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  • 1Relationships CountJeanne Belisle Lombardo

    7Some Findings on

    the Academic VocabularySkills of Language-Minority

    Community College StudentsMaricel G. Santos

    10The Open Door Policy

    Deepa Rao

    14ODWIN: A Program

    Rooted in HistoryMary Tacelli

    17A Conversation with FOB

    Why Go Beyond the GED?

    19EdCAP: A Transition

    Program in TransitionKaren Johnson, Barbara Haas,

    Barbara Harrell, & Roy Alameida

    22Building the Desire, Building the Ability

    Brenda Dann-Messier & Eva I. Kampits

    26Approaches to ABE Transition

    to Postsecondary EducationJudith A. Alamprese

    28Pathways to College

    for Academically Under-prepared Students

    Jessica Spohn & Silja Kallenbach

    30A Conversation with FOB

    Transitions and Math



    WORLD EDUCATION NCSALLVolume 6, Issue D February 2004

    Relationships CountTransitioning ESOL students into community college takes collaboration and personalized services by Jeanne Belisle Lombardo

    Amajor concern in working with students of English forspeakers of other languages (ESOL) is advancing theirlanguage skills significantly before they enter communitycollege. They want to enter college at a high academic English as a Second Language (ESL) level or move directly into credit-bearingcourses leading towards a certificate or degree. Rio Salado College, one of the ten colleges in the Maricopa Community College District(MCCCD) in Tempe, AZ, administers an adult basic education(ABE) program that serves nearly 5000 ESOL

    Focus onBasicsI N T H I S I S S U E :


    continued on page 3


    Focus onBasics

    F ocus on Basics is the quarterlypublication of the NationalCenter for the Study of AdultLearning and Literacy. It presents bestpractices, current research on adultlearning and literacy, and how researchis used by adult basic education teach-ers, counselors, program administrators,and policymakers. Focus on Basics isdedicated to connecting research withpractice, to connecting teachers withresearch and researchers with the realityof the classroom, and by doing so,making adult basic education researchmore relevant to the field.

    All subscription and editorial correspondence should be sent to:

    Focus On BasicsWorld Education44 Farnsworth StreetBoston, MA 022101211e-mail address:

    Focus on Basics is copyrighted, but weurge readers to photocopy and circulatethe publication widely. When reprintingarticles, please credit Focus on Basicsand the National Center for the Studyof Adult Learning and Literacy.

    Editor: Barbara GarnerLayout: Mary T. White Illustrator: Mary T. WhiteProofreader: Celia Hartmann

    Focus on Basics is published by theNational Center for the Study of AdultLearning and Literacy (NCSALL).NCSALL is funded by the EducationalResearch and Development CentersProgram, Award Number R309B60002,as administered by the Office of Educa-tional Research and Improvement,U.S. Department of Education.

    The contents of Focus on Basics do notnecessarily represent the positions or policies of NCSALL or World Education;the Office of Educational Researchand Improvement; or the U.S. Depart-ment of Education, and you should notassume endorsement by the FederalGovernment.

    Welcome!Few would debate the value of postsecondary education, especially for General

    Educational Development (GED) credential holders and high-level students of Englishfor speakers of other languages (ESOL) who have high school diplomas. Making ithappen is the challenge. The sad truth is that many adult basic education (ABE) studentsdont perceive of college as a place for them. Being an older than average student, oftenwith family responsibilities, creates a social barrier. Those who do enroll often find thattheir academic skills, while sufficient to pass the GED, or their English skills, while finefor daily life, need strengthening before they can place into courses in which they canearn credits towards graduation. And the cost of college and correlated lost wages is anever growing perhaps the greatest barrier to enrolling or persisting in postsecondaryeducation. Nonetheless, college remains the key to economic opportunity for all students.

    It is encouraging, therefore, to find a growing number of ABE providers adding whatwe call transition programs designed to encourage students to enroll and enable themto persist in postsecondary education. These programs usually partner in some way withpostsecondary institutions, providing counseling and academic services tailored to theneeds of ABE students who are college-bound or enrolled in college. Focus on Basicstalked to NCSALL researcher John Tyler about why college is such an economicnecessity: that interview begins on page 17. For an overview of the growing transitionmovement and a snapshot of different program models, turn to the article by JudyAlamprese (page 26) and chart by Jessica Spohn and Silja Kallenbach (page 28).

    A strong program design is important for a successful transition program, but it isrelationships that make it work, found Jeanne Belisle Lombardo and her colleagues at RioSalado College in Arizona. She describes this in our cover story.

    Those responsible for strengthening students academic skills which is a componentin all transition programs will find Maricel G. Stantos research (page 7) on the academicvocabulary skills needed by language minority students useful. Another stumbling blockfor students aspiring to college is math, and algebra in particular. A team of ABE mathexperts from around the country talked with Focus on Basics (page 30) about why mathposes such a problem and what to do about it.

    Not all transition programs are young, and not all are additions to existing ABE pro-grams. Massachusetts ODWIN center was established specifically to enable adults whohad career aspirations that depended upon postsecondary schooling to fulfill their dreams.Director Mary Tacelli writes about the origins and current face of the program that hashelped about 3000 students succeed in college since its inception in 1964 (page 14).

    Rhode Islands Dorcas Place staff found that not all ABE and ESOL students havepostsecondary aspirations. Introducing students to college as a place for them is an impor-tant part of that program, as is building a sense of cohort among students as they makethe transition to college. Brenda Dann-Messier and Eva I. Kampits describe the programin the article that starts on page 22.

    Even with the best intentions, getting a transition program up and running smoothlyand effectively is not easy. Go to page 19 to read a candid account of the glitches andsnags the staff at the transition program at Edmonds Community College in Washingtonfaced in establishing their program, and how they addressed them.

    Why are transition programs so important? If students place into remedial courses, asthey too often do, the already daunting costs of postsecondary education rise. World Educa-tions Deepa Rao writes insightfully about this issue (page 10). Heed her suggestions, find apostsecondary partner, and develop an effective, flexible transition program for your students.


    Barbara GarnerEditor

  • Focus onBasics


    Relationships Countcontinued from page 1

    students a year. In responseto the need to move academi-cally capable ESOL studentsinto postsecondary educationaland training opportunities in the MCCCD system, thecollege established a transitionprogram in the summer of1998.

    Rio Salado College had longrecognized the need for a formaltransition program. In 1998, theArizona State legislature decided tosupport such a program with statefunds. The Legislature changed theexisting regulatory language andallowed community colleges pro-viding ABE services in Arizona tocollect Full Time Student Equivalentmoney (FTSE) to support transitionprograms. FTSE (pronounced footsie)is state aid money paid to the com-munity college based on studenthours. With its funding assured, theTransition Program at Rio Salado waslaunched with two program advisors,a half-time counselor, and a dataentry clerk.

    This structure was expanded ayear later to include a full-time coordi-nator, three full-time transition advisors,and an administrative secretary. Oneof these advisors works exclusivelywith ESOL students, recruiting a totalof about 150 new students a year, ofwhom about half are ESOL students.Most of Rio Salado Colleges ESOLtransition students are Hispanic,predominantly Mexican, 50 percentmale and 50 percent female, single,and between the ages of 21 and 36.

    Some older students are married andhave one or two children. In additionto Mexico, students come from otherLatin American countries, Asia,Europe and the former Soviet Union,Africa, and theMiddle East. Incontrast to manylower-level ESOLstudents, most ESOLTransition Programstudents are bettereducated in theircountry of origin,having finished atleast high school.More than half areemployed, at leastpart-time, and mosttake one or twoclasses a semester afterthey complete the transition. Manyare recent arrivals to the UnitedStates and show enthusiasm for theopportunities represented by the pro-gram. With few recruiting problems,the focus is on better preparing themfor college.

    The three Transition Programadvisors form the backbone of theprogram. One focuses on recruitingstudents from approximately 20 to 25advanced ESOL classes, spendingabout 30 percent of his time on this.Visits to classes are spaced so that theadvisor visits each class about once a month. The advisor adjusts thefrequency of visits based on thereadiness of students at a particularsite. Variables include when thestudents started in t