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Cuyamaca College Receives State Diversity and Equity Award

EL CAJON, CA – Cuyamaca College is one of two California community colleges to be honored with the 18th annual Dr. John W. Rice Diversity & Equity Award for its innovative program that markedly increased the number of students who have completed their math and English classes.

Cuyamaca College President Julianna Barnes and other representatives from the college received the award from Community Colleges Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley at the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento. Santa Barbara City College was also honored for a program that assists single parents who are new or returning to college.

The award is named for a former member of the California Community Colleges Board of Governors who served from 1992 until his death in 2000. It honors community colleges that have made the greatest contribution toward student, faculty or staff diversity and equity.

"We commend this year's winners for working tirelessly in their efforts to achieve student equity in higher education," Oakley says. "Dr. John W. Rice believed in the importance of diversity and equity and these programs we celebrate today are wonderful examples of the dedication that Dr. Rice stood for."

Cuyamaca College's accelerated pathways program, the first of its kind among California community colleges, shakes up the traditional way in which students are placed into math, English, and English as a Second Language classes and how they are taught in those classes. Instead of solely relying on an assessment test, the college places students in the classes based on their high school grade-point average and courses. And instead of requiring underprepared students to take several remedial classes, students are placed in a transfer-level course and given additional support.

The results have been impressive. As a result of the innovative approach, the number of students who completed math classes was seven times greater overall, six times greater for business and science-oriented students, and nine times greater for African-American students.

Accelerated English and ESL classes showed similar gains, which has not only shortened the time that students spent taking classes, but also increased students' completion rates in freshman composition classes.

"It's imperative to give all students the opportunity to succeed in their education," Barnes says. "The results at Cuyamaca College show what is possible when we advance an equity-minded culture and transform placement and remediation.”

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