A Comparative Policy Analysis of Basic Skills Education in Peralta Community College District

Lillian Mano. MPP 2012

The Status of California Community Colleges Today: Critical to California’s Future

Community colleges have long served as a beacon of democratized educational opportunity. Since 1901, community colleges have sought to provide accessible and quality education to anyone desiring upward mobility and personal educational achievement through post-secondary education. California community colleges (CCCs) provide instruction to 2.6 million students annually and California community college students account for 25 percent of the nation’s community college student population.[1] California community colleges are the state’s largest workforce provider, CCC’s train 70 percent of California’s nurses and 80 percent of firefighters, law enforcement personnel, paramedics and other emergency workers. Students who earn a California community college degree or certificate nearly double their earnings within three years.[2] Community colleges’ “open door” enrollment policies have traditionally served returning, underprivileged, and non-traditional aged student populations who seek an educational goal such as transfer to a four year institution or improved job skills offered through certification programs or an AA degree.

In California, access to higher education, specifically transfer to four year institutions and baccalaureate attainment for underrepresented students of color is primarily gained through the community colleges. Nearly 80% of African American and Latino college students are found in community colleges.[3] Today, California community colleges are currently enrolling unprecedented levels of new high school graduates, first time college students, and traditional aged young adult students. This trend is being driven by two primary factors:

  1. Increased demand for higher education
  2. UCs and CSUs denying entry to qualified applicants because of lack of funds

Critical Demand for Higher Education

Demand for higher education has increased exponentially over the past forty years: a generation ago less than half of high school graduates went to college. By 2001, two thirds of high school graduates did.[4] When looking to the future, demand for education can only be projected to increase with the progressively globalized workforce and economy: “Employers and students today are demanding a higher level of education and training, the Bachelor’s degree has replaced the Associate’s degree as the preferred entry-level degree for many jobs that pay well and offer opportunities for promotion.”[5]

Students today are more ambitious than ever. A “college-going culture” has permeated high schools, with 90 percent of all high school students reporting their intention to attend college.[6]  Among these students starting their post-secondary education at a community college, 70 percent expected to earn a Bachelor’s degree or more, and 80 percent expected to earn at least an Associate’s degree. Even among students enrolled in a certificate program, 60 percent expected to earn at least an Associate degree at some point.[7]

Reduced Supply: Community Colleges Tasked With Picking up the Slack

Over the past thirty years, enrollment in community colleges has increased five-fold, and in 2003 community college students constituted half of all college enrollments.[8] The past decade alone saw California community college enrollment increase by nearly half a million students and is expected to increase by another 350,000 by the end of this year.[9]

This period of rapid growth within California’s post-secondary institutions has coincided with continued budgetary cuts. Between 2000 and 2003 the California UC system was hit with an 18 percent reduction in general fund support and the California CSU system experienced a 3 percent reduction. As a result, in 2004 California UCs and CSUs collectively denied admission to 11,400 eligible freshman applicants, deferring them to community colleges with the promise of guaranteed admission upon completion of their lower-division courses.

More and more UCs, CSUs, and certification/licensing programs such as Nursing, are declaring their schools or programs “impacted”. An “impacted” school or program is one which receives more applications from fully qualified applicants than it can accommodate. These qualified students are deferred to Community Colleges and are guaranteed transfer as juniors. Today, CCCs enroll 75 percent of California’s college students.[10]

Low Success Rates in Community Colleges

Despite overflowing qualified UC and CSU applicants being funneled into community colleges and high levels of student ambition, actual educational attainment (earning a degree, certificate, or transfer to a four year institution within 6 years of initial enrollment) is declining.

In California, only 40 percent of degree-seeking, first-time students actually transfer to a baccalaureate granting institution within six years of enrollment in community college.[11] For African American students, only 34 percent achieved transfer, and for Latino students, only 31 percent were successful.[12] There was no data on the success rates of returning students or students seeking transfer within the expected two year community college timeframe.

According to the National Center for Higher Education, California’s overall student success trajectory is so dire that California is at risk for failing to meet global workforce needs. Population and demographic change, coupled with diminishing rates of educational attainment, may result in dire consequences for the state as a whole. Specifically, continued educational under-achievement will result in a substantial decrease in personal per capita income between now and 2020 and may ultimately place California last among the 50 states.

The Role of Basic Skills in Low Student Success Rates

Low success rates in basic skills education (also known as remedial education or developmental education) are a primary contributor to low student attainment rates in CCCs as a whole. More than 70 percent of community college students enter the system unprepared for college level courses.[13] Most of these students will be required to take at least one basic skills course. Student success rates in basic skills courses are shockingly low. In fact, basic skills courses/remedial education may be the single biggest gatekeeper to educational success.

The number of basic skills education courses a student is required to take prior to enrollment into transferrable courses is negatively correlated with their likelihood of ever achieving an educational goal. Of the students who enter California community colleges at one level below transfer-level Mathematics, only 42 percent ever achieve a certificate, degree, or transfer preparation. That means over half will never graduate from community college. Of students entering four levels below, only 25 percent ever achieve one of those outcomes.[14] Research has shown that most basic skills programs are low quality and have not been proven to help students move onto college-level coursework.[15]

The reality of basic skills education is that large numbers of students drop out of college completely because they find they cannot pass the basic skills courses. Low success rates in basic skills programs perpetuate low success in community colleges as a whole.Dropping out of community college because of failure to pass basic skills courses is an example of what researchers have defined as an “exit point” or “loss point”.[16]

An “exit point” represents a student’s potential failure to complete a micro-milestone. In concrete terms, it is a student’s decision to continue enrolling in basic skills courses despite potential failures.The lower the level of basic skills a student starts with, the more classes they will have to take before being eligible for transfer-level courses. Therefore, the longer that a student must stay in basic skills, the more exit points this student must persevere through. For example, a student placing two levels below transfer-level level courses faces five exit points:

  1. Do they pass the first course?
  2. Do they enroll in the next course?
  3. If they enroll, do they pass the second course?
  4. If they pass, do they enroll in the college-level course?
  5. If they enroll, do they pass the college-level course?

If a student places three levels below the transfer-level course, they face seven exit points. If four levels below, the student faces nine exit points. This system seems to disadvantage the very students who face the greatest challenges to begin with.

A “loss point” differs slightly from an exit point in that it is defined in macro-milestones rather than micro.  Loss points represent key points in a student’s path towards attainment (AA degree, certificate, transfer-preparedness) in which the student is most likely to falter or drop out completely. In essence, each loss point represents a major gatekeeper to student success. However, according to the Student Success Taskforce, each time a student progresses beyond a loss point, the likelihood of reaching his or her educational goal increases. These loss points include:

  1. Successful completion of basic skills competencies
  2. Successful completion of first collegiate level mathematics course
  3. Successful completion of first 15 semester units
  4. Successful completion of first 30 semester units

Decreasing exit points as a whole or increasing student success through micro-milestones (exits points) will contribute to student success through macro-milestones (loss points) as a whole. Improving student success in basic skills education is critical to improving educational attainment in California as a whole.

Peralta Community College

The Peralta Community College District is comprised of four campuses in the San Francisco East Bay Area: Laney College and Merritt College both located in Oakland, Berkeley City College located in Berkeley, and College of Alameda located in Alameda.The mission of the Peralta College District is to provide “accessible, high quality adult learning opportunities to meet the educational needs of the multicultural East Bay community. We empower our students to achieve their highest aspirations and develop leaders who create opportunities and transform lives.”[17]

Peralta Demographics

In the Fall 2011 semester, the four Peralta campuses served a total of 26,740 students. Of the 26,740 students, 14,503 were women, 10, 559were men and the remaining 1,640 were not recorded or declined to state their gender. The largest represented age demographic of students attending Peralta’s Colleges were students aged 19-24. Daytime students outnumber Evening students nearly 3 to 1.

Report Objectives

This report is a comparative analysis of three basic skills education programs and interventions that could potentially be applied to the Peralta College campuses. The objective of this report is to recommend a program that will increase the percentage of student success in basic skill English and Math courses.   I define a “basic skills” course as one that is not transfer level and thus does not directly contribute towards the requirements for an AA, certificate, or transfer. This report is not applicable to students who are attending community college for personal enrichment.

My Objective is to recommend a new basic skills program which will:

  1. Increase student completion rates through basic skills requirements
  2. Demonstrate the greatest impact while using the fewest resources
  3. Best meet the mission of the Peralta district


Status Quo

Currently, Peralta funnels new students through a series of steps which comprises an official enrollment in the college –

  1. Apply Online
  2. Attend a college orientation and complete an assessment test
  3. Report to a counselor for course planning
  4. Activate student account, enroll in classes, receive course schedule

Course placement is determined using a multiple measures method, meaning, that multiple aspects are taken into account when considering appropriate level of coursework, including the assessment test score, date of the student’s  last enrollment, and transcripts (if applicable). Based on the enrollment assessment, a new student may be placed in a basic skills English or Math course. Students seeking an educational goal of an AA degree, certificate, or transfer to a state college or university must complete English 1A. The progression from English 269A through English 1A represents two years of basic skills coursework, which does not count towards transferrable credit. Students seeking an AA degree or certificate must complete either Math 13, 15, or 50. Student seeking transfer to a four-year institution must complete Math 13 or 15.

In the Fall 2011 semester nearly 25 percent of Peralta students were enrolled in at least one basic skills course.[18] The overwhelming majority of students in basic skills courses are students of color. In 2011, 77 percent of students in basic skills Mathematics courses were students of color. In basic skills English courses, 78 percent were students of color.[19]

Course Completion

Student pass rates in basic skills courses are low. From 2002-2007, Peralta tracked six student cohorts entering basic skills courses two levels below the transferrable level English and Math course respectively. These cohorts were tracked through the basic skills English and Math course sequence beginning from Math 253, through Math 201, to Math 203 and English 201A, to English 201B, and finally to English 1A (transferrable level English) respectively. Students were tracked using flow success rates through each course. Flow success rates are the number/percentage of students in the initial cohort who earned a grade of C or better in the indicated place in the sequence. Basic skills success rates at each college campus were dismal. In Math, only 12 percent of the original cohort successfully persevered through the course sequence and passed Math 203. In English, only 28 percent were successful.

Alternative 1 – Expand Student Success Learning Communities

College of Alameda is currently operating three integrated learning communities. This model combines the demonstrated success of learning communities with the equally promising practice of integrated coursework, and culturally responsive pedagogy.

A learning community is an academic and organizational model in which students are categorized by educational goals or majors then grouped together in cohorts with whom they take a set number of courses together. Participation in learning communities have been associated with many positive outcomes for students including: increased accountability, greater student engagement, higher success rates, greater retention, successful completion of more credits, greater likelihood of students’ enrolling in more courses, faster and increased success rates in basic skills education.[20]

Integrated Learning is characterized by linking coursework between two or more course. The objective of course linking is to make material from these independent courses more relevant to the student and to highlight similar themes across disciplines. For example, integrating common themes between an English course and a Humanities course may result in students becoming more engaged in the coursework. Integrated Learning has been associated with greater success in basic skills courses as well as faster progression through.[21] College of Alameda currently operates three of these integrated learning communities.

Necessary Execution/Resources

The creation of learning communities at the remaining three Peralta College District campuses would require three primary staff members for its successful operation:

  1. Coordinator
  2. Counselor
  3. Instructor

Each learning community may also employ and/or coordinate with additional staff such as:

  1. Instructional Aides (College of Alameda recruits 2nd year Graduate students from Mills College)
  2. Collaboration with EOPS and DSPS
  3. Student Mentors

Coordinator – The primary function of the coordinator is to direct the implementation of the learning community, coordinate closely with the counselor and instructor, and oversee learning community operations throughout each semester. The program coordinator is responsible for multiple additional oversight tasks including, but not limited to:

  • Development and implementation of learning communities among faculty, staff, and students
  • Oversee counseling services to ensure retention and success
  • Recruit students
  • Budget oversight
  • Train and supervise faculty, staff, and student mentors
  • Collaborate with the Office of Institutional Research in tracking student outcomes

(Chan, Ferrero-Castaneda, Green, 2010)

Counselor – The counselor has the dual task of advising the students in the learning community and teaching the College Success and Personal Growth courses. Counselors work closely with the English Instructor and Coordinator to ensure alignment with both the English curriculum and academic senate guidelines.

Duties as a learning community counselor also include:

  • Provide on-going personal and academic counseling
  • Prepare and maintain student educational plans for program participants
  • Assist students in all aspects of the transfer process including: application, personal statements, letters of recommendation, scholarship information etc
  • Providing appropriate interventions for students at academic risk

(Chan, Ferrero-Castaneda, Green, 2010)

Instructors – The instructors in each learning community must have a dedication to the learning community model as well as an appreciation and understanding of the cultural structure of the program. Instructors’ must be able and willing to create a curriculum which highlights the cultural heritage and contributions of people of color through incorporating work by authors of color and literature acknowledging their ethnic history.

Case Study – College of Alameda

In 2010 College of Alameda launched three culturally focused learning communities on their campus. Each learning community is thematically organized to enhance the educational experience and success rates of African American, Latino, and Asian American students. However, students of any ethnicity can and do participate in these learning communities.

Student cohorts in these learning communities take an accelerated, culturally-focused English course paired with a counseling/study skills course. These learning communities use African American, Latino, or Asian American readings and authors to promote successful learning strategies.

College of Alameda Student Success Learning Communities

Adelante – Spanish meaning “Onward Movement Amandla – Zulu meaning “Power” APASS – “Asian/Pacific American Student Success”
Latino Writers and ThemesEnglish 269A or English 269B& Counseling 224 English 201A or English 201B& Counseling 30 African-American Writers and ThemesEnglish 269A or English 269B& Counseling 224 English 201A or English 201B& Counseling 30  Asian-American & Pacific Islander Writers and ThemesEnglish 269A or English 269B& Counseling 224 English 201A or English 201B& Counseling 30

Each learning community offers either English 269A or B paired with Counseling 24 (College Success) or English 201A or B paired with either Counseling 24 or Counseling 30 (Personal Growth). Students may also take additional courses with their cohort including: Math, Psychology, Political Science, Computers, and Keyboarding. Students in English 269AB may also participate in a student Mentor-Mentee program which provides further assistance with coursework.

Students of any ethnicity can enroll in these learning communities. Whether a student’s ethnicity matches that of the learning community theme seems to make little difference as the culturally relevant and integrated coursework has proven to be very successful in increasing the success rates of students enrolled in these learning communities.

Student Success & Retention Rates: Learning Communities VS Traditional Basic Skills

Student Success Learning Communities: English 269 AB
Traditional Basic Skills:
English 269 AB
Student Success Rate
Student Retention Rate
Student Success Learning Communities: English 201 AB
Traditional Basic Skills:
English 201 AB
Student Success Rate
Student Retention Rate

Students who participate in the Student Success Learning Communities pass the English 269 and English 201 at between 15-20% higher rates than students enrolled in traditional basic skills English courses. Student retention is approximately 20% higher in Student Success Learning Communities.

Alternative 2 – Compression Acceleration

An objectives-based definition of an accelerated basic skills program is to reduce the sequence length of basic skills courses and eliminate exit points.[22] The hallmark of an accelerated basic skills course, sometimes referred to as “compression” basic skills, is to simultaneously challenge and support students through an intensive basic skills course which will expedite their progression towards transfer and associate level courses. This model would involve compressing similar-level courses into a single intensive course. This intensive course would include a supplemental support course to assist students with the accelerated and challenging pace of the course. When applied to Peralta courses, the acceleration model would combine English 269A and English 269 B into a single course. English 201A and English 201B would also be combined.

In mathematics, Mathematics Arithmetic 250 and Pre-Algebra would be combined. Mathematics Elementary Algebra and Intermediate Algebra would also be combined. If the compression of these courses were implemented, students would be required to take only two semesters of basic skills Math and English courses, effectively cutting their time spent in basic skills in half.

Each of these accelerated courses would be accompanied by an intensive tutoring course which could be taught by the same instructor or a collaborating instructor’s assistant. The purpose of the intensive tutoring course is to allocate time for one-on-one attention, answer students’ specific questions about the coursework or homework, and simply provide students’ accessibility to their instructor and encourage behaviors which will maximize their likelihood of success in the class. Accelerated classes would also feature smaller class sizes, between 8-12 students, for optimized instructor attention and a cohort-like atmosphere. The accelerated courses would be implemented in addition to the traditional basic skills courses. If a student was unable to pass the accelerated class, he or she would then be redirected into the appropriate traditional length basic skills course.

Necessary Execution/Resources

Instructors and counselors would be the two primary faculty members involved in accelerated courses.

Instructors – Instructors would need to be recruited to teach the accelerated program. Recruited instructors must be willing and able to design a course syllabus which succinctly compresses a years’ worth of course content into a single semester.

These accelerated courses would require classroom space, the creation of new course sections, and would have to meet the requirements of the academic senate.

Counselors – Counselors would be partially responsible for referring students to the accelerated courses over traditional basic skills courses. At minimum, it would be necessary that counselors make students aware of the accelerated option.

Case Study – Citrus College Compressed Basic Skills Courses

In the Fall 2011 semester Citrus College in Glendora, California restructured its entire basic skills curriculum, from a six course basic skills sequence to a single intensive 5-unit English basic skills course.

Citrus College developed a new basic skills intensive English course which utilized both their Reading and Writing instructors through professional development that “cross trained” these instructors in the other area.[23]

With all Reading and Writing instructors now teaching both disciplines rather than separating the two subjects, Citrus College was able to create enough of the 5-unit English courses to serve all their basic skills students, resulting in:

  • Reduction in exit points on students’ path to completion
  • Saved money
  • Increased course offerings
  • Increased collaboration among faculty

At the close of the inaugural semester of the intensive basic skills English course, student completion was 70 percent.[24]

Alternative 3 – Mainstreaming Basic Skills Students

Mainstreaming involves placing basic skills students into a transfer-level course instead of a basic skills course, but providing such students with additional support in the form of supplemental instruction, additional lab hours, tutoring provided by instructor’s assistants or other tutor, or a support course paired with the transfer-level course.[25]

Similar to the compression acceleration model, students are challenged yet supported. The time spent in basic skills courses is greatly reduced or eliminated depending on how students are selected to be mainstreamed.

Necessary Execution/Resources

The successful execution of mainstreaming basic skills students into transferrable courses requires the participation successful collaboration between counselors, course instructors, and instructional assistants.

Counselors – Establishing entry criteria for the mainstreaming program would be critical to its success. Students who have recently been enrolled in school and students who scored near transfer-level proficiency on assessment tests would be obvious choices for mainstreaming. As discussed previously, counselors at Peralta Campuses use a multidimensional assessment to determine student placement. Using this type of analysis, counselors may also measure other student characteristics such as motivation or other intangibles. Once protocols were established, a set number of slots in each English and Math course would need to be reserved for mainstreaming a portion of basic skills students. Counselors and Instructors would maintain close coordination to ensure mainstreamed students were supported and monitored throughout the semester.

Instructors – Instructors must be committed to the success of all students in their classrooms and able to devote additional time to providing students with extra support and collaboration with other faculty members involved in supporting students’ success.

Instructional Assistant (Optional) – Instructors teaching these mainstreamed courses must also either teach the companion tutoring course or actively collaborate with an instructional assistant who would teach in his or her place.

Case Study – Community College of Baltimore County’s Accelerated Learning Program

Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC) launched an Accelerated Learning Program (ALP) in 2007 focusing on basic skills English students. Students who were assessed into the upper-level basic skills English courses were “mainstreamed” into the college-level English class (English 101) and simultaneously enrolled in a companion tutoring-course taught by the same instructor. Eight slots were reserved in each college-level English course for mainstreamed students.

The objective of ALP was to maximize the likelihood of student success in the college-level English course. The results demonstrated that students who were mainstreamed not only passed transfer-level English (English 101) in higher rates, but participation was also correlated with greater success in transfer-level English (English 102).

Teacher’s College at Colombia University evaluated the success of the ALP program using multivariate analysis and controlling for factors such as: student level-covariates, full or part-time status, whether students were taking the course for the first time, first-semester college students, and student motivation. The rates of success between mainstreamed students versus student who took the traditional route for basic skills completion were statistically significant and demonstrated the increased success rates of mainstreamed students. For example, 74% of students who participated in the mainstreaming program passed college-level English within one year of participation, while only 38% of students enrolled in traditional basic skills English courses passed college-level English within that same year.[26]

While mainstreaming students is at the outset, more expensive than traditional basic skills courses, by using a cost effectiveness analysis (CEA) it was found that mainstreaming is actually more cost-effective than traditional courses. In addition, a cost benefit analysis (CBA) found that the benefits of mainstreaming were more than double the costs.


This objective of this report is to recommend the basic skills program which will most effectively and efficiently:

  1. Increases the percentage of students who complete basic skills requirements (Effectiveness)
  2. Demonstrates the greatest impact while using the fewest resources (Efficiency)
  3. Best meets the mission of the Peralta District to provide quality educational opportunities to a multicultural population (Equity)
Status Quo
Integrated LCs
Administrative Feasibility

Each alternative was evaluated on the degree to which it met each of the three objectives listed in the previous paragraph. Administrative feasibility was assessed in terms of the monetary cost of each program, the number of staff required to administer each program, and length of time necessary to successfully implement each program.

Integrated Learning Communities

  • Increased Academic Achievement
  • Increased GPA
  • Increased Credit Accumulation
  • Increased Self-Reported Learning
  • Greater Retention and Persistence
  • Increased Academic Achievement
  • Increased Credit Accumulation
  • Increased Self-Reported Learning
  • Greater Retention and Persistence

Effectiveness (Medium/High) – Integrated learning communities are highly effective in increasing student engagement, retention, and success.[27] Learning Communities have been found to contribute considerably to building a sense of academic and social support within the classroom and college alike. Student participation in Learning Communities has been correlated with numerous positive outcomes including:

In the 2010 fall semester at College of Alameda, student success rates in English 269 were 20 percent higher in the Student Success Learning Communities than in traditional Basic Skills courses. Student success rates in English 201 were approximately 15 percent higher than non-LC students. Retention was 20 percent higher in Student Success Learning Communities than in traditional Basic Skills courses. Simply stated, participation in Student Success Learning Communities increased student success rates through basic skills courses as well as overall retention.

However, Student Success Learning Communities do not reduce the basic skills course sequence or exit points student must progress through. A lengthy basic skills sequence may continue to discourage some students and continue to contribute to low perseverance rates.

Efficiency (High) – Integrated learning communities are highly efficient. Integrated learning communities are already operating on the Alameda campus and are producing highly successful results despite the current budget constraints. Coordination between counselors and instructors is both beneficial for students and achievable for faculty. Student Success Learning Communities are financially viable and are meeting the needs of Peralta students.

Equity (High) – Learning communities are also highly equitable. Any student can participate in a learning community. As discussed previously, College of Alameda learning communities are founded on a progressive definition of equity. This philosophy strives to meet students where they are academically and acknowledges that some students require additional support or resources to achieve truly equitable educational outcomes. Alameda College’s learning communities are organized around a cultural theme which not only contributes to meeting the college’s mission to provide accessible educational opportunities to a multicultural student population but also engages students in a relevant way. By including culturally relevant materials into traditional English courses, students experience an integrated understanding of themselves within the context of the academic environment.[28]

Administrative Feasibility (Medium) – Integrated Student Success Learning Communities require three dedicated faculty member per Learning Community. Additionally LC’s require a significant level of collaboration between these faculty to facilitate the success of the program and the students. LC’s must be organized thematically as well as pedagogically. Learning community directors, instructors, and counselors must maintain open communication about students and coursework to ensure student success. This level of coordination may require additional hours from Learning Community faculty.

Lack of coordination has been shown to directly impact the effectiveness of the program. In 2011, the instructor of the Amandla Student Success Learning Community, defaulted on her responsibilities as instructor and ceased any efforts at collaboration with the coordinator and counselor of the program. Student success rates in the Amandla Learning Community dropped to significantly lower rates than ever before in previous semesters and lower than the success rates of the two other learning communities that same semester. Low success rates in the spring 2011 semester are thus attributed to teacher disengagement.

Conversely, successful and engaged collaboration between Learning Community faculty members may result in the creation of a network of support which is beneficial to students and faculty alike. In other words, the additional effort of collaborating between departments and staff may be offset by the positive support instructors and counselors receive. Furthermore, collaboration may result in increased staff efficiency.


Integrated Learning Communities have shown great success on the Alameda campus. The success of this program not only establishes its clear alignment with the needs of Peralta students but that the implementation of this program is attainable on a Peralta campus.

Faculty members who participate in the administration of the new learning communities on the Laney, Merritt, and Berkeley City campuses will have the model and assistance of College of Alameda as the parent program. Integrated Learning Communities have created a pocket of success on the Alameda Community College campus. However, to achieve more widespread improvement in completion rates, this program must be brought to scale.

Bringing any program to scale requires a long-term commitment of time and resources for its success. This type of commitment must genuinely involve faculty, administration, and students, as well as significant funding, organization, and dedication to seeing the programs to scale and success. The payoff for this level of dedication however, will be significant. Implementing Integrated Learning Communities can be expected to increase success rates for student participants by at least 10 percent. Operating at peak effectiveness a 20 percent increase can be expected.

In conclusion, when confronting tradeoffs between the alternatives, Integrated Learning Communities most effectively met the objectives of this policy analysis.

Next Steps…
2012-2013 Year
2013-2014 Year
Coordinate with College of Alameda Learning Community Leaders Debbie Green etc.
Participate in UMOJA Intensive
Choose leadership, begin recruitment, grant/funding seeking, organization
Hold bi-weekly meetings focusing on implementation, continue organization/recruitment efforts.
Finalize. Launch Fall 2013.


Lillian Mano graduated from Mills College Public Policy Program in May of 2012. As a former community college student herself, she aspired to widen the path to success for community college students coming up behind her. While writing her Master’s Policy Report, she was also one half of a two-woman nonprofit tech startup, GradGuru, and created a smartphone application for community college students. After graduation she worked as a policy analyst for Oakland City Councilwoman Libby Schaaf and authored the Oakland Traveling Animal Protection Ordinance, which increased regulations and humane care standards on circuses and other traveling animal performing groups. Currently, Lillian is working at the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Healthcare Programs as a Presidential Management Fellow. She lives in Washington, DC with her husband, four dogs and four cats.


[1] Student Success Task Force: Draft Recommendations, 2011

[2] Student Success Task Force: Draft Recommendations, 2011

[3] Shulock, Nancy & Moore, Colleen. 2005. “Diminished Access to the Baccalaureate for Low-Income and Minority Students in California: The Impact of Budget and Capacity Constraints on the Transfer Function.” Educational Policy 19:148

[4] National Center for Education Statistics, 2001

[5] Walker, K.P. 2005. “History, Rationale, and the Community College Baccalaureate Association.” Pp. 9-23 in The Community College Baccalaureate: Emerging Trends and Policy Issues, by D.L. Floyd, M.L. Skolnik, & K.P. Walker. Sterling, VAL Stylus.

[6] Goldrick-Rab, Sara. 2010. “Challenges and Opportunities for Improving Community College Student Success.” Review of Educational Research 80:437

[7] U.S. Department of Education and the National Center for Education Statistics, 2011

[8] Person, Ann, Rosenbaum, James and Diel-Amen, Regina. 2006. “Student Planning and Information Problems in Different College Structures.” Teachers College Record 108 (3): 374-396

[9] Shulock, Nancy & Moore, Colleen. 2005. “Diminished Access to the Baccalaureate for Low-Income and Minority Students in California: The Impact of Budget and Capacity Constraints on the Transfer Function.” Educational Policy 19:148

[10] Shulock, Nancy & Moore, Colleen. 2005. “Diminished Access to the Baccalaureate for Low-Income and Minority Students in California: The Impact of Budget and Capacity Constraints on the Transfer Function.” Educational Policy 19:148

[11] ARCC Report, 2011

[12] Student Success Taskforce, 2011

[13] Student Success Taskforce, 2011

[14] Student Success Taskforce, 2011

[15] Goldrick-Rab, Sara. 2010. “Challenges and Opportunities for Improving Community College Student Success.” Review of Educational Research 80:437

[16] Student Success Taskforce, 2011; Hern, Katie & Myra, Snell. 2011. Bringing Accelerated English and Math to Your Campus. Regional Workshops at Fullerton College, Fresno City College, Miramar College, Santa Rosa Junior College, and Citrus College.

[17] Peralta Community College Website, 2012

[18] Peralta Educational Services, 2011

[19] Peralta Equity Report, 2011

[20] Bloom, Dan & Sommo, Colleen. 2005. “Building Learning Communities: Early Results From the Opening Doors Demonstration at Kingsborough Community College.” MDRC http://www.mdrc.org/publications/410/print.html;

[21] Jenkins, Davis et. al. 2010. A Model for Accelerating Academic Success of Community College Remedial English Students: Is the Accelerated Learning Program (ALP) Effective and Affordable? Community College Research Center. Columbia University, Teachers College. Working Paper.

[22] Hern, Katie & Myra, Snell. 2011. Bringing Accelerated English and Math to Your Campus. Regional Workshops at Fullerton College, Fresno City College, Miramar College, Santa Rosa Junior College, and Citrus College.

[23] California Acceleration Project Completion Initiative, 2011

[24] Basic Skills Progress Tracker, 2011

[25] Hern, Katie & Myra, Snell. 2011. Bringing Accelerated English and Math to Your Campus. Regional Workshops at Fullerton College, Fresno City College, Miramar College, Santa Rosa Junior College, and Citrus College.

[26] Jenkins, Davis et. al. 2010. A Model for Accelerating Academic Success of Community College Remedial English Students: Is the Accelerated Learning Program (ALP) Effective and Affordable? Community College Research Center. Columbia University, Teachers College. Working Paper.

[27] Bloom, Dan & Sommo, Colleen. 2005. “Building Learning Communities: Early Results From the Opening Doors Demonstration at Kingsborough Community College.” MDRC http://www.mdrc.org/publications/410/print.html

[28] Chan, Edy; Ferrero-Castaneda, Christa; Green, Debbie. 2010. Student Success Learning Communities Program Review Narrative Reoprt. College of Alameda.


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One thought on “A Comparative Policy Analysis of Basic Skills Education in Peralta Community College District

  1. In California, WHEN a new nursing student pursuing a BSN degree already has a Bachelor Degree AND a Master’s Degree, WHY are the LAST 60 units of GPA for the BSN program, taken from the older BA degree earned, and NOT the most current Master’s? This practice doesn’t make sense and needs to change. You should count the Master’s Degree GPA, NOT THE OLDER BA/BS degree, duh.

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