Basic Skills Initiative Overview

The Basic Skills Initiative (BSI) has been a collaborative statewide effort to address the needs of community college students who are academically underprepared to succeed in their coursework. 

Student Equity and Achievement

Starting in 2020, De Anza College has consolidated its Basic Skills Initiative (BSI), Student Equity (SE) program and Student Success and Support Program (SSSP) under the Student Equity and Achievement (SEA) program. SEA was established under state Education Code Section 78222 to support Guided Pathways and help eliminate achievement gaps. Please visit the Planning for Equity website for more information about the SEA program at De Anza College.

BSI Background*

In 2004, the California Community College System office began a comprehensive strategic planning process for the purpose of improving student access and success. On January 17, 2006, the Board of Governors of the California Community Colleges unanimously adopted the final draft of the Strategic Plan. The plan includes five strategic goal areas: college awareness and access; student success and readiness; partnerships for economic and workforce development; system effectiveness; and resource development. The goal of student success and readiness contains seven areas of focus, one of which is basic skills, as the Strategic Plan describes:

Ensure that basic skills development is a major focus and an adequately funded activity of
the Community Colleges.

To successfully participate in college-level courses, many Community College students need precollegiate math and/or English skill development. The goal is to identify model basic skills and English as a Second Language programs and their key features and, given availability of funds, to facilitate replication across the Colleges. In addition, best practices in classrooms and labs and descriptions of effective learning environments will be collected and disseminated widely to inform and assist both credit and noncredit programs. However, noncredit basic skills courses are funded at approximately 60 percent of the rate provided to credit basic skills courses, which is a disincentive for colleges to offer those courses. The Colleges need to gather practices with high effectiveness rates, such as innovative program structures, peer support, and counseling, and acquire funding to implement these approaches to reach all students needing basic skills education.

The study presented here was commissioned by the California Community Colleges System Office to identify effective practices in basic skills programs, as outlined above. The Center for Student Success (CSS), which is affiliated with the Research and Planning (RP) Group for California Community Colleges, was selected to conduct the study. There are three major components of the study

  • An extensive review of the literature related to basic skills practices, as well as an overview of examples of strategies employed by 33 California community colleges and nine out-of state institutions.
  • A self-assessment tool which will allow colleges to reflect on how their current practices fit with the findings from the literature regarding what are known to be effective practices for basic skills students.
  • A cost/revenue model for developmental education programs which provides a way to explore the incremental revenues that can be derived over time from such programs.

*See "Basic Skills as a Foundation for Success in California Community Colleges."


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