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Community college grades

July 24, 2009

Re "How good an education?" Editorial, July 21, and "Two area colleges placed on probation," July 10

Although certain procedures for program review may be lacking, it would be wrong to leave the impression that there is not constant improvement in teaching and learning in the community colleges. Instructors and administrators are constantly working to improve courses and update materials.

The problem is with initiating institution-wide procedures that would take faculty time away from actual course preparation and make faculty accountable when adult students fail tests.

Bob Doud

Glendale

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The Times says accreditors placed Los Angeles City College and L.A. Trade-Technical College on probation for failing to conduct program review and for not assessing program effectiveness.

In reality, both colleges have formal program review and assessment processes. LACC has used a thorough program review process for decades to strengthen and reshape instructional programs. Trade-Tech has a new Web-based program review tied to student learning outcomes.

Both colleges also regularly report to the Board of Trustees on all major measures of student success, including transfer, graduation and retention rates.

Times readers should know that the Los Angeles Community College District is committed to public accountability and proud to have dozens of nationally ranked educational programs. We take accreditor recommendations very seriously, and we are confident that our colleges will respond successfully to all recommendations next spring.

Gary Colombo

Los Angeles

The writer is vice chancellor for institutional effectiveness for the Los Angeles Community College District.

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I think you are under the mistaken impression that the accrediting commission is trying to improve post-secondary education with its increasingly hostile approach to program review.

Instead, the commission's demand that professors generate piles of useless paperwork will have the effect of driving already frustrated teachers away from higher education.

If The Times' editorial board thinks that California has so much extra money that all this counterproductive excess should be encouraged, then they haven't been reading their own newspaper.

Steven Morris

Torrance

The writer is a physics professor at Los Angeles Harbor College.

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I have been working at community colleges for 10 years, teaching English composition, a required field for entrance into four-year institutions and a requirement for an associate degree.

I have spent much of my time, however, in remedial classes, which roughly 40% of entering freshman must take before qualifying for first-year English classes.

A large number of remedial students require two semesters in one class to begin to attain the writing and reading skills normally attained in the 10th grade. Indeed, many students enter my class unable to comprehend your editorial. And many others require work in English as a second language before taking composition.

Given this situation, is it realistic to believe that a community college -- which by law can have no entrance qualifications -- can transfer all its students within a few years to a four-year college?

Sometimes I wonder if accrediting commissions have ever worked with the students community colleges actually teach.

Perry Anderson

Buena Park

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