CCC BSI 2009: “Together, We Can”

On January 12, 2009, the Board of Governors voted to award the 2009 ESL/Basic Skills Professional Development Grant to The Los Angeles Community College District.  Funded by the Chancellor’s Office of the California Community Colleges, the grant provides $1.6 million per year for up to five years to support the next phase of the Basic Skills Initiative (BSI).  Now in its fourth year, the BSI represents an unprecedented collaboration among the Academic Senate, Chief Instructional Officers, Chief Student Services Officers, and the Chancellor’s Office to improve educational success rates for the many students who come to California’s community colleges unprepared for college level work. 

CCC BSI 2009 will integrate the highly successful series of regional workshops led by the state’s Academic Senate for the past three years with new activities, including the development of a permanent statewide Professional Learning Network, creation of a center for the scholarship of teaching and learning in community colleges, and establishment of a BSI Summer Institute. In partnership with the RP Group, BSI 2009 will develop benchmarks for transition points between courses in basic skills sequences and create new tools for a series of data coaching workshops designed to increase every college’s capacity to enhance student success outcomes. In addition, a robust interactive virtual network to enhance professional learning and collaboration will also be developed in partnership with the California Educational Technology Collaborative and the ASCCC.

Through workshops continuing under the leadership of the ASCCC (for more info, visit, more colleges than ever will learn about, share, and develop strategies for implenting the effective practices outlined in the BSI Phase I “Poppy Copy.”  Combined with the enhanced virtual network, the data coaching workshops, and an entire strand of BSI sessions during the fall Strengthening Student Success Conference, every college in the state will have the opportunity to increase their participation in the BSI. 

The creation of a permanent statewide Professional Learning Network is perhaps the most innovative aspect of BSI 2009.   For the past few decades community colleges have often worked in isolation to support the needs of underprepared students. Even within campuses, faculty and staff often struggle to coordinate their efforts and to create the kind of institutional changes that the BSI was designed to promote. CCC BSI 2009 is designed to bridge these gaps by establishing a highly-coordinated community of professional learners who can address the many shared questions and problems associated with basic skills needs across the segments. Foundational to this Professional Learning Network are evidence-based knowledge building, inquiry, capacity building, direct training, and resource development.

To build this pilot Network, mentors will be assigned in four specific locations (the Bay Area, Los Angeles, Sacramento/Central Valley, and San Diego). These mentors will facilitate efforts among faculty, staff, and administrators in the local regions, while providing connections with the greater statewide network. Through both face-to-face meetings and virtual links, participating colleges will become part of a community of professional inquiry that will provide several transformational opportunities, including:

  • Funds for professional learning above and beyond BSI funds
  • Sustained, ongoing support from a designated regional mentor
  • Data coaches to help make evidence-based decisions
  • Experts who will tailor support to college needs
  • Participation in a summer leadership institute designed to support successful implementation of their BSI action plans
  • Partnerships with state-wide initiatives, such as the Faculty Inquiry Network, Center for Student Success, and Career Ladders
  • Regional field trips to community colleges with model programs and practices

Each year, more regional college clusters will be added to the effort, eventually resulting in a permanent Professional Learning Network focused on the use of data and inquiry for institutional improvement.

Deborah L. Harrington will serve as Project Director for BSI 2009, with Gary Colombo as Project Administrator.  The first steering committee meeting takes place on March 10th, with members reflecting the expertise of many groups including the ASCCC, CEOs, CIOs, CSSOs, RP Group, Career Ladders, Faculty Inquiry Network, Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, CETC, CCCCO, and more.

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