Improvements in Student Success
were Achieved in Major Program Areas
Despite Funding Reductions
Despite a three-year decline in state funding, which triggered the cutting of 800 class sections, the college managed to identify sufficient resources to serve our students effectively. A central goal of our Instruction Team during FY11 was to put in place programs, services, and learning activities that helped students achieve their educational and career goals. In different ways across the different disciplines represented at Mt. SAC, we have seen notable improvements in student success, particularly in the following areas.
Acute Student Needs—The college completed the last of a five-year, $2-million Title V grant titled, “Addressing Acute Student Needs at Mt. SAC.” The grant supported interdepartmental collaboration among the Counseling and English departments as well as the Learning Assistance Center, other tutoring centers, and Information Technology to expand the college’s capacity to foster student success. Notable grant accomplishments included:
- Expanded learning communities. Over 500 students were served in reading and writing courses via learning communities and achieved success rates from 10% to 26% higher than students in the general population. They participated in pre-college to collegelevel transferable courses to meet general education requirements.
- Online services. An online orientation program and an online tutoring service were implemented this year. Additionally, the Writing Center and Tutorial Services established a website that enabled students to make online appointments and made possible the piloting of a successful online tutoring strategy as well as services for faculty. A tutoring channel on the Mt. SAC portal centralized information about campus tutoring centers, thereby enabling students to find information quickly and conveniently.
- Probationary student support. Probationary students received enhanced support through the establishment of “success workshops” in collaboration with Tutorial Services and the Writing Center. These in-person and online workshops served 2,200 students. During the final year of the grant, the college implemented a mandatory intervention for all first-time probationary students.
- Improved writing skills. The Writing Center tutored more than 4,000 students, distinguishing it as the busiest voluntary usage writing center in Southern California. Students who took advantage of the tutorial service achieved significantly higher success and retention rates than those who did not.
- Improved reading skills. The Learning Assistance Center heightened campus awareness regarding textbook readability levels. Establishing readability levels helps students assess their own readiness for success in classes that demand advanced reading skills. The center also strengthened tutor training through preparation classes and “tutor coordinators groups” to ensure that tutors were well prepared to work effectively with students.
Overall for the college, data show an increase in retention from 82.3% in the fall of 2007 to 87.4% in fall of 2010. Rates of successful completion of courses with passing grades have increased slightly from 64.4% in fall of 2007 to over 69% for the 2010-11 academic year. In instructional program areas, FY11 yielded productive outcomes. Following is a summary:
- The Nursing Program received funding from the Song Brown Grant, totaling $200,000 over two years. The award recognizes the program’s exemplary efforts to increase the success rates of its diverse population.
- Through the National Science Foundation grant program with CSU Fullerton, Mt. SAC offered 70 academic scholarships (ranging from $2,400 to $2,800) to students over a fouryear period. The grant supports the transfer of non-majors into Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines.
- The transfer rate for our athletes is nearly double the average for the general population of students. Most notably, the Mountie Football and Men’s Soccer teams won state and national championships for the second consecutive year, and the Women’s Track team garnered a state championship—the 50th for Mt. SAC athletes.
- The English as a Second Language program received a Promising Practice CASAS award for its exemplary student portfolio system of student learning outcomes assessment and level progress.
- Mt. SAC was one of only 19 colleges across the country to participate in piloting the Statway math sequence, which allows students who test into Elementary Algebra to meet college-level math requirements in statistics in only two semesters.
- Not only did students in our performing arts groups and athletic teams continue to capture important awards, but computer sciences students placed third in the Regional Programming Competition. The Robotics Team achieved national ranking at the Society of Physics Students state meeting, and psychiatric technician students ranked among the top finalists at the Health Occupations Students of America National Leadership Conference competition.
- Some 210 students completed six or more Honors Program classes and were certified as Honors scholars. Honors students transferred to top universities at a rate of 98%.
Dr. Virginia Burley