De Anza surrounds basic skill students with academic support and student services. The college offers 60 associate degrees and 125 certificate programs. To navigate through these options, students can take advantage of an extensive range of programs and services. Learning Communities, for example, link two or more courses with a common theme. Students develop mastery by studying material from different angles in a supportive group atmosphere. The Student Success Center, though physically based in one building, is not so much a ‘center’ as a web of academic support, stretching across and connecting diverse student populations and areas of study. The SSC integrates nine support programs, and engages the talents of hundreds of faculty, peer tutors, and staff.
De Anza by the numbers:
300 Full-time faculty
635 Part-time faculty
60 Degree programs
125 Certificate programs
$2,075: Average annual cost for fees, books and supplies (CA residents)
Source: De Anza College website
Concern for Equity: Attention to monitoring success
A measure of De Anza’s commitment to increasing the success of its students is the extent to which it values and uses data to guide curricular changes and institutional planning. Faculty review de-aggregated data reports to understand the progress of subgroups of the college's diverse population. The college’s institutional researcher focuses much of his work on basic skills issues. His current projects include tracking the success of academic division retention teams and of a faculty mentoring pilot that measures retention rates among students whose instructors reach out to them early in the academic year. The institutional researcher is also studying the ways students apply for financial aid. He is tracking the effect of financial aid advisors who proactively reach out to basic skills students in their classrooms, giving information about services and explaining how to get help with aid applications.
Math is a classic “gatekeeper course,” too often standing between students and their academic goals. De Anza has a number of innovative strategies to help students. The most intensive intervention program is Math Performance Success. This three-course sequence doubles the usual amount of class and tutorial time, and assigns a counselor as well as tutors to the classroom. Students must apply to the program, and every year many are turned away. Having failed math multiple times is a virtual pre-requisite, which makes the program’s 85 to 95 percent pass rate all the more striking.
Practices validated in Math Performance Success have been integrated into developmental math classes available to a broader group of students. The EnableMath program increases hours in lectures and in labs, where students use a mastery-oriented computer program to reinforce concepts taught in class. A system of immediate feedback helps target advising. Counselors assigned to each class tract individual progress, and work to identify and support students at risk. EnableMath is in its fourth year and has served thousands of students. The program attracts a high proportion of African American, Latino, Filipino and first-generation students. Data analyses confirm a significant increase in success and retention.