Programs for "Under-Prepared" College Students: A Tale of Unintended Consequences

Tuesday, March 14, 2017
12:00pm-1:00pm with lunch to follow
Academic Innovation Studio Dwinelle 117 
English Instructor, Chabot College and Co-Founder of the California Acceleration Project (CAP)
Professor, Mathematics, Los Medanos College and Co-Founder of the California Acceleration Project (CAP)


Traditionally, about 80% of California community college students have been classified “unprepared” upon entry and required to enroll in remedial courses in English, reading, math, and/or English as a second language. These courses are intended to help students be more successful, but the more remedial courses students are required to take, the less likely they are to ever reach their college goals. And because Black and Hispanic students are disproportionately placed into remediation, these policies are a primary driver of racial achievement gaps and a lack of diversity in students transferring to the University of California and California State University systems. As Co-Founders of the California Acceleration Project (CAP), Professors Katie Hern and Myra Snell help the state's 113 community colleges to address these problems. To date, more than 75% of California community colleges are implementing new policies and curricula with CAP support. Hern and Snell were named to the Washington Monthly's 2016 list of the "Sixteen Most Innovative People in Higher Education" for this work. 

Dr. Katie Hern is an English Instructor at Chabot College and Co-Founder of the California Acceleration Project (CAP). Hern speaks nationally on remediation reform and integrated reading and writing. Her publications focus on the equity imperative of transforming remediation, the need to rethink community college placement practices, and design principles for teaching accelerated English and math. Hern began teaching English composition at Bowling Green State University in 1991. Her past roles include serving as Co-Director of California's Faculty Inquiry Network and Dean of Academic Affairs for John F. Kennedy University. She holds a doctorate in Educational Leadership from Mills College.

Professor Myra Snell has been teaching mathematics at Los Medanos College for 24 years. In 2008 she developed a statistics pathway for underprepared students. At LMC, 60% of the students in this pathway complete transferable math, compared to 20% in traditional remediation. In 2010, Myra co-founded the California Acceleration Project with Katie Hern. Over the last 6 years, CAP has helped 35 California community colleges to implement accelerated statistics pathways for underprepared students. In the first cohort of 8 colleges, students in accelerated Statistics pathways were 4.5 times more likely to complete transferable math, and African American students quadrupled their completion rate. In 2014 Myra was one of four finalists for the national Faculty Innovation award from the American Association of Community Colleges. In 2016 Washington Monthly included her and Katie Hern in their list of the 16 Most Innovative People in Higher Education. Myra holds a Masters in Pure Mathematics from UCB.

 For more information on the California Acceleration Project, contact: or visit