The Partnership for Student Success at Santa Barbara City College (SBCC)

Kathy Molloy, Basic Skills Coordinator

In Spring 2005, the President of Santa Barbara City College asked the local academic senate to assume responsibility for planning and implementing a Student Success Initiative. The goal of this Initiative was to address the needs of the large population of under-prepared students entering the College and to increase the academic success of all SBCC students. The senate accepted this responsibility and the following summer formed a task force to begin planning the Initiative. This task force included faculty representatives from all divisions, as well as students, deans, and directors of successful SBCC student support programs.

In the fall, the task force issued a college-wide call for proposals for the Student Success Initiative and subsequently reviewed over 60 proposals submitted by faculty, departments, and administrators before forwarding them to the senate. These proposals offered a wide range of solutions, from departmental and cross-departmental projects to broad institutional initiatives. After reviewing these proposals, the senate made its recommendation for the Initiative: provide comprehensive tutoring in a variety of formats by expanding existing successful programs and making them even more effective and by creating new programs to address unmet student needs. The College approved funding for the Initiative in Fall 2006, and these Initiative programs became known collectively as the Partnership for Student Success (PSS). The Partnership consists of the following programs: the Writing Center, the Math Lab, the Academic Achievement Zone, and the Gateway to Success Program.

The Writing Center provides tutors who are trained to work with students at every stage of the writing process and to assist these students in developing their writing skills. The Math Lab provides tutors who are trained to work with beginning through advanced math students to develop their math skills. The Academic Achievement Zone works closely with the Writing Center and the Math Lab and provides tutoring for all student athletes who assess at below college level in reading, writing, or math or who have GPAs at 2.3 or below. The Gateway Program provides in-class and outside-of-class tutoring for students in designated courses, from English as a Second Language (ESL) and basic skills through first-year content and career technical education (CTE) courses. Gateway faculty recruit students who have been successful in specific courses and train them to become Gateway tutors in those classes. Tutors in all Partnership programs must complete a required tutor training program before they begin working with students, and each program uses faculty-developed directed learning activities that enable students to further develop necessary skills by working independently and with tutors in guided activities.

The Partnership Steering Committee meets regularly to assess the progress of each program, address challenges, solicit proposals and recommend them to the senate, and conduct regular evaluations of the Partnership programs. This senate subcommittee includes former task force members, leaders of each Partnership program, and representatives from counseling, CTE, and ESL.

The Partnership for Student Success is in its fourth year at SBCC. As the evaluation data for the academic years 2006-09 indicate, the Partnership continues to demonstrate strong success rates, especially among basic skills students.

It is clear that growing numbers of SBCC students are taking advantage of Partnership programs. Not only are our students benefiting from the support they receive, but the students who provide that support are benefiting as well. For example, in a study done by the College, tutors had much higher success rates in their own classes once they began working in the Gateway Program.

Institutional research data show that students are taking advantage of the Partnership programs in growing numbers. As an example, over 5,000 tutoring sessions took place in the Gateway Center in Spring 2009, in addition to the Gateway tutoring that took place across the campus. The Writing Center tutoring sessions have doubled in the first two years of the Partnership, and the Math Lab has expanded its hours and added a well attended Saturday Lab to accommodate the growing number of students seeking math tutoring. The Academic Achievement Zone has continued to expand its hours and services to meet the special needs of student athletes, and the number of students participating in the Zone has increased as well. Each of these programs reports higher course completion rates for participating students when compared with non-participating students in the same courses, and the success rates continue to grow as the students take increasing advantage of the support services offered by these Partnership programs.

The senate’s effort to change the culture of the campus has truly paid off. As our Accreditation Team recently observed, student success is at the forefront of everything we do, and the Partnership is largely responsible for creating and sustaining this emphasis on student success.

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