Academic journal article Journal of Developmental Education

Basic Skills Crucial to Student Success

Academic journal article Journal of Developmental Education

Basic Skills Crucial to Student Success

Article excerpt

The results of a study commissioned by the California Community Colleges System Office identify basic skills development as one of seven key areas of focus in the initiative to improve student access and success in that state's community colleges. The report, prepared by the Center for Student Success, in affiliation with the Research and Planning Group for California Community Colleges, acknowledges that many community college students require developmental coursework in math and English in order to successfully participate in college-level courses.

To assist California community colleges' delivery of effective programs in these areas, the study included (a) an examination of successful basic skills practices in place at 33 in-state community colleges and 9 out-of-state institutions along with a comprehensive review of literature associated with basic skills education, (b) a self-assessment tool so that colleges can determine how current practices comply with best practices as identified in the literature, and (c) a cost/ revenue structure for developmental education programs to identify the financial benefit such programs can convey over time.

The study's authors note that adequate funding of basic skills programs needs to be sustained. At present many basic skills courses are noncredit and thus funded at about 60% of the rate of for-credit courses; therefore colleges may be disinclined to offer such courses. Through its review of literature and case studies of successful basic skills programs/practices, the study provides evidence that implementation of such practices in the California Community Colleges will be a worthwhile investment. Although the report acknowledges that there is no "magic pill" to provide immediate improvement in outcomes, it emphasizes that "the literature does show that sustained efforts over extended periods of time do transform institutions, and student success rates do improve over time" (p. …

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