A Cuesta College Latina Leadership Network (LLN)
Position Paper on Credit by Exam for Spanish Courses
At a time when California Community Colleges face a wide range of challenges, it is incumbent upon staff, faculty, and administrators to problem solve to develop alternatives for clearing unnecessary barriers that delay and often impede student success.
There is currently a small improvement our institution can make to help primary native Spanish speakers attain their goals more efficiently and simultaneously increase Cuesta's Full-Time Equivalency (FTE) within the language department.
Cuesta College's Credit by Examination (CBE) enables students to use their acquired knowledge, abilities and competencies to challenge certain existing courses for credit." (Cuesta College 2017-2018 Catalog, 78). CBE facilitates a student's coursework by allowing them to take other major, or general education courses while at the same time meeting their Spanish general education requirements. For Spanish majors, this would help them complete core requirements sooner, and facilitate their transfer.
The Cuesta College Chapter of Latina Leadership Network, in its student advocacy role, is respectfully requesting the reinstatement of Spanish 201, 202, 203 and 204 to the List of
Approved Credit by Exam Courses for students who meet the minimum requirements as stated in Board Policy 6400 for fall 2018 and beyond.
The practice of allowing CBE for Spanish courses provides several benefits for students and the institution.
1. Shortens completion, and or transfer rates
2. Saves students the cost of books
3. Provides students with more time to spend with children, family and/or job
4. Cal Grant recipients have sufficient time after extensive remedial English course work
5. Students feel that Cuesta is supportive of their needs
6. Increased GPA's for transfer and/or scholarships
7. Provides students opportunity to devote study time to challenging major or GE courses
8. Saves time from sitting in a course they already master, but need, to help them earn a GPA reflective of their abilities
9. Non fluent Spanish learners can be retained or not made to feel intimidated by the fluent speakers, readers and writers of Spanish in their introduction classes
10. Provides Spanish, or Modern Language majors opportunity to progress quicker
11. Increased self-esteem as students demonstrate mastery in their subject
1. Increased revenue to the college. Students pay $230.00 per course in enrollment fees, and by including Spanish to the approved CBE list, students taking CBE are able to take more classes.
2. Retention of non-native speakers in first year Spanish courses who drop becaue they feel intimidated by fluent Spanish speakers who up the curve and keeping FTE's higher
3. Augments degree completion rates allowing students an opportunity to move efficiently through the system
4. Increased General Education full certification by meeting humanities and language requirements for the UC'S
5. Increases Cuesta's reputation for meeting Latinx student needs. Speaks to the fact that Cuesta is a growing Hispanic serving institution.
6. Cuesta's policies will align with the actions being taken to promote true equity
7. The potential to recapture lost revenue from students taking 12 units distance learning from other institutions. Most colleges require a student to accumulate 12 units from their institution prior to granting credit by exam.
With a 33 percent total Hispanic enrollment, Cuesta College is a Hispanic Serving Institution with many proficient in reading, writing and speaking Spanish. After various interviews with students, staff and faculty we hold that not offering CBE for those who are proficient is an injustice!
Cuesta college once allowed CBE for all Spanish classes and many students like Maria Espinoza, a recently recognized Alum, Estella Vasquez and Sonia Mendoza two Cuesta College staff members, and Dana Tejada, a former Cuesta College Enrollment Specialist, all benefited from CBE courses and progressed to earn their degrees. Unfortunately, the current generation of students are being denied this opportunity.
For many DACA students (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) the only financial aid they receive is a 4 year Cal Grant which is on a time clock. Students spend up to 2 years at a community college to prepare to transfer to a California public university. For these DACA recipients, not completing their entire academic goals within the required 4-year time frame can mean losing the opportunity to attend a university.
The language department at Cuesta College has been inconsistent with the Credit by Exam policy. Last year, leniency with this policy was geared away from Spanish in favor of the other two languages Cuesta teaches. From July 2016 - June 2017 the language department head allowed FR 203, GER 203 & GER 204 to sit on the approved CBE list. Yet, all Spanish courses were denied. This practice has implications of favoritism at its least and discrimination at its worst. Most recently, verbal requests were made to have Spanish courses placed on the approved CBE list by staff and students. These requests have been met with resistance and a message that the issue is closed. Ironically, starting fall 2018, all language courses have been removed from the approved CBE list, an action taken after our objection to Spanish being the only language left off the list.