is utterly indispensable that, “Institutional leadership demonstrates a commitment to developmental education.” (A.1.2)
These alarming numbers indicate that a priority for our institution should be to provide the necessary tools for the students so that they can improve and success. Developmental education should be as the Basic Skills initiative states, “adequately funded and staffed.”(A1).