Practices that Promote Equity in Basic Skills in California Community Colleges



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Conclusion


The current demographic breakdown of the California community colleges mirrors statewide population projections in essence, representing a snapshot of the California’s future. In other words, California’s projected demographics for 2050 have been met 40 years early by the current diversity of CCC credit and noncredit basic skills students. These millions of students represent California’s economic future. This is the time to focus on practices that will enable equitable outcomes for these Californians. Addressing California's future needs will require a serious look at equitable support and outcomes, not merely equitable access.

To tackle the issue of equitable outcomes for our diverse populations, we will need to examine barriers to success which may include institutional, instructional, service, or even unconsciously-generated barriers as a result of latent cultural bias. The challenge before us is real and not easily overcome. But we can increase success and equitable outcomes; this paper has provided evidence of many effective practices that can powerfully impact equitable outcomes at the community, institutional, and program level. The power of individual efforts cannot be overlooked.

Even on the large scale, there are signs of progress. Data from the California Post-secondary Educational Commission (CPEC) about the California community colleges’ degrees awarded in 1998 compared to 2007 indicate that our diverse students are earning degrees at a greater rate than ever before. While demographic shifts can skew results, the increase in the Latino/a segment of the population alone cannot account for the 96% increase in AA degrees awarded to Latina/os from 1998 -2007 as compared to only a 13% increase among white students.



Table 6 Degrees awarded by Ethnicity in California Colleges Comparing 1998 to 20079

Year




Asian/

Pac Is


Black

Filipino

Latino

Nat

Amer


Other

White

Non-Res

Alien


No

Response


Totals

1998

California Community Colleges

10,252

6,360

3,337

17,875

1,169

1,458

46,241

2,550

2,607

91,849


































2007

California Community Colleges

14,217

8,842

5,433

34,991

1,329

2,752

52,278

3,482

5,033

128,357

Percent Change or Increase in Degree Awards

39%

39%

63%

96%

14%

89%

13%

37%

93%

40%

However, even with the hopeful data above showing increasing rates of degrees awarded to diverse students, a further examination comparing the percentage of general student population and the percent of degrees awarded by ethnicity reveals that gaps still exist. For instance, Asian/Pacific Island students and Latina/os do not receive the same percentage of degrees that they represent in the overall student population, which is an achievement gap. This is due to many variables, but examining barriers and promoting success through equity-mindedness, cultural competency, and universally designed practices provide techniques that have been shown to benefit all students. See Table 7 below where Latina/os represent 29-30% of the general CCC population in 2007 and yet only receive 27% of the degrees and Asian/Pacific Islanders represent 13% of the population but are awarded only 11% of the degrees. These gaps are not insurmountable. Addressing gaps through effective practices that incorporate Equity-mindedness, Cultural Competence, and Universal Design for Learning will help to ensure that all students achieve the academic and workplace skills necessary for California’s future.


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