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Academic Standards and Student Records Committee

Agenda of April 8, 2004

  1. Roll call
  2. Minutes of February 17, 2004
  3. Guests: Dr. Therese Gallegos (English Dept./Developmental Writing), Mr. Joel Garza (Interim Director of The Language Institute), Dr. Patrick McGehee (Director of Testing), Ms. Thelma Sullivan (International Student Counselor)
  4. Old Business: Placement procedures and programs for ESL/international students
  5. New Business: Placement procedures and programs for “native” ESL population
  6. Other New Business

Minutes of April 8, 2004

  1. The Academic Standards and Student Records Committee met on April 8, 2004 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. in N-206. Members present included Dr. Michelle Abrego, Ms. Kathleen Carter, Ms. Mari F. Chapa, Dr. Janna Arney, Dr. Elden Nelson, Dr. Ruth Ann Ragland, Ms. Laura Villarreal, Mr. Tom Welther (chair), and Mr. Steve Wilder. Dr. Therese Gallegos (English Department), Mr. Joel Garza (Director of The Language Institute), Dr. Patrick McGehee (Director of Testing), and Ms. Thelma Sullivan (International Student Counselor) attended the meeting as guests and informants.
  2. Upon reviewing the minutes of February 17, 2004, Dr. Nelson motioned to accept them as they were presented. Ms. Chappa seconded his motion, and the minutes were accepted.
  3. Dr. Gallegos informed the committee that there are basically two ESL populations on campus, of which only one is true ESL, namely, students who graduated from public or private schools in Matamoros, Mexico,  or abroad. The other population does not really consist of ESL speakers but of speakers who speak a pidginized version of English and have typically graduated from a BISD high school. While this group is fluent in English, the true ESL students are not fluent in their version of English; however, on paper, the writing of both groups looks deceptively similar. To help both groups best, Dr. Gallegos suggested that true ESL students be taught ESL in The Language Institute, whereas the students who have graduated from a BISD high school and speak pidgin English be enrolled in developmental courses to improve their English skills. Misplaced students should have the option of contesting their placement. Dr. Gallegos further suggested that anyone testing at 180 or below on the THEA be tested for ESL and be cleared if not ESL to avoid being enrolled in ESL classes. At this point the discussion shifted to how the developmental writing classes primarily taught by part-time instructors could be made more rigorous. Dr. Abrego, Dr. Arney, and Ms. Villarreal reported that part-time instructors are being mentored in their departments. Dr. Gallegos reported that she has mentored part-time instructors, too, and Dr. Abrego said that mentored part-time instructors who are BISD teachers probably also become better school teachers.
  4. Next, Dr. McGehee proceeded to explain that currently ESL students are advised to self-select to take the ETP (Michigan Test). Based on their scores, an advisor recommends the ESL level they should enroll in The Language Institute. However, if they don’t self-select for ESL and fail the THEA by scoring below 220, they are placed into a developmental class. Scoring 0 to 150 places them into English 0320. A score of 200 places them into English 0321 and  a 220 or better into English 1301. To help illustrate the placement process of ESL students, Dr. McGehee distributed a flow chart depicting this process. Studying the flow chart, Dr. Nelson inquired as to how international students are being admitted. Ms. Sullivan explained that they have to clear a list of blocks, including the THEA and the EPT, which, however, is not mandatory. They are then placed on the basis of their THEA scores, just like other students.
  5. Then, the discussion shifted to the current and future format of the courses housed in The Language Institute. Mr. Welther asked about the weekly number of contact hours provided by each ESL course, which is 4.5 hours, according to Mr. Garza. If students started with the first level of ESL, they would maximally need five semesters to complete all courses offered. Mr. Welther asked if it was possible to change the format of the courses to make the program more intensive and to shorten the time needed to progress through the program. Ms. Chappa pointed out that learning a foreign language requires at least 20 hours a week to be spent in class. She strongly advocated that the current program be considerably changed to help ESL students enter academic programs. Ms. Villarreal wanted to know whether ESL students in The Language Institute were tracked. Mr. Garza replied that they were not systematically tracked. Ms. Sullivan pointed out that students could theoretically skip levels.
  6. Towards the end of the meeting, Dr. Nelson recommended that the following people meet to help improve the current ESL program of the Language Institute: Mr. Cipriano Cárdenas, Chair of Modern Languages, Dr. Charles Dameron, Interim Dean of Liberal Arts, Mr. Joel Garza, Director of the Language Institute, Dr. Jim Holt, Dean of Workforce Training and Continuing Education, Mr. Terry Jay Phillips, Dean of Developmental and Continuing Education, and Mr. Welther of Modern Languages.
  7. At 3 p.m. sharp, Dr. Nelson motioned for the committee to adjourn. Ms Chappa seconded Dr. Nelson’s motion, and the committee adjourned.
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