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Release No.05.23.16-Basic Skills Grant
May 23, 2016
College Awarded $1.5 Million Student Success Grant

A three-year, approximately $1.5 million grant will enable College of the Canyons to expand existing programs, and implement new initiatives, that improve student success.

The Basic Skills and Student Outcome Transformation Program grant, a competitive award given by the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office, will fund efforts that help students successfully transition from high school to college, and move more quickly from remedial classes to college-level coursework and ultimately achieve their higher education goals.

“College of the Canyons is recognized as a statewide leader for creating innovative programs and services that boost student success and completion,” said COC Chancellor Dr. Dianne Van Hook. “This grant enables us to expand on our initial efforts and make these services widely available to more students. The end result will be a more streamlined path to graduation and transfer, or earning a certificate and launching a career in a fast-growing, well-paying industry.”

In all, the California Community Colleges Board of Governors approved $60 million in grant funding for the Basic Skills and Student Outcomes Transformation Program. A total of 43 community colleges across the state will receive a portion of the funds.

The grant is a response to the ongoing statewide need to improve student completion for students who enter college under-prepared for the academic rigor and increased coursework demands. According to the Student Success Scorecard for 2016, 80 percent of students who entered COC prepared for college met their goals for earning a degree and transferring, while 51.5 percent of underprepared students met their goals within the same time period.

One of the most effective strategies for closing that gap is the implementation of Math and English accelerated learning programs, which combine two classes into one, allowing students to move more quickly in college-level course work.

Math 75 prepares students who are not majoring in fields related to science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM) to take college-level statistics. It replaces a two-course sequence of basic algebra and intermediate algebra. And, English 96 replaces a two-course sequence that prepares students for the transfer-level curriculum in just one course.

College of the Canyons was recently recognized by both the California Community Colleges Board of Governors as well as the California Community College Chancellor’s Office for its “Accelerate Your Dreams to Reality” project, which is credited with helping improve math course completion rates and enhancing student success.  

The college’s acceleration efforts currently benefit more than 5,000 students per year and have resulted in one of the most robust offerings of accelerated math and English courses across the state of California. To date, students have saved more than 48,000 weeks of remedial instruction and more than $500,000 in tuition costs for remedial courses that do not count toward earning associate degrees.

 “The College has achieved wonderful success with its accelerated learning programs in Math and English, and this grant will now enable us to expand those programs even more,” said Audrey Green, COC’s associate vice president of Academic Affairs.

Additionally, the grant will be used to redesign and create new student success programs, all with an eye towards increasing overall student degree and certificate completion. These new programs include a revised First Year Experience (FYE) program and increased supplemental instruction, learning and tutoring.

FYE supports first-time, first-year college students with their transition to college life. Through yearlong academic classes, programs, and activities, students learn skills that enhance their college success.

“FYE helps students make the leap from high school to college, giving them the skills and confidence needed to successfully complete their educational goals,” said Denee Pescarmona, dean of instructional support and student success, and the grant’s project director. “This grant will allow us to revitalize that program and add more support for all our first-time students.”

And, with the creation of new Student Success Teams formed as part of the grant, all COC students will reap the benefits. These cross-divisional teams will bring together academic and student support services with counseling and student mentors to meet students where they are and lead them to achieving their academic and career goals.

By 2019, the final year under grant funding, COC will have implemented all of its objectives, leading to significant increases in the numbers of students who complete their certificates and degrees.​