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MiraCosta College Receives $1.5 million Basic Skills Grant

Oceanside CA— MiraCosta College has secured a three-year state grant of nearly $1.5 million to vastly reduce the number of students needing remedial instruction by expanding several cutting-edge programs that have a record of success.

The money comes through $60-million in one-time funds included in the 2015-16 state budget for California Community Colleges to adopt or expand evidence-based practices that boost student success. Of the 85 colleges that submitted applications, 43 were awarded funds.

MiraCosta College has implemented a number of initiatives over the years – including the First Year Experience, the Bridge to Success in Math and the HealthStart English programs – to help students achieve greater success, and the new grant will enable the college to build upon and expand those initiatives.

The grant will fund a MiraCosta College initiative dubbed Through the Gates: Transforming the Path to Success. Among the highlights:

  • MiraCosta College will grow its successful Bridge to Success in Math effort, a weeklong program designed to refresh a student’s math skills so they have a better likelihood of being assessed into a transfer-level math class.
  • MiraCosta College will increase the number of math and English instructors trained to provide support and remedial instruction.
  • MiraCosta College will launch the design of an early-alert system for immediate intervention when students may begin to struggle in their courses.

Through the Gates: Transforming the Path to Success is the latest in a number of wide-ranging efforts MiraCosta College has adopted to reduce the number of students placed in basic skills, or pre-transfer level, classes. Since 2011, roughly 43 percent of students have been placed into pre-transfer level English course work and 72 percent into pre-transfer level math course work. Studies have shown, however, that the more pre-transfer level courses students are forced to take, the less likely they are to attempt and pass a college-level course.

MiraCosta College has responded by being at the forefront in adopting a number of measures to assess the college readiness of incoming students to avoid wrongly categorizing their skills. Shifts toward using multiple measures, such as a student’s cumulative high school GPA and how they fared in their high school English and math courses, mean more and more students who in the past would be placed in a pre-transfer level class are now being placed in college-level courses instead. In 2014-15, for example, just 51 percent of high school students were placed directly into transfer-level English classes; in 2015-16, the number jumped to 69 percent.

Because those students can sometimes need more academic support, the new grant will enable MiraCosta College to increase the number of college-level course sections integrating supplemental instruction.

“The net effect of our efforts is to help move more students successfully through their educational experience at MiraCosta College toward their transfer, career, or educational goals,” said Mike Fino, dean of mathematics and sciences. “These efforts include increasing the placement of students into gateway English and mathematics courses, providing proactive student support services, and contextualizing instruction to maximize student success.”