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April 9, 2009


Peggy Cartwright
Director of Marketing and Public Relations

For Immediate Release


(Rancho Cucamonga, CA) In 2002, 17-19% of Chaffey College students were on some form of probation or dismissal. The college's faculty, staff and administrators began an experimental research study with the MDRC who together established the Opening Doors Program.

Just two years later, Chaffey College was awarded a $585,000 grant through MDRC to continue the program and research. College faculty, staff and administrators reviewed the program and developed a two-semester program for probationary students called Enhanced Opening Doors. Through the program, students on probation were required to take two guidance (known as a college success) courses taught by a counselor. These courses provide basic information on study skills and the requirements of the college.

Also included in the program is the requirement that students visit the college's success centers. Chaffey College has three centers specializing in math, writing, reading and a multi-disciplinary success center.

The newly created program called Enhanced Opening Doors was launched with 800 students. In order to measure the effectiveness of the program, coordinators placed half of the students in the program with the other half being in the control group.

MDRC announced the results of the study at the 89th Annual American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) in Phoenix this past weekend. The data showed that probationary students at Chaffey College nearly doubled the proportion of students who moved off probation. Also those who participated in the Opening Doors program increased the average number of credits earned and the proportion of students who earned a GPA of 2.0 or higher.

The new report Getting Back on Track: Effects of a Community College Program for Probationary Students offers the following findings from MDRC's random assignment study, which compared the students in the program with a control group that did not receive the intervention.
  • The Opening Doors to Excellence program, with its message of expected participation, improved students' academic outcomes. It increased the average number of credits earned by students over two semesters (8.3 credits for the program group versus 5.6 credits for the control group) and the proportion of students who earned a cumulative grade point average of 2.0 or higher (36.2 percent versus 23.6 percent).

  • The program nearly doubled the proportion of students who were able to move off probation over two semesters (30.4 percent vs. 15.9 percent).

The earlier one-semester version of the program was also evaluated as part of the study. It experienced problems with implementation, including low rates of participation by students. Not surprisingly, this early program did not create significant positive results, although it did prompt administrators to make changes that led to the much stronger, two-semester model.

"Chaffey College is committed to assisting students on probation develop the tools and access to the resources they need to overcome their difficulties and challenges," said Ricardo Diaz, opening doors coordinator. "The purpose of the Opening Doors program is help students achieve their goals and fulfill their dreams," said Diaz.

"Chaffey College embraces the fountain of "open-access" with a passionate commitment in helping students realize/achieve their dreams (i.e. degree/certificate)," said Lori Waite, dean, school of counseling and matriculation. "Chaffey College had the institutional savvy to recognize this issue and the Opening Doors project was conceived. The program is now institutionalized and offers intensive counseling, innovative curriculum, faculty and Success Center connections," she said. "Chaffey provides open-access to all students, and Opening Doors takes deliberate actions to retain students, keep them on track, and celebrate their success."

"I've been a student at Chaffey College for a few years and was put into the Opening Doors program due to my academic standing; the program helped me rethink parts of my life and refine my educational goals," commented Erika B Lynn. "I learned valuable study skills, problem solving, and how to accommodate to my learning style and how I think," she added. "I've currently achieved most of the goals I set for myself, finishing some classes and looking to transfer to the University of La Verne for possible degrees in Biology and Entomology and planning for my future job assisting the Coroner and Forensics," said Lynn.

"The Opening Doors Program has challenged me to do my best, and excel at a level I always knew I could, but never tried," stated Lauren Cocroft. "This program has encouraged me and given me the self confidence I need and want in my education," she said.

"It's particularly notable that Chaffey College's program almost doubled the proportion of students who moved off probation," concluded Sue Scrivener, lead author of the report. "These findings offer real hope for other colleges that are struggling to help students facing academic difficulties."

Headquartered in New York City, with a regional office in Oakland, CA, MDRC is a nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization with 35 years of experience designing and evaluating education and social policy initiatives.

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