$1.5M grant will boost equity at Mesa College

May 18, 2016 | San Diego Mesa College

A $1.5 million state grant awarded this week will help San Diego Mesa College to scale up its basic skills practices and programs focused on student equity and success. The San Diego Community College District Board of Trustees are expected to accept the grant, which was approved by the Board of Governors on May 16.  

 “Mesa College stands at the threshold of deep, transformative change for our disproportionately impacted students who find themselves in basic skills English and math,” said President Pamela T. Luster. “This funding enables us to scale up the equity efforts we’ve worked so hard at over the last few years, and to take it the next level.”

Like other campuses across the state, Mesa College currently has a high level of students placing into basic skills course work, and many of these students are students of color, veterans, economically disadvantaged, and or first generation college students. The California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office (CCCCO) reports that 74 percent of students enrolling at community colleges in California are in need of remedial instruction in math or English or both. 

The CCCCO’s Basic Skills and Student Outcomes Transformation Program grant enables Mesa and other colleges to advance innovative programs that have the potential to better serve these students. Mesa’s three-year grant is among $60 million the office is distributing statewide to 43 community colleges.

The grant will enable Mesa College to put into place practices that build on research and programs developed over the last few years with funding from Basic Skills, HSI/Title V and other state and federal grants, as well as support findings from the college’s work with the Center for Urban Education (CUE), San Diego State University’s Minority Male Community College Collaborative (M2C3), and the California Community College Success Network (3CSN).

“Part of the grant will provide funding to support training of key campus stakeholders and subsequently, support a higher proportion of these traditionally underserved students,” noted Professor Mark Manasse, who helped to write and will co-coordinate the project. “This will have far-reaching results, helping students to complete their college-level coursework in math and English more quickly.”

Specific principles and practices include an evaluation of potential assessment and placement reform; increased placement of students directly into gateway English and math courses; intrusive counseling support; professionalized tutorial support; and the development of more accelerated pathways for pre-college-level English/mathematics courses. 

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