Basic Skills Committee Focuses on Instruction


A number of exciting innovations have been developing in California's community colleges, especially with the help of Partnership for Excellence funds and supportive administrators. Over the past few years the Basic Skills Committee has featured many of these programs and approaches at Academic Senate plenary sessions. Included in these breakout sessions has been a variety of learning communities, in-class tutoring, integrated learning centers, and student success advisors.

The Fall 2001 Plenary Session will once again occasion a breakout that will help improve community college basic skills instruction. This one will highlight what we have learned in the past few years from data collection, both at the state level and at local colleges. We can benefit from finding what approaches are supported by data, expanding successful use of data, and developing better ways to share those data. Perhaps we can propose by Mark Snowhite, Basic Skills Committee Chair models for gathering data that can be used for both formative and summative assessment.

To generate important data, the Basic Skills Committee has distributed a new survey on practices in basic skills instruction at local campuses statewide, a refined follow-up to its 1998 survey. This survey has already reached your campus. If you have not received a copy, please contact the Senate Office or visit our website. The deadline to return the survey is November 9, 2001. Your timely response will assist the Basic Skills Committee in this very important work.

In addition, the Basic Skills Committee has begun developing a paper on the best instructional practices for helping under-prepared students succeed in their course work. Those who teach reading, writing, and mathematics should find this paper useful. Anyone interested in working on the content of this paper is certainly welcome. Please contact Mark Snowhite at msnowhit [at]