Improving Student Success Through Program Design, Placement, and Pedagogy.
Dr. Lyn Neylon-Craft
“Lyn”, Guillermo asked, “how many students do you think will make the jump? You know, skip a level?”
“Hmmm… I don’t know”, I replied, “Maybe 20-25%? I’m not sure.”
Two semesters ago, my office mate Guillermo Colls, ESL Chair and creator of the accelerated ESL program called Boost! asked me to make this prediction on the first day we were piloting his new program. I really wasn’t sure what to tell him. My name is Dr. Lyn Neylon-Craft, and I am a veteran ESL and English instructor at Cuyamaca of 20+ years. I knew Guillermo wanted an informed opinion, but I just didn’t have one. Well, not yet. You see, I’ve been teaching ESL students a long time. I knew the statistics, and they weren’t great. If a student started at 5 levels below Freshman Composition, s/he only had about a 14% chance of making it through the ESL program and completing Freshman Composition. Thus, our lower level students had a very small chance of ever getting a degree or transferring to achieve their goals. Change had to happen.
Because this was a pilot semester, I was teaching our old curriculum side by side with the new. This really was the perfect scenario to give Guillermo the answer not only to his stated question but also to his unasked question, “Will the new curriculum help our students be more successful?”
Solano Community College
In 2014-15, my colleague Jane Berger and I made substantial revisions to our ESL course sequence at Solano Community College. The three main drivers behind the changes we made to our program were:
A desire to ensure that all students would practice a full complement of reading and writing skills at each level of our program. (The prior program design allowed students to advance from one level to the next by passing the reading or grammar class, not both; in addition, we had no writing class until the top level of our program.
A desire to reduce the many “exit points” inherent in our discrete skills program (We previously had 3 courses in each level. Students didn’t have to take them all but if they did, that meant 9 exit points per level: enroll; complete; pass. If they didn’t, they weren’t practicing all skills– see the top bullet).
A belief that integrating reading, writing, and grammar skills would producing a more cohesive learning experience and better prepare students for the demands of English classes they would take upon completing the ESL program.
Accelerated Curriculum Design in ESL
Are you working on becoming AB705 compliant? Check out how different schools across California have created or are working on accelerated course sequences in their ESL programs.
Cuyamaca College is a community college in San Diego County. Their ESL program serves over 600-700 students from 5 countries. In 2014, Guillermo Colls created an accelerated pathway to pilot. The new program was so successful, that it has become the only pathway offered.
PROGRAMS IN DEVELOPMENT
Woodland Community College
Woodland Community College is a small school near Sacramento, CA. Our ESL population is less than 200. This was certainly a consideration when we designed our accelerated sequence.