Category Archives: Students

Day On 3 — November 27

WE ARE CCSF welcomes everyone who wants to REPAIR REBUILD RESTORE our college by focusing on positive solutions.

Wednesday, Nov. 27th, 9:30 AM – 1:30 PM

begins at 9 AM

Meet in front of the bookstore.

We are coming together to take concrete steps to address $1 billion in deferred maintenance at CCSF. Please join WE ARE CCSF, student athletes, and the Mayor’s Office as we roll up our sleeves and get to work:

  • Recycling & Composting
  • Litter Cleanup
  • Landscaping & Planting
  • Weed Pulling
  • Window Washing
  • Pruning & Raking

We are CCSF


Day On II at CCSF — Another Success

Saturday’s “Day On” at CCSF saw another 60 WeAreCCSF volunteers working to make sure City College stays open and in San Francisco for years to come. Together the alliance (Community, Classified, Students and Faculty) washed windows, pulled weeds, and picked up trash and recycling.

And it was great to be joined by CCSF administrators: new Chancellor Arthur Tyler; new Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs Susan Lamb; and newly appointed Dean of Student Affairs Samuel Santos. All three put their gloves on and worked with the rest of us.

The event saw expanded news coverage, including ABC 7, KRON 4, KTVU 2, KTSF 26, KPFA, The Guardsman (CCSF’s student paper) and Sing Tao Daily. Here’s a video of the KPFA piece:

Click here for more coverage.

Join WeAreCCSF for the next event — November 27, 10 AM – 1 PM — as we repair, rebuild, and restore City College.

Help Repair, Rebuild, and Restore CCSF


NOV. 2 10AM – 1PM



Join WE ARE CCSF (Community.Classified.Students.Faculty) and follow up the success of the first Day On.
Help repair, rebuild, and restore your college.



Work. Have fun. Join the WeAreCCSF community.


Check out the WeAreCCSF page:

Follow them on Twitter: @WeAreCCSF



Increasing college completion and closing achievement gaps: my experience in Metro Health Academy

There has been a lot of discussion in recent months at the national and local levels about the so-called “completion agenda” and, to a somewhat lesser extent, about closing achievement gaps for underrepresented students. My experience working with Metro Health Academy at City College of San Francisco (CCSF) has led me to some observations about how City College, and colleges more generally, can more effectively address the goals of increased completion and decreased achievement gaps.

Meto Health Academy’s mission — “to increase equity in college completion through engaging, supportive, rigorous, and socially relevant education”– speaks directly to the completion agenda. And,  as their website says, the program supports diverse students in:

  • Completing general education requirements with a small cohort of students who are interested in real world issues.
  • Preparing in an engaged learning environment to write effectively, speak powerfully, and think critically.
  • Building a solid foundation for meaningful work in public health, social services (from social work to mental health to the non-profit sector), the health care professions, or community organizing.
  • Helping our communities move toward health and social justice.

 In Spring 2013, I taught two sections of college level statistics — one section predominantly Metro students and one general population section. Materials, assignments, classroom activities, and evaluation for the two classes were essentially identical. A comparison of Metro students to general population students suggests that Metro is doing something that helps students succeed when they otherwise might not.

Although it’s not a random, controlled experiment, a few numbers are still useful to consider. In the Metro college-level statistics course:

35 Metro students began the course.

  • Two Metro stopped attending by the end of the semester (5.7%).
  • Nine Metro students stayed in class to the end, but didn’t pass (25.7%).

20 non-Metro students began the course.

  • Four non-Metro students stopped attending by the end of the semester (20.0%).
  • Four non-Metro students stayed in class to the end, but didn’t pass (20.0%).

By comparison, in the general population college-level statistics course:

42 students began the course

  • Six student stopped attending by the end of the semester (14.3%)
  • Seven students stayed in the class to the end, but didn’t pass (17.7%).

In sum:

  • Of 35 Metro students, 24 passed (68.6%)
  • Of 62 general population students in both sections, 36 passed (58.1%).

The evidence is not overwhelming, but the higher persistence and overall pass rates for Metro students are suggestive. And numbers aside, I often say that during an 18-week semester, something kind of bad is going to happen to pretty much everyone. These classes were no exception. There were deaths in students’ families, serious illnesses, and other personal crises that interfered with students’ abilities to focus on their schoolwork.  Yet, from my observation, Metro students were more resilient and more likely to seek out help when they struggled, either from me or from other resources. Even in the face of poor grades on tests or other work, Metro students were more likely to persist, whereas non-Metro students were more likely to disappear.

Consider also that Metro Health Academy students are disproportionately (compared to the general student population at CCSF) first-generation-in-college, underrepresented students. Thus, the program appears to close and even reverse achievement gaps that we usually see.

Comparing the support I see Metro students and faculty receiving compared to outside the program suggests some reasons for these improvements:

  • Attention to and support for students’ affective issues beyond the instructor
  • A community of teachers and learners that know each other and work together
  • Tutoring resources dedicated to the course
  • A directed, focused program of courses that link together and provide a clear pathway for students to transfer to a four-year school
  • Support for the instructors in the program from Metro staff in the form of both meaningful professional development and problem solving on the individual student level

If we’re really serious about making sure our students succeed, I think these are the kinds of qualities and interventions we need. Moreover, these are some of the qualities you see in elite private schools where failing students is basically not an option. And while the per-student cost for Metro students is a little higher than for general population students, we owe it to students to provide the extra support they need to succeed. After all, it’s not our job to act as gate keepers to degrees and certificates; it’s our job to do everything we can to help students achieve their educational goals.

The perils of conflating testing and accountability

Everyone wants a great education. And our city deserves a great community college. To do that, City College has to stop trying to keep everything the same as it’s always been and start finding what really works. We have to embrace our responsibility to our community and accept accountability. That isn’t easy, but it’s a fight worth having.

Teachers all over the nation and at every level decry the wrongs they see perpetrated by the so-called “testing” movement in public education. They explain that teaching and learning are complex activities, eluding simple tests of effectiveness. People do not usually learn in linear, easily monitored ways – the true result of a semester’s work may not be realized for a year or more. In addition, standardized tests have been repeatedly shown to be biased to people from different socio-economic groups, ethnicities, first-languages, and other issues of identity. And many teachers object to being evaluated based on students’ test results, because of the complexities mentioned above.

While I agree with much of the criticism of standardized tests (see also The Coming Revolution in Public Education in the Atlantic), I also see that the move toward greater accountability, which is at the root of the testing movement, is positive. More accountability means more information for students, parents, and the public in general. More accountability means there is less chance of failing systems and schools continuing to function without change. More accountability is good for students.

Conforming to the national trends toward greater accountability in education, the California legislature and our accrediting commission (ACCJC) are asking community colleges to be more transparent in our work, to assess our selves and our students more effectively, and to provide data to the public about our success and failures with students. They are also asking us to be more efficient with public dollars and to concentrate on job training, transfer to four-year institutions, and basic skills. Despite my belief that money spent on education is almost always a good investment, this is a reasonable request. More importantly, we are public servants in a public institution and we have to listen to what our society is telling us.

Unfortunately, some community college faculty don’t want to be more accountable. Some want desperately to protect the status quo at our colleges, even though we fail, both metaphorically and literally, way too many of our students, especially if those students are African-American, Latino/a, Filipino/a, or Pacific Islander (see the Student Success Scorecard for data). Those faculty sometimes conflate the testing movement with the trend toward increased accountability. Whether the conflation is intentional or not, the effect is to scare other faculty into fighting against both testing and accountability – that is, into fighting for the status quo – even though many of them believe change in higher education is needed.

At no community college in California is the conflation and fear of the testing movement and the trend toward more accountability stronger than at City College of San Francisco, where many faculty have been fighting the statewide Student Success Task Force, the subsequent Student Success Act of 2012, and now the ACCJC sanctions. There has been less protest about the standardized testing movement, but it comes up occasionally as an example of what’s wrong with the reforms being asked for by the ACCJC.

But it is false to equate the testing movement with the accountability movement. No one, neither the ACCJC nor the California state legislature, is trying to force community colleges to administer the kinds of standardized testing that K-12 public schools must use or to be penalized for how students do on them. Community college faculty are not in danger of losing our jobs or of having our salaries based on student test performance.

On the other hand, community colleges are in danger of losing some state funding if students don’t want to take our classes or if students don’t stay in our classes through the whole semester. Community colleges are also in danger of losing accreditation if we plan and prioritize poorly and don’t have clear links between our finances and our plans.

Being more accountable, more transparent, and more responsible is a good thing. We are public employees and we are paid through public funds, so we are and should be accountable to the public. Information about how classes are taught, what students learn, and how well students do should be generally available and we as teachers and as institutions should be held responsible for our work. If we’re not responsive to the needs of our students and community, we should be penalized.

When we conflate standardized testing with accountability, fighting both, we fight the good of accountability rather than just the bad of standardized tests.

So rather than fighting to save a failing status quo, CCSF and community colleges broadly should be fighting to save our students by providing really great classes they want to take, with excellent support both in and out of the classroom. Many at CCSF and at other colleges understand that if students come to our colleges and succeed, the state will be happy to fund our work. If students don’t come or don’t succeed, the state has every right to put the money somewhere else.

SMAC/Coleman Demands for Sustaining City College

Students Making a Change and Coleman Advocates for Children and Youth come out with a clear vision for how to fix City College and for how the college should look as it works to emerge from the current crisis:

City College of San Francisco is facing an uncertain future, and the lives of marginalized students are most at stake.  Students Making A Change (SMAC) and Coleman Advocates for Children and Youth are calling on the administration, Board of Trustees, faculty and classified staff to stand with students and support our demands for increasing accountability, transparency, equity, local control, and student voice/representation, as well as SMAC’s specific policy, fiscal, and structural reform recommendations.

Click here to go to the Coleman e-alert and a link to more details.

Is CCSF Going to Close? — SMAC and Coleman Break it Down

Figuring out what’s really going on at City College its accreditation can be hard, but CCSF students in Students Making a Change (SMAC), along with Coleman Advocates for Children and Youth break it down in a clear, four-scenario explanation. The bottom line:

“No matter what, there are going to be changes—some budget cuts are going to happen, which will hurt, but the first priority is to make sure that City College stays open for students to get their education!”

See all the details at:

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