[Assessment 1186] Re: (no subject)

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jhalaesl at aol.com jhalaesl at aol.com
Fri Feb 8 11:50:59 EST 2008

Not always the reason for an LEA-to-local college turnover of those federal and state adult ed funds
In my experience, it has simply and sadly been the result of limited resources and insufficient funds.
And in some areas a CBO (not an LEA) manages those grant programs, offers classes free to the lowest literacy ESL/ESOL students, and is never able to fully bridge the gap between very part-time instruction and college.

One key element to our small successes has been having colleagues in each institution (local college, LEA, CBO, gov't DOE/DOL) who understand the dynamics and the gaps. Granted, most are still limited by the systems in which they work and to which they must be accountable. But there is still much to be said for permitting ourselves some case-by-case thinking, making those simple phone calls, and asking.

Joanne Hala
Literacy Serrvices
Jointure for Community Adult Education, Inc.

’ve heard an increasing number of stories about
areas were the LEA runs the federal/state  adult education ESL grant program
and has asked the local college to take it over (because the LEA has concluded
it’s an “adult” program). Have there been any rumblings of
that in your area?

-----Original Message-----
From: Forrest Chisman <forrest at crosslink.net>
To: 'The Assessment Discussion List' <assessment at nifl.gov>
Sent: Fri, 8 Feb 2008 10:42 am
Subject: [Assessment 1179] Re: (no subject)



Thanks for the explanation. I find it VERY useful. It’s a
very interesting model. I’m not surprised that your students are motivated
for college, because they’ve signed up for a college prep track! What worries
me are the limited aspirations of many lower level ESL students who may have college


I understand now why you don’t have the resources to operate
a more comprehensive program. I’ve heard an increasing number of stories about
areas were the LEA runs the federal/state  adult education ESL grant program
and has asked the local college to take it over (because the LEA has concluded
it’s an “adult” program). Have there been any rumblings of
that in your area?


Best of luck in your good work.




assessment-bounces at nifl.gov [mailto:assessment-bounces at nifl.gov] On Behalf
Of Hinkle, Robert

Sent: Friday, February 08, 2008 9:42 AM

To: The Assessment Discussion List; The Assessment Discussion List

Subject: [Assessment 1174] Re: (no subject)


I believe we do have a hard time getting enough students fed into
our program and with the appropriate background to succeed if they do come to
us. It is a real problem. There are some workplace ESL programs which are run
through our Corporate and Continuing Education Office, but those students
rarely, if ever, come to us. And they serve the employees of specific companies
as opposed to the community at large.


ESL program is within an academic department in the college (Communication and
Languages) and so is run like every other. ESL students pay the same tuition
and fees as all other students at the college. We do not receive special
government funding beyond what the state and counties provide for the college
as a whole as a part of our yearly budget.


are probably a big reason why we are getting fewer students at the low levels.
Community programs are free or low cost; although in the scheme of higher
education, the community college is less expensive, it may still be out of
reach of many students.


terms of having a more comprehensive program, we are limited by a small staff,
and the unlikelihood of being able to expand given college budgeting
restraints. In addition, our three full-time faculty members (including myself)
not only teach 15 credit hours per semester but also do the administrative work
required. We do advising, scheduling, and the many other tasks associate with
keeping the program afloat. The only "official" administrative
support for the program is through the 3 hours of overload I receive to serve
as Adjunct Coordinator.


belief that they can attend college does not seem to be a problem with our
population although I can certainly see that it could be. A growing problem for
us (and many around the country) is the disconnect between high schools and
colleges in terms of student preparation. Either the high schools do not think
the students are college-bound and so don't bother to give them a college-prep
course of study, or there is simply a growing gap between the expectations of
each. Additionally, students seem to think that a high school diploma equates
to college readiness.


do our best to advise students, but we don't always have enough time - and as
professors primarily - may not know ourselves what all of the options for
students are.




From: assessment-bounces at nifl.gov on behalf of
Forrest Chisman

Sent: Thu 2/7/2008 10:38 PM

To: 'The Assessment Discussion List'

Subject: [Assessment 1172] Re: (no subject)

Dear Kevin,


Many thanks for providing all of us with a profile of your
program. Seeing the variety of college program goals and designs is extremely
valuable in stimulating ideas about how to do a better job in delivering ESL.


Personally, I think that it is perfectly valid for colleges to
elect to offer solely pre-academic ESL at the non-credit level. But it does
prompt the concern about whether other programs in the college’s service
area are providing non-academic ESL to large enough numbers of students and at
a high enough quality to “feed” the college program – as well
as how well their efforts articulate with yours. I wonder whether this troubles
you, and if so whether/how you have addressed the issue.  Frankly, I think
one reason why many colleges offer comprehensive ESL programs is that they
would prefer to “make” pre-academic students themselves, rather
than rely on others to do it. Another reason, of course, if that they may not
be eligible for federal/state grant money unless they offer comprehensive
programs. Does your college receive these funds to support its pre-academic
program? If not, how is it supported financially?


I heartily agree that helping students set realistic goals and
understand their options is essential. I believe, however, that encouraging
students to expand their goals as they succeed is also essential. For example,
many immigrants come from countries where going to college is the privilege of
very few, and thus may consider that an unrealistic goal  unless they are
encouraged to take the steps necessary (often one step at a time). The problem
seems to be that it is hard for most programs to find the resources to provide
very much guidance of any of these kinds to most students. I wonder if anyone
has any solutions to THAT issue.


In any event, many thanks for fleshing out an interesting model.




assessment-bounces at nifl.gov [mailto:assessment-bounces at nifl.gov] On Behalf
Of Hinkle, Robert

Sent: Wednesday, February 06, 2008 9:19 PM

To: assessment at nifl.gov

Subject: [Assessment 1148] (no subject)


Hi All,


I have been reading most of the discussion comments and wanted to
address a few issues. First, however, I'll give a summary of our program.


teach ESL at Raritan Valley Community College in New Jersey. Our program serves
approximately 350 students from diverse language backgrounds. Our program
offers two pre-academic levels of all skills ESL instruction (a six hour per
week non-credit class). In addition, we have 5 levels of academic ESL
preparation divided into three courses - Reading/Writing, Grammar, and
Speaking/Listening). Our highest level Reading/Writing course gives successful
students 6 elective credits that count towards RVCC graduation, but those
credits do not transfer. Our semesters are 15 weeks. If a student misses 20% of
any class, the instructor may withdraw that student (they are not, however,
obliged to withdraw these students). At the moment, the late enrollment policy
is that students may register for a course prior to the second week of class
but not thereafter. Research, of course, indicates that students who begin a
class late have a much higher rate of failure than those who begin on time.


our program, we have three full-time faculty and approximately 16-18 adjuncts.


have focused our program on academic prep ESL because we are a small program
with limited resources, and we have a very difficult time finding qualified
adjuncts. Also, a significant majority of our students have signalled
their intention to obtain a college degree. Moreover, there are community
programs that offer basic English skills although there is often a long waiting
list to obtain the services. In other issues, we use the Accuplacer ESL test
for placement and have in-house standardized tests at the end of each level of
grammar and reading/writing


our classes, highly educated non-native speakers usually progress much more
quickly. One of the most challenging groups is students who graduated from
local high schools but still have inadequate English skills - and not
infrequently, weak academic skills in general. One of the strategies that I
would personally wish for is real communication between K-12 and community
colleges so that students get the language skills they need before they enter
college. I understand that there is great pressure to move students out of ESL
in many school districts, but ultimately, it does a huge disservice both
financially and in terms of motivation to students whose skills remain more


agree with those who suggest that first language literacy issues should be
addressed before students enter ESL. However, it becomes complicated to find
funding and support for such efforts. In my experience, students with low level
literacy skills become frustrated and are not ultimately successful -
probably by any definition. I am uncomfortable with the idea that they are
spending hard-earned money when the chances for success in ESL are minimal. We
advise students that the program is academically-oriented; often they have
little understanding of what that means.


do not agree with the suggestion that the bar be lowered so that students with
low-intermediate skills be allowed in credit classes (at least at my college).
Historically, other faculty have little experience handling language issues and
are very unhappy when students cannot read, write and converse at an
appropriate level of English. They end up feeling helpless. Students may pass
classes; however, I suspect that instructors do not want to deal with the
challenges and so turn a blind eye and let them through. Recently, there has
been a problem in the nursing department with non-native English speaking
students not passing board exams because they enter the college from other
programs and circumvent ESL with us. They have trouble reading and answering
questions on the exam. This is a significant problem because nursing programs
are judged in terms of the success of their students on these standardized


think the measure of success should be based on a realistic assessment of
student goals combined with a real-life discussion of the possibilities and
limitations. Ideally, students would have incremental goals so that success
could build. If the goals for students with low literacy levels are not
carefully discussed and planned, then they will likely encounter more failure
than success because their expectaions will be unrealistic. The more we have
the opportunity to talk to students, the more likely it is that they can
develop short-term goals that are within their reach. Unfortunately, we have no
control over the myriad of complications that accrue in their every day lives.


for the length.


Kevin Hinkle, Ph.D.

Professor of ESL/Adjunct Coordinator

National Institute for Literacy
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