Increasing Opportunities for Immigrant Students: Community College Strategies for Success

This report seeks to identify the key elements of a comprehensive and systemic approach to the challenge of educating immigrant students .

Jill Casner-Lotto
Author(s) Organizational Affiliation
Community College Consortium for Immigrant Education (CCCIE)
Publication Year
Resource Type
Informational Material
Number of Pages
Product Type

The Community College Consortium for Immigrant Education (CCCIE) is a network of 23 community colleges and other organizations that have joined together to increase educational and workforce opportunities for immigrant students. This report, written by CCCIE Director Jill Casner-Lotto, seeks to identify the key elements of a comprehensive and systemic approach to the challenge of educating immigrant students.  A growing demographic for community colleges, immigrant students are often older, nontraditional students juggling jobs and family responsibilities. The report proposes a "framework" of "11 key factors" predictive of success in this area. These include: executive-level commitment, proactive outreach, community-wide needs analysis, ESL program redesign, comprehensive assessment, holistic support services, more sophisticated data collection efforts, faculty professional development,  student leadership development, multi-sector partnerships, and peer-learning efforts. The report describes "promising practices" in each of these areas. The report concludes with a series of recommendations for action and investment by federal, state, and private funders.

What the experts say

This resource is an outstanding collection of important data and programs leading the field of ESL and immigrant educational opportunities that could be used as a comprehensive reference for administrators and providers. It sets out a new direction in serving immigrant adult students. The approaches highlighted here are innovative, comprehensive, and holistic.

The great thing about this resource is that it is all about linking research to meaningful practice. In essence, the entire product is a framework for implementing the best, most innovative programs available throughout the country. I loved the initial Framework in Action: At a Glance on page 6. It sets out the intentions of the product resource and gives background for how determinations for each section were made. Pages 13-39 provide an alignment through case studies and stories of promising practices and the identified key factors. Additionally, the Redesign of ESL Programs beginning on page 18, Comprehensive and Culturally Sensitive Assessment of Immigrant Students Needs beginning on page 25, and A Holistic, Integrated Approach to Student Support Services beginning on page 26 establish and highlight not only the goals, but the aspirational foundations, of this resource. These sections in particular highlight the fact that this resource is not your everyday, run-of-the-mill ESL program outline. The final Recommendations for Action on pages 40-43 are also very meaningful and helpful. 

The report cites that according to one estimate, immigrants and their children are expected to account for all workforce growth over the next 20 years and that by the year 2030, nearly one in five U.S. workers will be an immigrant. This resource could be useful to community colleges and educational institutions who have not yet or have only minimally addressed the need to ensure educational access and success for immigrants. Furthermore, this resource could be a starting point for community discussions, private/public partnerships, and policy evolution as the information is foundational to expanding workforce readiness, community solvency and growth, and supporting the local, regional, and global economies. 

In addition, I can see this resource available at a library or distributed by a guidance counselor to immigrant students. The programs cited and described in this collection are leaders in the field of ESL and immigrant educational opportunities and access to their contact information for students would be invaluable. This layout makes it easier for the reader to identify/research the areas of local/regional need. Access to the same information would be helpful to administrators beginning to address immigrant student needs.

This resource is laid out well and has good references and resources.  It clearly establishes a set of practices that in many ways should be a part of every student’s community college experience.

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