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September 20, 2016 > Local professor recognized nationally

Local professor recognized nationally

Submitted By Guisselle Nunez

The Chabot-Las Positas Community College District is pleased to announce that one of its Chabot College professors, Dr. Katie Hern, has been recognized by the Washington Monthly as ÒOne of the 16 Most Innovative People in Higher Education.Ó Hern co-founded the California Acceleration Project (CAP) with Myra Snell, a math professor at Los Medanos College. The project supports the stateÕs community colleges to change their approach to English and math remediation so that more students complete their goals. To date, approximately 75 percent of the stateÕs community colleges are redesigning remediation with CAP (

ÒWe are extremely proud of Dr. Katie HernÕs achievements in launching the California Acceleration Project (CAP). Our Board of Trustees recognized Dr. Hern and CAP in April after receiving a $333,000 grant from the Irvine Foundation,Ó said Dr. Jannett Jackson, Chabot-Las Positas Community College District Chancellor. ÒWe are excited to see her work gaining greater recognition, while at the same time acknowledging the innovative environment that exists within our District.Ó

Traditionally, community colleges have relied on a model of remediation that directs students considered unprepared for college to take multiple non-credit bearing courses, creating an inadvertent barrier to the end goal of graduation.

CAP was founded in 2010 after Hern, an English professor, noticed that students who took her collegeÕs accelerated remedial course were more likely to complete college English. She shared this data in a conversation with Snell, who pointed out that with each additional remedial course, more students are inevitably lost to attrition. Instead of helping students be more successful in college, these classes were making them less likely to reach their goals.

Initially, it was hard for Hern and Snell to convince community college faculty that this was the case, so they collaborated with the state ChancellorÕs Office and the Research and Planning Group to create an online tool with data from all 113 of the stateÕs community colleges. The tool makes visible the problem of high attrition in remediation. Statewide, among students required to take three or more remedial math courses, just 6 percent go on to complete the math requirements to transfer and earn a bachelorÕs degree.

Hern and Snell help colleges implement three major reforms: offering co-requisite models of remediation that enable under-prepared students to take college-level courses with extra support, condensing remedial sequences into fewer semesters and better aligning them with college-level work, and placing fewer students into remedial classes in the first place. Students are typically assigned to remediation based on their scores in standardized placement tests. Hern and Snell advocate that a studentÕs high school grade point average and coursework are more accurate gauges of college success.

The Research and Planning Group conducted an evaluation of the first 16 colleges participating in the California Acceleration Project. It found that studentsÕ odds of completing college English were 2.3 times greater in accelerated English pathways than in traditional remediation. In redesigned statistics pathways, their odds of completing a transfer-level course were 4.5 times higher. In a follow-up analysis, the researchers found that the achievement gap in African-American completion of transfer-level math was eliminated in CAP pathways across eight colleges.

Hern and Snell have also been recognized for their work by the Association of California Community College Administrators (ACCCA) and the Research and Planning Group for California Community Colleges.

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