ACE is back on the table

ACE+is+back+on+the+table

Ashling Doherty

LMC student tutor Mina Ebeid and Allan Sanchez work on a challenging math problem in the Math Lab Wednesday afternoon.

Sean Tongson

“ACE,” a nationally renowned and award-winning program designed to assist underprepared students better achieve their educational goals, is returning to Los Medanos College beginning this Fall.

ACE, or “Academy for College Excellence,” is a one-semester program that will team students up with three professors dedicated to helping students succeed. Described as a high-level accelerated intensive course designed to assist students develop their academic qualifications, ACE is open to any full-time student eligible for English 90.

“We’re going to have two sections,” said Math Professor and ACE Director Tue Rust. “One is a business administration ACE cohort, and the other is the ACE basic skills cohort which focuses on Math and English with a social justice theme.”

LMC Vice President Kevin Horan has been credited for his openness and support to bring ACE back.

“The ACE program has proven to have merit in serving students that otherwise would not be reached,” said Horan.

The ACE program, founded in 1999 by Diego Navarro as the ‘Digital Bridge Academy’ (DBA), has appeared in five states and is picking up a lot of momentum. Navarro has since toured the country to help expand ACE and lead the new movement into transformative education. The goal is to expand to assisting at least 3,000 students per year for the next five years. By the end of the summer, ACE will be training over 500 new professors and managers across the country in week-long Faculty Experiential Learning Institutes, doubling the current amount of ACE trained instructors.

“It is nationally renowned,” said Rust. “Our presentation at the last Strengthening Student Success conference was voted the best of the conference and given an entire thread for this year’s Strengthening Student Success Conference. Bill and Melinda Gates have also personally met with ACE director Diego Navarro to talk about how ACE transforms students.”

The numbers speak for themselves regarding the significance of the ACE program. A recent study out of Berkeley shows that 1,633% of students are more likely to complete transfer level math than non–ACE students.

“These numbers are so large that they’re mind boggling,” said Rust. “The numbers are unfathomable, even by the standards of math instructors. Some people are very excited, while some people almost laugh, because it calls into questions the way we do things here and how we teach. This class is vital for our country.”

One important reason as to the return of ACE is that it is being funded by college resources and not by grants. While the ACE program technically was never officially cancelled, part of the problem was that LMC management was forced to assess where ACE was and how it fit into the LMC schedule. This led to the cancellation of Math 27 this past spring.

“Our management team had to make some very tough decisions on what to support and what not to support,” said Rust. “We didn’t have enough time to make a solution, so we had to make some adjustments. So we dropped it in the spring, but knew we wanted to bring it back. We thought ‘let’s just wait, and come back really hard in the fall.”

The significance of the success of ACE can be highlighted by the acknowledgement by CSU Associate Dean Ken O’Donnell, who stated that the “challenge process” wasn’t an ideal solution to helping students succeed and applauded and encouraged the other community colleges to find a way to offer accelerated pre-stat courses. An example of this “challenge process” can be drawn from the fact that after Math 27 (“Path to Stats”) was removed from the schedule this past spring, students had to take Math 4, 12, 25, and 30 just to be able to qualify to take Statistics (Math 34). Now with the return of ACE, students can take Math 27 and be prepared for Statistics in just one semester.

“By the revival of this course, O’Donnell was basically saying, “Good work, keep it up, and we’ll see if we could help you even more,” added Rust.

Reportedly, students have enjoyed the ACE program and are thrilled about its return.

“I never thought I would have enjoyed it this much,” said one student. “It goes well above and beyond of what a cool learning experiencing is.”

In order for students to register for ACE, they must simply express register for the following sections; 0111 (ACS 110), 0115 (ACS 111), 0110 (ACS 112), 0304 (Math 27), and 7466 (English 90).

“When it is combined with ACE or something that it is relevant to the lives, it really helps,” said Rust. “We’re turning students on to higher education.”

More information can be found at losmedanos.edu/ace or by contacting Tue Rust at trust@losmedanos.edu. Further information can be found at ACE’s website atacademyforcollegeexcellence.org