Notes from Contra Costa AB 86 Meeting (West County ESL Breakout Session)

AB 86 Notes: West Contra Costa ESL Breakout Group



Contra Costa College (CCC): Jason Berner, Nooshi Borhan

Literacy for Every Adult Project (LEAP): Hilaria Wright

West Contra Costa Adult Education (WCCAE): Inocencia Dacumos, Paul Drabkin, Bob Mandel, Pat Miles, Kristen Pursley, Ken Ryan

Topics of Discussion:

Promising Practices

Curriculum Mapping

Emerging Strategies


Promising Practices:

Early Childhood Education Bridge Class

Part of Catholic Charities Project Access

Students take 12 units of Early Childhood Education with 9 units linked to ESL classes. The ESL classes are 200/201/202.

The adult school bridge class is designed to prepare adult school students for college level work.

Strengths of this Program:

High success rate

Concerns about the Program:

Students may be getting “too much help”, so that their coursework does not reflect their true abilities. It will be necessary to examine what kinds of jobs students are getting. First 5 may have more information about this.

Additional Points:

College is recommending an upward shift of the level students need to reach before beginning the ECE program with Project Access. In the past, the college recommended that students be ready to begin Level 3 ESL. Now the recommendation is that they complete Level 3 first.

Students for the Project Access program are recruited from adult school, but Contra Costa College also recruits for the program from among its own students.

Curriculum Mapping

The ESL levels at WCCAE are about the same as the “Adult School Example” levels on the ESL Service Landscape document. As in the example, WCCAE uses CASAS reading scores to place students, but also uses an oral test and some dictation in the placement process. The reading and oral scores are compared, and if there is a discrepancy, students are usually placed in the level indicated by the lower of the two scores, as that is their weak area.

Differences Between the CCC and WCCAE Systems

West Contra Costa Adult Education

Six levels of ESL: Literacy, Beginning Low, Beginning High, Intermediate Low, Intermediate High and Advanced

No Fees

Open entry/open exit (although some managed enrollment at Richmond High and Serra because students at these sites go through an orientation; orientations are held about every two weeks)

GED and Adult Secondary Education (High School Diploma)

More older students (over 24 years old)

Mission: student centered; give students basic and graduated English skills; orient students to U.S. culture

Some classes have homework, especially the higher level classes

Homework is corrected in class, and there is no penalty for non-completion

Some students may find community college scary

Many students have jobs

Certificates of accomplishment for level completion

Contra Costa College


Attendance guidelines and requirements

Prepare students to transition to college level classes or certificate programs

Homework required

Student population is getting younger

Some foreign students, although most foreign students go to Diablo Valley College

Certificates of accomplishment for level completion


A community college liaison person is needed. CCC used to have one, but lost funding. The need for a liaison person should be in the report to the state.

CCC, LEAP and WCCAE should share course outlines and assignments. At LEAP, course outlines should be given to Hilaria Wright.

CCC, LEAP and WCCAE need to meet and discuss and observe each other’s classes.

An Arabic language coordinator would be helpful, as West Contra Costa has a growing number of Arabic-speaking residents who are illiterate in their own language. There is a need for programs for preliterate students. We need to look at the demographics and who we are serving.

Field trips to the college that include taking the placement test would be helpful. We have done this in the past, but now students have to actually apply to the college and have an ID #. So this would be problematic for undocumented students.

Nooshi asked if the CASAS test is validated, noting that the community college has to get all its tests validated.

The CASAS test is a national standardized test that must be used by all California agencies that are receiving Workforce Investment Act (WIA) funding. WIA funding is tied to CASAS results.


Participants voted on four of the emerging strategies to discuss and discussed them in pairs. The pairs came up with the following ideas:

#1: Improved Assessment

Be aware of each other’s assessments (adult ed, library and college)

Incorporate information about goal setting, information about the college and college visits

Students should have an initial meeting with a counselor regarding goals, need for services, etc., and should have follow up visits with the counselor on a regular basis

WCCAE students should take the college assessment

#2 Alignment

Test adult school students with the CCC assessment

Liaisons meet and share curriculum for alignment. WCCAE needs to know what is expected at different levels at the college.

Align adult school with the college classes. What level of ESL could go into different departments?

Develop strategies to help students who have degrees, certificates and/or professional experience in the home country, but need to transition to working in the US and develop the English they need to do that (if necessary).

More bridge classes and English for Specific Purposes classes to prepare students for various community college programs (HVAC, etc.)

#4 Increase Awareness of Opportunities

CCC faculty visit WCCAE and LEAP and talk about what’s available.

Adult school and LEAP faculty visit CCC courses.

Assessment and college tour for adult school students

Information about how CCC, LEAP and WCCAE assessments coordinate

Ask incoming CCC students if they are coming from the adult school. This is on the application, but students may not understand it.

#6 Provide Transition and Wraparound Support Services

Transition advisors/case managers drawn from adult school students who have gone to the community college

Coordinator for both adult school and community college

Transportation, child support and financial support

The college has created an orientation class for ESL students

Services for students with learning disabilities need to be increased, and advocates are needed for students with disabilities.

We need better coordination with community services that can provide culturally sensitive or culturally appropriate assistance.










One Response

  1. Thank you, Kristen!

    Sent from my iPhone


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