General Info > News Releases > Archived Releases 2008-09 > 2008-09-16: MC to better serve Basic Skills Students

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – September 16, 2008

MENDOCINO COLLEGE, 1000 Hensley Creek Road, Ukiah, CA 95482

Contact: Chris Snyder, Media Assistant
T: 707-468-3098 or 707-489-5699, Fax: 707-467-1023

File: – NR-Foundation Skills Teaching and Learning Community
Photo: - NR-MC Basic Skills Training -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 Mendocino College to better serve Basic Skills Students

Ukiah, CA – Mendocino College has developed a Foundation Skills Teaching and Learning Community to better serve students with basic skills and second language courses.

Recognizing a change in demographics and a trend that a majority of students in the California Community Colleges (CCC) and other community colleges across the nation tend to test into pre-transfer level English and math courses, Mendocino College decided to focus on some key areas.

According to Mendocino College Dean of Instruction Virginia Guleff, 67 percent of students state-wide test into pre-transfer level classes and the state recognizes this reality.

“Our community college mission is to serve the community. We understand that there is a growing need among students who are developing their basic skills and that there is a growing linguistic diversity in the community. We are committed to meeting those needs,” Guleff said.

Mendocino College went through a process to determine that it needed to concentrate more on staff development, hire a full-time English as a second language (ESL) instructor and strengthen its tutorial services as ways to better serve students’ needs.

At the State level, through the collaboration of the Academic Senate and community college leadership, a Basic Skills Initiative was created to bring about the ability to address basic skills and ESL needs.

The Mendocino College Board of Trustees has passed a resolution in support of this Basic Skills Initiative.

The Center for Student Success and the Research and Planning Group for the California Community Colleges conducted a thorough review of literature and effective practices, resulting in a report called Basic Skills as a Foundation for Student Success in the California Community Colleges.

According to their report, basic skills are those foundation skills in reading, writing, mathematics, learning skills, study skills, and ESL which are necessary for students to succeed in college-level work.

The Center for Student Success looked into four areas for the best practices, which included organizational and administrative practices, program components, staff development and instructional practices.

The next step in the process was for every college in the state to conduct a self-assessment of existing practices in basic skills and ESL. Colleges are then to implement what they learned from their self-assessment and additional professional development to assist with this process. After the self study, each school informs the state how it is going to spend the money on basic skills.

Mendocino College refers to their plan as the Foundation Skills Teaching and Learning Community and it was established with the help of Mendocino College administration, counseling, full-time and part-time faculty, program directors, institutional researcher, math and English instructors, technical education and HEP (High School Equivalency Program) members.

To facilitate communication among area educators, Mendocino College is planning a mini conference in February for college and high school instructors and counselors to discuss student transfer and career and technical education.

There are also Teacher Institutes scheduled this October and upcoming April. There is also a reading group scheduled to meet once a month starting in September and running through November and then again from February through April.

Establishing math labs at campuses in Willits, Ukiah and Lakeport campuses and strengthening collaborations with the Learning Center at the Ukiah campus, including academic excellence workshops for developmental English students, is how Mendocino College is looking to strengthen its academic programs and tutorial services.

The workshops are designed to increase success for students as they move through the English sequence of classes. The workshops are organized and collaborated by the Mendocino College English and Learning Center Departments.

“We want to develop English skills for students so they are able to move successfully from basic classes to degree and transfer level classes,” Faculty Coordinator for Foundational Skills and English Professor Debra Polak said.

The need to hire a full-time ESL instructor was essential due to changes in student demographics. Previously, there were only part-time ESL instructors.

Sarah Walsh was hired this past August as a full-time ESL instructor at Mendocino College.

“We are providing our students with the language skills they need to be successful in their future college classes. My goal is not only to get the students here, but also to keep them here and move them on into other college programs. We want to provide access and facilitate student success,” Walsh said.

In order to develop the ESL program, Walsh will work with existing college programs already serving the Spanish speaking population and local community organizations. The ESL department will also collaborate with other college departments to help students transition into other academic programs to continue their studies.

Those involved in the development of the Foundations Skills Teaching and Learning Community will meet several times a month to review the plans and determine if there are any new needs that have emerged.

For further information concerning the Foundation Skills Teaching and Learning Community, contact Debra Polak at (707) 468-3137 or

Created: September 16, 2008 @ 05:03 PM
Last Modified: May 08, 2009 @ 08:26 AM


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