What is the Basic Skills Initiative?
The Basic Skills Initiative (BSI) is a landmark statewide effort to address basic skills needs by providing:

  • information on effective practices
  • professional development to allow colleges to examine their basic skills efforts and how to improve them
  • funding for colleges to act on the results of their self-assessment
Phase I of the project was completed in early 2007 with release of the report Basic Skills as a Foundation for Student Success in the California Community Colleges. This report included an extensive literature review of over 250 sources, a self-assessment tool for colleges to use on their own campuses, and a cost–revenue tool campuses can use to help make the case for expanding non-traditional programs, often believed to be too expensive.

Phase II of the project kicked off in March 2007, with FHDA and the state Academic Senate teaming up to provide professional development to all 109 California CCs through a series of 20 regional trainings. These trainings prepare college teams to go back to their campuses and lead the self-assessment of current Basic Skills practices. In this self-assessment, faculty, staff, and administrators from across the campus reflected on how their current approaches align with research findings identifying effective practices for basic skills students.

This self-assessment is not going to be submitted in an official capacity to the Chancellor’s Office; rather, it is intended to stimulate a cycle of inquiry on the campus. A short action plan is submitted to the Chancellor’s Office annually starting in May 2008, based on key gaps identified through the self-assessment process and the focus determined for any given year. Funding is attached to the project; Foothill will likely get $100,000 per year in new categorical money from the State to support these new approaches to Basic Skills.
Our Approach
The Academic Senate and the Office of Instruction solicited volunteers to a Basic Skills Initiative committee in Spring 2007, consisting of 35–40 staff, faculty and administrators from across the campus. Twenty people from this committee attended Foothill’s regional training on September 28 at the College of San Mateo. A follow-up meeting was held on October 2 with the entire Foothill College Basic Skills Initiative committee.

The team put together a self-assessment plan for the year, which included breaking the large group into four themed investigative teams. These faculty and staff led a larger conversation across the campus on basic skills practices at Foothill and reported their initial findings to Foothill's Basic Skills Initiative committee on January 17, 2008. During Winter Quarter, the four themed groups worked on specific recommendations stemming from the larger conversation about where to focus our efforts and new funding, which they presented on April 10, 2008. A draft action plan was sent out to Foothill's Basic Skills Initiative committee with a combined list of all the recommendations.

On June 12, 2008, the committee began prioritizing the action plan and began implementing new strategies Fall Quarter 2008. To carry on the planning and updating of the Basic Skills Initiative efforts, this group was formed as the College Skills Committee. Efforts of this group centered around two strands of basic skills services: Tutoring and Learning Communities. Their work culminated with a formal presentation to the college governing council in June of 2010. The College Skills Committee asked for a stronger connection to the decisions being made at the college governing council.

The group was reformed beginning Fall 2010 to become one of the four Core Mission Workgroups. The Basic Skills Workgroup continues to lead the Basic Skills Initiative planning at Foothill College, and is represented on the new Planning and Resource Council (PaRC). We look forward to the innovative thinking and new ideas this process has and will stimulate, and we know that in the end we can improve the outcomes for our most underprepared and often historically underrepresented students.  

Our Action Plans
Links to Related Web Pages