Mendocino College Closes Equity Gaps for Latinx Students

December 10, 2020

In a report released by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC), Mendocino College is one of 13 California Community Colleges to close equity gaps for Latinx students and increase their success rates in English and math courses by broadening access to transfer-level and gateway courses. Titled “A New Era of Student Access at California’s Community Colleges”, the PPIC study indicates that the equity gap for Mendocino College Latinx students was completely closed for English and reached equity level for math by fall 2019. 

“Closing equity gaps are a collective effort,” says Mendocino College President Tim Karas. “The faculty and staff have done a tremendous job in transforming the English and mathematics pathways expanding access to transfer-level courses. The levels of success being achieved by our students is impressive. We are honored to be one of the 13 California Community Colleges recognized in the PPIC report.”  

Mendocino College students are benefiting from English and math acceleration efforts as well as the implementation of AB 705, which took effect in the 2019-2020 academic year. AB 705 requires community colleges across California to implement changes that maximize the number of students completing transfer-level coursework in math or English within one year. Included among those changes, is the ability to use high school GPA or prior English and mathematics coursework, and/or questionnaires as the primary criteria for placement recommendations, in lieu of placement exams which disproportionately directed students to remedial courses. 

“It's heartening that the PPIC report validates the efforts that our college has been working on for several years,” says Mendocino College English Instructor Ginny Buccelli. “The English and Math departments implemented changes to our pathways and our approaches to teaching well before AB 705 went into effect. The most exciting part is that our students are reaping the benefits.”  

Findings from the PPIC report and the three-page summary include: 

  • Access to college composition is now nearly universal. 
  • Equity gaps in access to college composition have narrowed. 
  • More students are successfully completing college composition. 
  • Access to transfer-level math more than doubled between fall 2018 and fall 2019. 
  • Racial inequities in access to transfer-level math have narrowed. 
  • As with college composition, more students are successfully completing transfer-level math. 
  • Corequisite courses, in which students receive additional academic support while enrolled in a transfer-level course, are more effective than traditional remediation. 
  • Progress is across the board, but racial inequities persist. 

The report also outlines work needed to be done across the California community college system to increase student access and success in college-level courses. The recommendations include refocusing academic advising and counseling, learning to serve students from diverse backgrounds and prioritizing closing equity gaps in students facing inequities exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.