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ESL and ELL Success Stories

Agencies and programs across the country are using CASAS to establish comprehensive performance accountability systems, address core indicators of performance, integrate literacy and occupational skill instruction, and evaluate the effectiveness of ESL/ELL, EL Civics, and Citizenship programs.

ESL Retention Task Force

Promising Practice: Santa Barbara CCD’s ESL Retention Task Force was started in 2005-2006 to review and discuss research related to ESL student retention. The agency started the task force in response to low ESL student retention rates, loss of WIA II funding (due to difficulty obtaining paired scores given low retention rates), and a lack of students moving up through the ESL instructional levels.

Agency awarded: Santa Barbara Community College District, 2009

Summary Description of Project:

In the beginning, the Task Force was composed of 11 members, including ESL teachers (credit and non-credit), student services staff, and the ESL program director. During the 2005-06 program year, the Task Force met 8 times over 4 months. The Task Force discussed various strategies for ESL Retention, and voted to implement a number of key proposals for the 2006-07 program year. These trial proposals included managed registration, managed enrollment, nine-week terms, adoption of core text, and a Student Success class. Students’ needs were assessed through surveys that asked questions about their ideal learning environment, their scheduling issues, and their ESL course goals. These surveys were filled out before implementation of the above practices, and again two and a half school terms later.

Evaluation Process/Results:

Since these proposals were first implemented, Santa Barbara CCD has expanded the course terms to ten weeks, and has made the Student Success Class a permanent fixture. The agency has also hired two CASAS Testing Coordinators, who have helped to make assessment procedures more streamlined and efficient. These changes to the student assessment system have allowed instructors to use scores to focus and guide instruction. The success of the ESL Task Force is evident through the agency’s improved student persistence and performance. In the winter of 2007, the agency had a 49% student retention rate (measured by students staying in the program from the beginning of the term until the end of the course term). In the winter of 2008, the agency had a 70% retention rate. Santa Barbara CCD also saw an increase in CASAS paired scores (from 50% in 2006-07 to 66% in 2007-08), and has been above the California state performance averages for all ESL levels for the past two program years.

The agency believes that the ESL Retention Task Force has brought about positive change for students, instructors and staff. The agency highlights the importance of teacher “buy-in” for the success of these new practices, and the success of their peer coaches, instructors who help to mentor other instructors with curriculum and class management. The agency has also seen increased professionalism among students, who are now accountable for their attendance and participation. Overall, the changes brought about by the ESL Retention Task Force have led to a more efficient and effective agency, which has helped increase student success and goal attainment.

For additional information contact:

Silvia Morgan
Email: morgan@sbcc.edu

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