Program EvaluationBest Practice
Miami Dade College’s Institutional Research department tracks the college’s English for Academic Purposes (EAP) program, monitoring key performance indicators, such as retention rates for students at each curriculum level, placement results after completion of the EAP program, and success in subsequent courses.
Student RecruitmentBest Practice
College Open House for ESL Students
For students who are studying ESL at its extension sites, Bluegrass Community & Technical College in Kentucky holds an annual open house that introduces them to the main campus and showcases the college’s degree and certificate programs. Bluegrass partners with its ESL instructors and community-based organizations like Kentucky Refugees Ministries and the Migrant Network Coalition to spread the word about the event. The open house, held in the evening to accommodate working students, includes an introduction and welcome by college staff. Tours of the college are led by current community college students who speak the principal native languages of the ESL students, including French, Spanish, Arabic, Russian, Nepali and Swahili. Bluegrass has found that these tours are most successful when ESL instructors accompany their students, offering a supportive, familiar presence.Best Practice
Information Workshops for ESL Students
Westchester Community College in New York has a Welcome Center which offers information sessions for ESL students that provide an overview of the U.S. higher education system and the college’s own resources, including career services, financial aid and scholarships. Students who have higher education credentials from their home countries gain information on getting their foreign credits evaluated and recognized. Run by a former ESL instructor, these workshops give ESL students a chance to ask the kinds of questions that aren’t necessarily on the minds of American high school students applying to college, and to do so in an environment where they don’t need to be embarrassed about making mistakes when they speak English.Best Practice
Recruiting Students from ESL Classes
Miami Dade College (MDC) attracts foreign-educated students to its Project A.C.E. (Accelerated Content-Based English) program, a fast-track “bridge to college” program by recruiting from their ESL classes. MDC sends congratulatory emails to its high-achieving foreign-educated ESL students, inviting them to apply to join their accelerated college-bridge program. The emails describe the college courses they are eligible to take alongside their ESL classes, and explain how Project A.C.E. will save them time. Videos on the Project A.C.E. website in English, Spanish and French are specifically aimed at attracting foreign-educated students looking to prepare for a second B.A., a master’s degree, or professional licensure in the U.S.
Work-Based Training ProgramsBest Practice
Placing Immigrant Students in Appropriate Training Programs
At Alamo Colleges in Texas, the Workbased English Solutions program welcomes immigrants living in the San Antonio area into training programs that provide access to high-demand, career-building jobs. Alamo uses bilingual personal interviews to discuss the students’ educational and career aspirations and to gauge the students’ work-related skills. After the personal interview, students choose a desired course of study and take an in-depth assessment in English of their writing, listening, reading and mathematics skills. Spanish language tests are administered to Spanish-speaking students to better understand students’ level of educational preparation. A four-person committee reviews the interviews and test results, makes placement decisions and provides direction to an educational case manager who meets with students to discuss next steps.
Prior Learning AssessmentBest Practice
Credit for Prior Experience
Increasingly, colleges are recognizing that knowledge gained outside of the classroom is valuable and deserves college credit. In a section of their website entitled “Applying to College As An Immigrant Student,” colleges in Ontario, Canada provide links for a “Prior Learning and Assessment Recognition Process.” This process allows students to get academic credit for skills and knowledge they have acquired through work, training, independent study, volunteering, travel, hobbies or family experiences.Best Practice
Enlisting Faculty in Assessing Non-Traditional Students
At Montgomery County Community College (MCCC) in Pennsylvania, individual prior learning assessments are an option for all students. Faculty members knowledgeable in specific subject areas evaluate non-traditional learning experiences to see how they compare to the objectives of existing academic credit courses and help decide whether they can be considered for college credit. As the college’s website explains, if a student has experience as a supervisor in an industrial manufacturing firm, they will be asked to demonstrate what they have learned about production problem-solving, cost-effectiveness, supervision and labor problems, and how that learning can be related to the objectives of a course at MCCC.Best Practice
Creating an Electronic Portfolio
At Alamo Colleges, students can earn academic credit for knowledge and skills gained in job training, corporate training, military service, independent study and volunteer services. Alamo helps students create an electronic portfolio to showcase their knowledge and prior learning experience. Alamo faculty assess the portfolio and recommend the college credit to be awarded – up to 6 credit hours toward certain certificate programs and 12 credit hours toward certain A.A.S degrees.
Student PlacementBest Practice
Preparing Students for Placement
At Westchester Community College, the international and immigrant student advisor partners with the college’s Academic Support Center to help ensure that immigrant students don’t rush into taking the college’s Accuplacer test. She refers prospective students to the Academic Support Center to make sure that they get plenty of practice and time to prepare before they take the test.
Student AdvisingBest Practice
Academic amd Career Advisors
At Miami Dade College’s New Student Center, prospective students meet in-person with a pre-college advisor who is trained to be able to advise students on the full range of credit and non-credit options available at the college, as well as the pros and cons of choosing a particular credit or non-credit pathway. In fact, MDC has gone the distance and merged the role of academic and career advisor. These “Academic and Career Advisors” receive extensive training on both academic and career development pathways in recognition of the fact that an academic path needs to lead to a career. And, in an effort to make sure that working students are able to take advantage of these enhanced advising services, these advisors are available until 7 p.m. and some weekends.Best Practice
Campus Outreach to ESL Students
At Miami Dade College, Student Services staff visit the college’s non-credit ESL classrooms at the beginning of the semester and talk about the opportunities that are available at the college level. Says Malou Harrison, President of MDC-North Campus, “We advise students about short-term programs. And we talk about certificate programs that bridge into an associate degree and subsequently a baccalaureate degree, so students understand how they can earn incremental credentials.”Best Practice
Enlisting College and Career Coaches
At Montgomery College in Maryland, college and career coaches go to the college’s extension sites and make presentations to ESL students about next steps. These coaches provide advice to ESL students about the difference between credit and non-credit programs, and can lead classroom activities aimed at helping ESL students transition into college and careers.
Career PathwaysBest Practice
Pathways in Healthcare
At Westchester Community College, a health care career advisor has at her fingertips information about the full array of credit and non-credit offerings in the health care field. Many of these short-term, non-credit health care options at WCC – Certified Nurse Assistant (CNA), Patient Care Technician (PCT), Phlebotomy – can lead to jobs where students can make connections that will be useful to them later on. The fact that foreign-educated students are bilingual is often a real plus and can help them eventually get better jobs, since bilingual candidates are in demand in many health care settings.Best Practice
Providing Career Pathways Information
The California Career Café of California Community Colleges provides an attractive, easy-to-use virtual career center for community college students – and you don’t need to live in California to use it! The website offers links to information on 15 different career pathways. For each career pathway, the website provides online tools that allow students to understand what career opportunities are available along that pathway, what educational degrees or certificates are needed for those opportunities, what the job outlook is for any particular job along that pathway, and how to find scholarships, internships and mentors in that field.Best Practice
Career Pathways Roadmaps
The Oregon Career Pathways Initiative began with 5 colleges and now includes all 17 community colleges in Oregon. Each has developed Career Pathways roadmaps that are visual tools to help students and community college advisors and counselors understand and navigate various education and career options. The roadmaps visualize career pathways from entry level credentials to A.S. and B.S. degrees and include various “entry” and “exit” points that note job opportunities, anticipated wages and other labor market information, as well as career and academic advising services and financial aid options. For instance, Mt. Hood Community College has designed Career Pathway roadmaps in a variety of occupations and fields, including medical customer service, accounting, child care center teacher, and behavioral healthcare specialist. A specially designed Vocational ESL program for non-native English speakers, immigrants, and refugees charts a path from Certified Nursing Assistant to Registered Nurse positions.Best Practice
Pipeline to Credit Courses
Portland Community College in Oregon has created short, 2 to 3-term credit career pathways in accounting, computer application systems, retail sales, customer service, and other fields, which ESL students can access without having to meet the college’s reading and writing prerequisites because they take a contextualized academic skill building and support course concurrently.Best Practice
Central Piedmont Community College in North Carolina actively recruits from its ESL classes into its Pathways to Careers program that offers credit-bearing stackable credentials. Students are co-enrolled in credit-bearing courses and in linked, contextualized adult literacy classes. An optional communication course is offered for all ESL students in this program.
Engaging Community OrganizationsBest Practice
Partnering with Community-Based Organizations
Wilbur Wright College in Chicago has collaborated with Instituto del Progreso Latino and other community partners to develop the award-winning Carreras en Salud (Careers in Health) career pathway where individuals can access the pathway at various entry points depending on their English language proficiency and prerequisites that they fulfill along the way. The Carreras en Salud model is successfully addressing the region’s need for more bilingual healthcare professionals.
ESL Students/ClassesBest Practice
Browsing the College Catalogue
At LaGuardia Community College, ESL instructors bring hard copies of the college’s Adult & Continuing Education catalog into class and use it as a basis for a scavenger hunt to help their students understand the vast array of programs they could access to forge a career pathway for themselves. Students can use the catalog to find answers to questions like, “I want to become a nurse. What courses can I take to help me reach my goal?” Or “I want to start my own business. How much does it cost to take the “Start Your Own Business’ course?”
Perhaps the best known of the contextualized ESL models is the Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training (I-BEST), pioneered by the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges. Designed for intermediate-level English language learners, I-BEST pairs ESL instructors with content area instructors in the same classroom to co-teach college-level vocational courses and workforce training. I-BEST students start earning college credits immediately.Best Practice
Fast-Tracking Capable ESL Students
The Project A.C.E. (Accelerated Content-based English) program at Miami Dade College, offers a fast-track ESL curriculum to students with strong academic backgrounds, including those with degrees from other countries. Students take content-based ESL courses in which they learn English at the same time that they co-enroll in academic courses in psychology, microcomputers or Internet research.Best Practice
Co-Enrollment in Academic Courses
At Passaic County Community College in New Jersey, students in credit-bearing ESL classes can co-enroll in paired sociology, psychology, computer information systems and early childhood education courses.
Financial Aid InformationBest Practice
Eligibility for Financial Aid
SUNY Orange County Community College website includes a section that explains to prospective students that if they qualify as unemployed or displaced workers, they may be eligible to receive money to cover the cost of select courses and certificate programs.Best Practice
Worker Retraining Benefits
The “Check Out A College” web page maintained by the Community & Technical Colleges of Washington State carefully spells out the eligibility criteria for Worker Retraining benefits, and makes it easy for prospective students to contact a worker retraining specialist at each of its campuses.