Enhancing Bridge Programs to Increase College Access and Success
The Alliance for Excellent Education and MDRC Invite You to Attend a Webinar on
Enhancing Bridge Programs to Increase College Access and Success
Loren Blanchard, PhD, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, Xavier University of Louisiana
Amy Dalsimer, Executive Director of Pre-College Academic Programming, LaGuardia Community College/CUNY
Mariana Haynes, PhD, Senior Fellow, Alliance for Excellent Education
Vanessa Martin, Senior Associate, MDRC
Nearly 20 percent of high school freshmen do not graduate, and many of those who do graduate are underprepared for a labor market that increasingly prizes specialized training and college education. Promising bridge programs that help students access and persist into college provide important lessons on designing stronger pathways to postsecondary education. How do effective bridge programs prepare students, particularly underserved youth, for the rigor of a higher education?
In this webinar, Vanessa Martin will describe the positive findings from the MDRC evaluation of LaGuardia Community College’s Bridge to Health and Business Program. Amy Dalsimer, the program’s director, will describe its design, which tripled the number of LaGuardia bridge students enrolled in community college. Finally, Loren Blanchard will share important insights into Xavier University of Louisiana’s highly successful bridge programs, which educate high school minority students interested in pursuing STEM fields. In 2011, Xavier was the top producer of African American students who earned medical degrees. Mariana Haynes will moderate the discussion. Panelists will also address questions submitted by webinar viewers from across the country.
Support for this webinar comes from the MetLife Foundation.
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good afternoon. I’m mariana haynes. Thank you for joining the alliance and mdrc, a nonprofit, nonpartisan education and social policy research organization for today’s webinar on enhancing bridge programs to increase college access and success. We are fortunate today to be joined by a terrific panel of experts and will introduce them fully in a moment. But first, let me tell you a bit about the presentation. Today, we are highlighting successful bridge programs developed by laguardia community college and xavier university of l la. These exemplary programs provide important lessons on designing stronger pathways to post secondary education. Like most of our web casts, this is interactive affair and enjoy your participation. If you would like to ask questions of our webinar guests, do that with the form and we’ll turn to your questions from time to time throughout this webinar. We encourage you to tweet about the webinar using the hash tag or@mdrc news and then on the web cast page and brought up on the video screen from time to time. It’s also important for you to know that this program is made possible by the generous support of the met life foundation. So now let me share some background about today’s topic. Nearly 40 million adults lack a high schooldy loma or credentials such as the general educational development credential or ged. In many large cities, dropout rates for students of color and low income students stood at 50% and while high school credentials — opportunities, every year in the united states, nearly 60% and that is across both two and four-year college, entering students discover to take remedian courses in english and or mathematics before they earn college credits. So to understand what’s needed to close the high school and college readiness gap, this webinar showcases two very different bridge programs. Now, both are highly successful in boosting students’ academic skills and getting them read — for college.
The guests are uniquely positioned to comment on these programs and i want to introduce them to you. On my immediate left we have vanessa martin, a senior associate at mdrc with over ten years of experience in the policy research field. Vanessa directed a vigorous evaluation of the laguardia community college’s bridge to health program and sharing the find frgs the rigorous study which is one of the few to focus specifically on curriculum and program design along with efforts to forge a stronger link to college and career training and next to vanessa is amy dalsimer at laguardia community college, part of the city university of new york. Amy manages a variety of adult literacy, work force development and initiatives serving thousands of young adults and out of school youth each year. She’s going to describe the rationale and the design of this nationally recognized ged bridge to career and college pathways project. And finally, dr. Loren blanchard. He is joining us remotely from new orleans, senior vice president for academic affairs at xavier university of louisiana and served in a number of louisiana institutions of higher education to reach their goals. Loren will share important insights into xavier’s highly successful bridge to college programs which have earned national acclaim for producing exemplary results for minority students pursuing s.t.e.m. fields. Thanks to everyone for joining us today. It might be helpful to share a few details before we get into the panel. These two transition programs serve low income students and students of color in their surrounding environs. Both laguardia and xavier in new orleans responded to similar challenges. They created bridge programs that share common elements and exceptional in the design and impact. Those developing the programs began by asking critical questions about student outcomes, such as, were students completing a rigorous program of study for credential? What does rigorous mean? For young adults earning a diploma or a credential and enrolling in college and succeeding in coursework? Both programs made similar decisions over time. So, for example, both use a career pathway approach that provides students with an instructional context. Both programs provide rigorous coursework and instruction to engage students in building deep conceptual knowledge and analytical skills across subject areas. They focus on developing cognitive strategies but also they develop students’ general academic habits such as time management or setting goals or how to direct their own learning and both programs offer enhanced adult and peer support with intensive advisement. With that groundwork, it is high time to turn to the panelists.
Let’s begin. We’re going to start with la guard why’s community college’s bridge program. States and districts working to improve college readiness so, va necessary that and amy, can you provide the context for the creation of this program, why was it developed and what were some of the specific elements that were considered in its design?
sure. Yes. So we’re telling the story mariana mentioned today of the very successful ged program, bridge program that doubled ged pass rates and population in particular, disconnected young adults, demands a lot of attention. This is, you know, this was a second chance kind of program. And these are people who have been disconnected from work and school and, therefore, you know, really demand a lot of focus and attention in terms of, you know, thinking about how — what kind of programs work for them and public policy arena. The reality is that in today’s labor market, you need some college or training to earn a living wage. However, we know that many people face a multiple barriers to college access and success. So a lot of these disconnected young adults, as mariana mentioned earlier, 40 million adults that lack a ged or high school die plo ma, that’s 21% of american adults barring most of them from college entry. Few students in adult education achieve the ged. So many of them attempt to get the ged but, you know, very few achieve that high school credential. Even those that do have a credential appear at college unprepared to succeed. 12% of ged complete one year of college and 3% go on to earn an associate’s degree. So, what can we do about this? So we realize now that there is, you know, potential hope for these students, that’s something to help them. And the bridge programs can really help prepare students for college and training. Mariana went through the key elements between the two programs we’ll be talking about today. I’ll kind of highlight them quickly for you but the key design elements are college prep curriculum, the support for college entry, a critical cart of it. The transition into college is oftentimes difficult. There is a direct connection to postsecondary education, particularly with the laguardia program that amy will discuss in a minute, housed and operated as a college community and important element to student success and making that connection. There’s career preparation. So students — you know, real world sense of how these programs could potentially help them later on to get a job. And this aspect of there’s management enrollment and participation support and students come in as a cohort and they have support to succeed in the program. So, without further ado, i’ll pass it off to my colleague to speak much more about this program design and implementation.
thanks, vanessa. Thanks to mariana and for having us today. It is part of the city of new york. We are in western queens, incredibly diverse u.s. district. Many of the students are very low income. And the population that the bridge model is really focused on is the 20% of residents around our surrounding communities around the college who are over 19 and do not have a high school diploma. And it is really important for us to focus on the group because without the high school diploma, really, you know, in a labor market, especially in new york city, that’s increasingly requires postsecondary experience and postsecondary training and college credentials to get a good job in the workforce. That population needs to be brought back to school and they need to be given the chance to move forward into postsecondary and on to a career. So, laguardia has always served the second chance community, those are disconnected youth and adults without the high school diploma. Laguardia had, you know, anywhere between 3,000 and 4,000 students on the campus looking to earn the diploma. But back in 2006 we took a pretty close look at our data. We started to ask ourselves, you know, how’s this community doing? How’s the community of high school equivalency students doing? Are they retained, staying in classes, earning that high school diploma? And a new question we started to ask ourselves, are they going on to college or postsecondary? For a listening time, we measured our success just by, you know, are they coming to class and are they earning the diploma? But as the economy started shifting, we began to understand that really our new objectives and our new goals were to have them move forward into postsecondary. And what we found really was that we weren’t doing as great a job as we had hoped and that the students were kind of dropping out and stopping out at all of those points for a variety of reasons which we’ll talk more about today i think but we decided at that point in 2006 that we needed a program redesign. And so, we built the ged bridge to college model which we’re talking about today and which mdrc then studied. And really, our design goals, we have four basic design goals for the bridge. Which i want to mention because i think in terms of serving this community, it means looking at — looking at a number of data points and benchmarks for the students we may not have historically looked at. So the first is our bridge design is an access model. So when we wanted to build our on-ramp to college and our high school to college model, we wanted to make sure that we could still admit as many low level adult and youth students as possible, students who have, you know, fundamental barriers, literacy barriers, students who are at the lower ends of reading and writing. And so, our models and access model’s 50% of the student that is come to us saying they need to earn the high school diploma read below the ninth grade level so the bridge model is to admit students at the seventh grade and above and that’s important that we maintain open access for those students. We started to look deeply at engagement and assistance and say, you know, we recognize there was sort of a stopping out and a churn happening where students were saying, i need to earn a diploma. They were signing up but not persisting in the classes so how do improve engagement and student persistence became important to us and are they earning that credential, the diploma? And then finally, are they transitioning successfully into college and postsecondary? And in order to sort of frame that redesign and meet those objectives, we decided to take an aspirational model. We decided to take an aspirational approach to the model and built a sector focused approach. We offer three tracks to the bridge to health care, a bridge to business careers and a bridge to science. And the hallmark of those tracks is that in each curriculum is con tekt julyized and career spectra focused and students learn in that sector and building in the pre-college phase some of the foundational knowledge and kind of professional ways of thinking and knowing they need as they move forward. Those tracks also mirror the way that higher ed is organized so it’s important for students in the pre-college phase to say, oh, you know, i’m interested in health and then getting the college side to realize that they have to enter a health care major and develop a discipline and ultimately a professional identity. Finally, you know, health and business and science and increasingly big opportunities in new york city. They’re big employment sectors and so we want to set our students up for jobs and on a career track with local opportunity. So just to give you a little sense of who the program, who’s in the program, and what the program looks like, bridge students as you can see from the slide in front of you are very diverse students. Predominantly black and hispanic youth. We have a majority of females. Our average age in the program is 26. And we have about more than half of our population on public assistance and about 38% of those folks could be employed but are oftentimes very tenuously connected to the world of work. And as you can see, i think it’s about close to half of our population enters the program reading at the seventh and eighth grade level and it’s as i said it is an access model. We’re trying to reach to — into the community of adults and youth that need an on-ramp and high school to college completion model. The mod sell a managed enrollment model so oftentimes the programs designed as open entry, open access to come in and work independently. And we very explicitly decided to build and manage enrollment so students study over a semester. And we find that, you know, that’s very important for their retention and mirrors the way a college semester works and in the design of the bridge is a lot of intentional design around saying, what is the pre-college program and the high school completion program? How does it mirror if and when the students get to college and how are we designing a program that helps smooth the pathway. We have a three-step admissions process so while we’ll admit students reading at the seventh and eighth grade levels, we ask them to participate in a thorough admissions process to build persistence and the beginning of that conversation about goal setting and setting and building our college going culture and sort of an aspirational conversation with them. And, you know, the real hallmark of our program is this career focus contextualized curriculum. Those are the questions we get asked which is, what are the career focused curriculum look like? How are you preparing people for the equivalency diploma and ready for college and careers all at the same time. So, contextualized curriculum is a sector approached focus to getting students high school equivalency, basic skills preparation and preparation for college that uses an authentic materials from a career sector to build their basic skills, basic skills in reading and writing and math. So, the contextualized curriculum is beyond test prep. It helps students develop sort of both key knowledge in the disciplines and begin to sort of understand what it means to think in the discipline. And in that career sector, key topics. It helps them to work toward sort of more, sort of more rigorous interdisciplinary learning of units of instruction to be exposed to text that is are increasingly complex. We focus on informational text and the use of evidence to support claims in their reading so the development of real academic reading and writing and math and within the context of the disciplines. All of the tracks start with a 12-hour unit on college and career exploration. And then, for students in the health care track, they would be exploring units such as nutrition, patient care, epidemics, and for the students in business, many of whom are interested in being entrepreneurs or being small business owners, we have a unit on entrepreneurship. Again, the emphasis is using robust curriculum. It helps students increase both their knowledge of the profession and also knowledge they’ll need once they get into college. In addition to the comprehensive curriculum, students receive a lot of transition support and this is a key aspect of the model. Most of — all of our students, in fact, are first generation to college. So they don’t have the same supports at home that someone whose parents have gone to college and are familiar with college can provide so the program is really designed to provide comprehensive counseling, not just career counseling, but also, assistance with admissions, financial aid. We do this both in groups and one on one and we ask our alumni and professionals to come into the class to sort of talk about their successes or what’s worked and moving on through college and becoming a professional in that area. And, you know, the main designs i would say around the bridge model are that we have full-time teachers, very important to have professionally highly skilled, highly trained — about effective learning. Developing students. We have a full-time transition adviser. That’s very important. We build a lot of strong partnerships with folks in the community and in the — people we need to help us do this transition work. Again, our financial office, admission office, the faculty in all of the disciplines so that they have input both into the curriculum design at the pre-college phase, but also, are able to understand the student population that’s moving from the pre-college programming into the major. And we’ve learned a lot by partnering with mdrc. Having mdrc come in and study the program has been wonderful and i want to turn it back over to vanessa to share the results of our random assignment research.
okay. Thank you, amy. So a little bit of background as to why mdrc got involved in this evaluation. We started working together way back in 2010. Kind of embarked on this adventure, if you will. Right? And because we had studied many programs where students would get the ged but or the high school credential, but then, kind of it would be terminal degree. Right? We really wanted to try to focus on making that transition because while we know the high school credential or ged is very important to have, it’s a means to an end. And it’s not the end in and of itself and we wanted to find something to help bolster the transition. So we started these conversations with laguardia because we had heard, you know, great things about their program, very strong, kind of rigorous, intensive and yet short term and manageable for students working and have other come petting demands in their life and they were, you know, willing to go on this journey with us and take a chance to do the evaluation so we’re very fortunate to start working with them back then. So the study itself uses a random assignment, research design to evaluate the facts of the student achievement and how that works is students, there’s, you know, pretty intense application and enrollment process. Once students are deemed qualified and eligible and interested in paptding in the program, they’re then randomly selected, kind of like tossing a coin, to either receive the bridge program or to receive in this case the more traditional ged prep program. And the program that we — where the students who were randomly assigned into that group, they received a program that laguardia modeled, created, modeled after one of their tuition-based programs. So, it was this really clear distinction between this more enhanced, intense ged bridge program versus more traditional ged prep program and i’ll explain about the differences in the two programs in a second. We’re studying the implementation and impacts of the ged bridge program and not just the affects of the program but also very interested in understanding how the program operated and studying it in context and understanding how much effort goes into implementing a program such as this. And we received generous funding both from the evaluation and the program from the robin hood foundation and the metlife foundation. So as i mentioned to talk a little bit about what the ged bridge program is being compared to, you should be seeing a slide now showing ged prep versus ged bridge. Again, these are the two research groups we were studying. So the core kind of elements we were looking at, right, in the domains were the differences in the curriculum, the differences in the class time, and the differences in the transitional counseling. So, the ged prep curriculum much more your kind of ged preparation. They taught using ged textbooks, standard practice tests. The big difference, again, with the bridge which is really the crux of the model as amy talked about is this curriculum that used authentic materials, original lesson plans. The class time is also a big difference. In ged prep, 60 hours over 9 weeks versus 108 hours over 12 weeks in ged bridge and a lot of that extra time was to get through this more intense kind of deliberate material that they created in the bridge program. And the transitional counseling, there was — for those in the ged prep group, for those students, there was really none beyond general college resources. The students who — the professors and instructors who taught these classes were mostly adjunct professors that didn’t have much of a connection to the college and weren’t in a position for guidance and counseling to these students. Whereas in the bridge class it was — there was both in class and out of class individualized counseling and deliberate focus on working with the students from the very beginning, as soon as they started the program on making sure that this expectation that they would be making the transition into college. Or training.
So i’m going to talk about the findings, implementation findings and impact findings. We spent a lot of time on campus working again very closely with laguardia to understand the model, did observations of the classes, spoke to many students, spoke to program staff and what we learned was that the ged bridge program has a well-designed curriculum and strong instruction and student support and all the things promised to do it did and it really implemented it well and it really i think where it starts was from the strong and coordinated leadership and instruction. And there was leadership, very strong, from the president on down and this very intentional design to create instruction that was, you know, geared around helping students move into college and a career. There was strong adherence to the program goals and curriculum and assignments. Assignments were always — future oriented with a focus on business and health. I should state that during the time of the evaluation, it was just the ged bridge to health and the bridge to business classes that were running so those were the two we studied at the time. There was a big emphasis on student retention and engagement. A reason for why the transitional counselor worked so closely with the students because there was such a, you know, strong emphasis on engaging the students and we see this again in the impact that is a lot of the key to the model is keeping the students engaged and helping them, you know, stay on course and make the transition. And students came from a wide variety of backgrounds. We found this experience, prior ged classes. And we heard from a lot of students that this program was markedly different than what they had experienced in the past. Not only in terms of the instructor and the quality of the instructor, but really, in how well the curriculum was designed and how much they felt engaged in the process and really enjoyed the class. So again, ged bridge students are more engaged, a greater sense of direction than those in ged prep, again, talking to both students in both of these classes. We really saw a big difference in how much engagement and how much direction and really the sense that they would move beyond the ged was felt. They reported experience was, again, personal attention from teachers and staff. They better understood financial aid prereck sits and career and college options. Again, many of whom, like amy mentioned, you know, didn’t have any kind of guidance from parents or peers because, you know, many of them were the first ones in their family going to college. So the fact that they would receive this kind of attention and information was very beneficial. They had more confidence. Those in the ged bridge program had more confidence about taking and passing the ged. Than those in the ged prep class. And there was, again, a very deliberate intention to enroll in postsecondary education. Many students came in thinking this is a great opportunity to get the ged. But again, the expectation was set from the beginning and i think as the course went on and the program went on, they realized there is actually something more for me. I can go beyond the ged an achieve much more in college and a career. So, you know, the whole story is very exciting but what we found was so very encouraging. We saw higher ged pass rates and postsecondary enrollment for those in ged bridge so the slide that should be seeing now compared the ged bridge group to a ged prep so there’s on four key measures we looked at. Completed the ged class. Passed the ged exam. Enrolled in cuny and retained for a second semester, meaning they enrolled in a second semester. In the completion, we saw about a 30 percentage point difference in those that completed the class and again it speaks to the high level of engagement of these students and the great preparation that they had to complete the course. We saw 70% completion for ged bridge and about a 40% completion for those in the ged prep group. For those who passed the exam, we have about a 50% completion for ged bridge and about, you know, little over 20% completion pass rate for the ged exam. Again, a huge, huge difference. All of these findings i should also say are statistically significant, meaning they — we can say with a lot of confidence they didn’t happen by chance. It is a true result of the program. And then we also saw a very large difference in enrollment into cuny. This is across all of the city university of new york community college and not just laguardia and most of the student wills enroll at laguardia but a measure of enrollment in all of the city of new york community colleges. Almost 20% enrolled in college versus less than 10% in the ged prep group enrolling into college and then in terms of retention into the second semester, so those in ged bridge were about a 10% enroll — 10% enrolled into college whereas in the ged prep group it was little over, you know, somewhere between 0 and 5% so big difference there in terms of retention into the second semester. So, you know, really showing that there is these students are on a trajectory, on a path to, you know, completing the — their college and hopefully getting the associate’s degree or, you know, a credential at the end.
And so, what’s next? We — these findings clearly indicate that there are more ways to make the ged exam more relevant and better conduit into college. It doesn’t have to be a terminal degree. Laguardia’s program is unique but we know that other colleges and institutions can adopt this approach and create a program to meet their students and local labor markets and institutions. But there is potential to do this elsewhere. Mdrc is now in the process of further rigorous testing of similar con tektualized ged transition models. We know laguardia was strong and we really think that this is a promising model and we want to see other approaches, similar approaches work elsewhere to really help this particular population. And we also have a policy brief in a video available on our website for those who are interested.
thank you. Thank you very much, vanessa and amy. We can link those to the web page for the archive video. We can provide the materials to find those, as well as the powerpoint presentation. I just want to commend them, the mdrc. We follow your work a great deal, helps the alliance a great deal in the work we focus on, but this marriage of between the research and those that are designing programs can really — have had — contributed greatly to the field in terms of providing specific information, not only as you said in terms of impact but those specific design elements and it lends itself to replication and for other folks to take advantage of this high quality research because it’s a random control experiment. Right? And that there’s a lot to be learned, so maybe later on, want to bring in dr. Blanchard, but we can talk a little bit about what some of those lessons learned from participating with mdrc. That’s valuable, as well. So dr. Blanchard, are you there?
i am here.
you have been waiting so patiently and so grateful that you have taken time from your academic schedule to be with us today. So, here’s another university with exceptional mission and leadership that has really produced an exemplary program. And so, can you walk us through that? Can i call you loren?
you certainly can do that. A special hello to you, mariana, amy, vanessa and webinar view earls from new orleans, louisiana. I certainly would like to take the opportunity to thank you, the alliance and mdrc for allowing me this opportunity to share the story of xavier university of louisiana relative to the success of our bridge program. Just to give you a brief context for xavier university of louisiana, we are a historically black university. Our origins are rooted in the catholic tradition, as well. In fact, we are the only historically black and catholic university in the united states. While we are a liberal arts university, our claim to fame has been the fact that 60% of the students african-americans in predominantly so, they major in either science, technology, engineering or mathematics here at xavier. The s.t.e.m. disciplines. What we have been noticing as a historically black university, really two things. Number one, over the years we have been noticing that there’s been a declining number of african-american students that are entering college and we are also — we’ve also been noticing that there’s a growing number of african-american students who have been under prepared to effectively negotiate a college curriculum. We have noticed particular underperformance in the areas of mathematics, science and reading. When i talk about the decline of african-american students entering college, here’s what we see nationally. That for every 100 ninth graders in the nation, what we know today is that of those 100, 78 of those students will actually graduate from high school. And of those 78 high school graduates, we know that 49 of those students will enroll in college within the next year. And of those 49 enrolled in college, 38 will actually be retained as sophomore college students. Of those 38, we know that 27 will actually earn a college degree within a six-year period and of those 27 students who will earn that degree, only 3 will be african-american. In addition — while there has been mild fluctuations in these datas, in these data, these statistics have largely been trending for the past 20 years or so. So, we have at xavier have been asking ourselves the question, for nearly two decades now, and have learned quite a bit in terms of continuing to ask these questions, but it all centers on why so few african-american students are enrolling and completing college. And a lot of it ties into the statement that i made earlier as it relates to the under preparation of students to really negotiate a college curriculum, but also, particularly as we look at the areas of math, science and reading. So, what we have learned is that we have seen an alarming amount of data that shows that students in particular really are not coming in ready for college. We see here that only 74% in 2013, only 74% of the students who took the a.c.t. test actually completed a minimum core high school curriculum consisting of four years of english and three years of math, social studies and science. These are obviously core or curriculum that’s necessary for college entry. And of that total 74%, we know that only 69% of african-americans have completed that core curriculum which would allow them to enter college. In addition to that, we know that a.c.t. the american college testing association, has worked with the common core standards to establish student performance standards and using these standards a.c.t. identified benchmark scores that indicate college readiness. For example, the a.c.t. college readiness benchmarks are the minimum scores required on the a.c.t. subject test for high school students to have approximately a 75% chance of earning a grade of at least the “c” or better, 50% chance of earning a grade of “b” or better in the credit baring introductory college course so we know that we have these benchmark scores that have been established for all of the areas but in the area of english you have to get at least a 18. In mathematics, at least a 22. Reading, a 22. And science, a 23. To show evidence that you really are ready to handle introductory college courses. Here’s what we’ve seen for african-american students. We know that african-american students that 34% have met the benchmark in english. Only 16% have met that benchmark in reading. 14% in mathematics. 7% in science. And 5% meet all of the four benchmarks. That speaks very clearly to the level of under preparation that we have seen certainly at xavier but we’re talking nationally in terms of the da that that we’re presenting here. So if you flip that script an you look at what i’m trying to underscore here as it relates to under preparation, particularly of african-american students, this slide shows that the percent of students that took the a.c.t. in 2013, the students who did not reach the mathematics benchmark of at least a 22. Note that almost half of the white students and less than 30% of the asian students did not score at least a 22 in math. But 73% of hispanic students and alarming 86% of african-american students did not reach that benchmark score in mathematics. We see similar results in science where here again the benchmark score is a 23. That would be needed. And you see here that it’s a concern for all groups with 64% of the students overall not reaching this benchmark. The low percentage of students in this area particularly alarming knowing how important it is for our students to have an understanding of science for the global competition, but also, in order for them to effectively navigate a college curriculum. And then the area of reading. Most people say why would we want to concentrate on reading, especially at the college level? Isn’t it just a given that these students will have the amount of skill level in basic literacy in order to handle a college curriculum? The answer to that question is, no. But more importantly it’s the ability to analytically read to handle a college textbook and we notice more and more students are really not prepared in such a way where they’re able, especially in the sciences, to handle the literacy component relative to the kind of analytical skill that is are required. This slide as it relates the number of students not meeting that benchmark is where you see 40% of white and asian students did not score at least a 22 or reading but — in reading, but two thirds of hispanic students and 84% of african-american students did not receive the benchmark score in order for them to show evidence that they’re ready to handle introductory courses that require a certain level of reading proficiency. You know, all of this is quite sobering when you look at the data, but also, when you look even further into it, in terms of the percent of students that are meeting the benchmark and the kind of coursework they’re faking to prepare them to not only hand tell introductory courses but any other succeeding courses in college. And so, what you see here is probably embraced somewhat of a no-brainer which it means is that the more mathematics you take in high school, the better prepared you are to handle mathematics in college. But as you see here, there’s the more that you’ve got — what is it? 53% of the students that did meet the benchmark, 53% took 4 or more years of mathematics, 34% took 3 to 5 years of mathematics and you see the correlation as it’s a downward spiral there but just showing evidence that the more students are able to effectively take courses in mathematics in high school the better prepared they are in order to handle a college level mathematics course sequence. The same holds true in the area of science. As you see here, with 46% of the students being required who did pass the proficiency test that in a.c.t. proficiency test. 46% did complete biology, physics and then you see for the rest of the information shows there in terms of underscoring, again, the more science courses you take in high school, the better prepared you are in order to handle a science curriculum. So, in terms of the under preparation, it’s as i said particularly for african-american students, it’s the fact that they’re not reaching the score, they’re not being prepared effectively in math, science and reading. Many of them are not taking the number of courses that they need in order to really prepare them to not only take introductory courses, but to persevere and to complete courses, succeeding courses, in those areas, but in addition to that, we continue to — when we look at high schools, we continue to see a preparation gap. Minority preparation gap as it relates to math and sciences. The 2012 science and engineering indicators here show that the preparation gap of minority students in math and science continues to remain consistent across the years with about 30% fewer black students showing mathematics and science proficiency in fourth grade, eighth grade and 12th grade relative to their white counterparts. The proficiency gap even widens when you look at it in terms of gender for especially in high school and mathematics and in middle school science where you’ve got black female students who are clearly under performing when you compare them to white students and students of other racial groups. What we have also recognized is that teacher experience in preparation k-12, namely middle and high school teacher preparation and experience, also differs across schools with high minority populations and high poverty populations of students. We have seen that 92% of mathematics teachers and 93% of science teachers are certified in low minority schools where 84% of mathematics teachers and 83% of science teachers in high minority schools that are certified in their areas of study or areas where they’re teaching. We have also noticed that 89% of low poverty school science teachers are certified. And 81% of high poverty science teachers are certified. And then, also, that, you know, science — with respect to science, science and mathematics, science and mathematics teachers with three or fewer years of experience were more prevalent at high minority and high poverty schools so when you start blending all of this together, it begins telling a story that we have been concentrating on very, very carefully at xavier. Believe it or not, probably for the past 20 years now to try to get an understanding of what we need to do not only to try to turn this situation around, for local and regional middle and high schools, but more importantly, to try to ensure a stronger number of students, african-american in particular, who are actually being prepared in such a way where they can not only get entry into colleges and universities, especially xavier, but also, to ensure that they’re able to persevere and to complete a college curriculum and in our case because we have so many students that are majoring in the s.t.e.m. disciplines to make sure we prepare them for professional or graduate schools and the workforce in those areas. So, here’s some of the things that when you look across all those — the dismal statistics i’ve shown you thus far, here’s what we have drawn out of that that really becomes important that we have been sharing with others, as well, as they’re developing their bridge programs or their pipeline programs in order to make sure that students really are optimally ready for college. The first thing that we have noticed is that there is a strong relationship between science and reading and that for african-american middle and high school students, we had to develop a means of shaping or have to develop a means of stronger sense of scientific literacy to get them really ready for college and talking about scientific literacy, if we have to break that down to give a good sense of understanding of what that means, it really is preparing middle and high school students with the ability to read and understand articles about science, evaluation — evaluated evidence-based arguments and being able to draw conclusions, as well as to specifically be able to identify scientific issues and express scientifically informed positions. Those are three elements of scientific literacy that we believe to be really important in mastering at the k-12 level, namely middle and high school, in order for those students to be ready to handle that kind of exercise and that kind of skill once they reach our college doors. In addition to that, in addition to scientific literacy, we also recognize the importance of analytical reasoning in strengthening proficiencies in math and sciences, specifically the abilities to engage in analytical reading, engage in critical thinking, understand mathematics and to communicate effectively. That these are optimal skills that students really need in order for them to be able to enter into college, but also, to complete a college degree program, particularly in an s.t.e.m. discipline. Here’s what we have also noticed. That there really has been a need for higher education institutions to develop pipeline programs for students interested in s.t.e.m. disciplines. Really, it is along the concept of growing your student population, meaning that you partner with k-12 schools and then our instance it’s namely high schools where not only do we feel like we work in tandem with those high schools, local feeder schools in particular, to identify the students that can come in and spend their summers here with us, every summer, starting from eighth grade all the way up until they enter our college doors here at xavier or someone else’s college doors, and we are really shoring them up in their mathematical, scientific and reading capabilities so that they really can master a college curriculum by the time they enter our doors. In addition to that, we also recognize that there really is an important — it’s important for higher education institutions to provide academic support systems for student success and this begins with those bridge programs, those pre-college programs and then with — would have to continue and monitor and track the performance of those students who have participated in those bridge programs, once they actually reach our college doors. So as a result of that, xavier for the past 20 years, we have been implementing a bridge program or pre-college program that we called the summer science academy. And every year, well, let’s just say pre-katrina, before hurricane katrina, we were able to command probably anywhere between 1,000 to 1,500 middle and high school students who would be spending their time here with us during the summer, that has changed dramatically since katrina, obviously. We don’t have as many people living in new orleans, greater new orleans region since hurricane katrina. So now, we’re commanding about between 600 and 750 middle and high school students who are here to participate in a series of summer programs. And so, we start with math star which is a rising eighth grade program and that math star introduces students to concepts for students who will be in enrolled in algebra and then that group once they finish up that summer, they go back, they take algebra. We work with their algebra teachers, as well as the fact to monitor their performance in mathematics to make sure that we’re providing them ongoing support through tutorial services at their respective schools or here at xavier. And then we’re also — we start focusing in on our next summer program which is bio star which is a hands on introductory approach to topics covered in a high school biology course where we provide them with active laboratory exercises and really for rising ninth graders and get those students ready for biology and then that next summer focusing on chemistry and then for the final year and that’s getting them ready now for their senior year, it is just an overall stress on analytical reasoning which is the soar program. But it’s all very sequentially and developmentally implemented in such a way where we are focusing in on those two main areas i mentioned earlier, scientific literacy and analytical reasoning. That’s embedded across each of the summer programs in order to get them ready for entry into xavier, namely. But really, into any college or university. Again, it’s the concept of growing your own. You’re growing your students and putting them through your doors here at xavier. But i have to admit to you that, you know, while we want to get every one of those students into xavier’s doors, that does not always happen. Largely because of affordability issues. We are a private university. But more importantly, we feel really responsible for shaping these students for any college or university. And what we have seen is that we get many notes of gratitude from other universities saying, thanks so much for all the work that you have done to get these students ready to enter our universities and how proud they are that these students are able to handle their respective college curricula and doesn’t stop there in terms of those basic programs. We have got a number of other programs that we offer during the summer such as the bio medical scholars program. That one designed for those students that now you’ve completed the sequence of high school programs, this one now is the one right before you enter xavier’s college doors where you take college credit course in biology and chemistry. You’re surrounded be enough academic support to last for a lifetime to ensure your success that summer. Which then gives you six hours that you have already completed before you even enter the doors during the fall semester. And then those students become when’s known as the s.t.e.m. scholars where on the next slide you will see where those students really are given a lot of support through our freshman seminar sequence with faculty that track the students and continue to monitor their academic performance, as well as their overall transition into a four-year university. We also have what’s known as a student success acam my and that’s really designed for fresh men where we prescribe for them exactly the kind of academic support that they have to engage in. What do i mean by that? It means that based on your a.c.t. score and based on your high school gpa and based on all the things that we have learned about you for the past four or five years since you have been enrolled in our pre-college programs, here’s the amount of hours to spend at the math tutorial lab, here’s the amount of hours to spend at the science tutorial lab and we can go on and on with writing, we also make sure that they spend a number of hours in the counseling center to make sure they’re able to handle transitional issues, but overall it’s what we call a desk side manner. You know, how doctors have a bedside manner. We believe whole heartedly in having a desk side man we are the students to give them the individualized care that they need to make sure that they really are getting what they need in order to persevere through xavier’s curriculum and then as i said to place them into graduate or professional school and or into the workforce. And so, with that, in addition to all of that support that i’ve just described, once they enter the freshman year, that continues throughout their four years here with us. We have heavy advising that we provide. The beautiful aspect i’m most proud about that we do is for the s.t.e.m. majors, each of them are engaged in an undergraduate research experience with a faculty member to engage them in research opportunities, many of the students before they even graduate from xavier have published articles along with their faculty peers that in addition to that and published in really good journals and research specific journals, but they also make presentations at conferences to get their feetd as wet as they possibly can in the field of study before they actually leave us here at xavier. We also engage them quite a bit in international programming as i just mentioned a few minutes ago where they’re able to conduct their research in the summers in a different country to understand the implications of the kind of research that they’re doing in an international setting as opposed to just looking at what happens within the united states. And then we also have what’s known as a grad star program that starts with them in the sophomore year getting them ready for professional and or graduate school where we take them to those universities. We fly them there to the universities that they think that they have an interest in enrolling for graduate or professional school. We make sure that they are involved in summer research at those schools and more importantly we help them through the application process to get them enrolled. So, coupled with that, the next slide really shows the kind of framework that we believe that’s so important, not just about the academic support but it really is making sure that we have the kind of environment here at xavier that gives them support as it relates to the financial resources that they need in order to be effective. Obviously, with the curriculum and instruction, make sure we have the right facilities, academic services and we call it like a wheel. A student retention wheel and that that wheel has to be operating very proficiently and each one of those areas for students really to be able to get a rich and meaningful college degree experience here at xavier in order to prepare them for what’s next. So, what is next? All those things that you just heard me describe has culminated in the ability for xavier to do some touting. And here’s what we tout and we know. We have number one for at least 20 years now or longer in the nation in the placement of african-american students into medical school. We also have number one in the nation for the number of african-american students who complete medical school. In addition to that, and i can cite where we’re getting all this information from, this is information we’re not making up. This is information that comes from the national science foundation. We’ve also been ranked number one in the nation in the number of african-american students earning undergraduate degrees in biology, chemistry, physics and the physical sciences. We’re third in the nation in producing african-americans who are earning a pharma d degree and ties into as i noted earlier about undergraduate research and the engagement of students in undergraduate research. We have just high quality faculty researchers here at xavier. As you see the amount of funding that we are getting, both from hhs as well as the national science foundation in support of the kind of critical work that we’re doing in health related areas which then allows those students to be ready to go out into if world and not only make xavier proud but also to field the national gap we now see relative to the number of minorities who are actually not only engaging s.t.e.m. disciplines but moving into s.t.e.m. and health related fields. I’ll stop at that point.
thank you so much, loren. This is powerful information and coupled with the success that mdrc documented for the laguardia program about what’s possible for students that are so traditionally underserved in k-12 education and through a lot of other kinds of programs. We don’t have a whole lot of time and what i would like to really do is to get to some of the things that we know are absolutely essential for whether it’s k-12 or it’s higher education to begin to respond to these challenges. One of the things that was very clear, xavier you talk about being at this for 20 years. Laguardia started about eight years ago and you responded to this gap. Long before the issue really has captured national attention. And you did so through this lens of data. And i think one would be helpful is, vanessa, if you could weigh in, you’re a statistician and what are some sort of the absolute essentials in terms of data to be collecting in order to both get this understanding of the college and preparation gap, as well as what loren was talking about in terms of identifying where the individual student is, what are some of the predictive indicators to allow us to shape differentiated programs for students to get them to where they need to be? I mean, you want to — amy or vanessa?
i’d be happy to.
i think loren talked about that funnel, you know, he presented the funnel on how many students, you know, major in, you know, and go on to college, how many graduate from college, how many, you know, pass and earn their college degree and i think the data for us at laguardia on the funnel that started pre-college, how many of our students are in need, who are either out of disconnected and haven’t earned the high school diploma or haven’t come back to college, if you have a college-going model for all and a college access model for all and then looking at are hay staying? Are they being retained in the classes? If they’re not there, they won’t graduate. Are they earning in the instance of the bridge program, first earning a high school credential because they need it to go to the city university of new york and earn a college degree and then, again, the data points from the study, are they retained in the first semester and big picture data points and i don’t think before 2006 we had.
and just having those helps us understand maybe what we need to do more of and how to measure that. So those are sort of big ones. I think, you know, also looking at what students can look at — looking at both academic skills and the types of literacy skills they have, loren talked a lot about are they able to read in sciences? Do they have the ability to write an academic paper citing research? Do they have the ability to build an argument, you know, bringing in multiple sources? Those are all, like, key points you want to look at in terms of what individual skills a student has. But i would also say you also want to be looking at their noncognitive skills and we do a lot of that in the high school to college models that we run. So, is the student — have we helped them develop the help-seeking behavior they need? That would be a good example of what they need getting into our university which is a very big, public university, public institution. They do have to have some help-seeking skills and self advocacy skills. Are they able to get and understand when they’re not understanding something or struggling in a classroom? And be able to go to the professor? How do they talk about what they need? How do they advocate in the financial aid department for what they need? So there’s both the academic skills and then the skills around, you know, the noncognitive self — the self confidence skills and the help-seeking skills, really.
do you have any sense, vanessa, in terms of how common it is in terms of institutions collecting this kind of information?
i mean, i think it really varies depending on the organization or the institution. You know, and what their ultimate goal is. I think when we started working with laguardia we realized pretty quickly they were collecting a lot of information. Wasn’t necessarily structured in the way that we were thinking about the evaluation but, you know, through working together became very apparent what were the outcomes we were mostly focused on and what were the — thinking about what the goals of the program, what did we really want to measure? I think that, you know, oftentimes i think a lot of organizations or institutions think when they hear data it’s overwhelming and feel like i have to collect a lot to be able to learn what i need to learn but what you realize over time is you can boil it down to the essentials.
some key indicators.
that they aren’t too difficult to collect and analyze even internally and i think the big one with us was engagement issue. Right? And like how much, you know, because that being the first milestone for students is completing the course, i think we were very to discussed on let’s, you know, really measure this first key outcome in terms of completion because i think that kind of set the stage for everything else. I think the big key outcomes from a policy perspective are interested in are ged receipt and enrollment in college and obviously wouldn’t have happened if there wasn’t a key engagement.
right. The idea to back in, you have to go very deep.
and identifying very specific factors that can accelerate that performance and move the student towards specific college and career goals.
and that also — i mean, some of this is remarkable is the acceleration that’s been achieved. You’re bringing — dealing with students under prepared and you — we were working with students —
i would like to add something.
— so the question is sort of what are the instructional strategy that is you’re bringing to bare? We got a question, also, that was from one of the viewers who was asking, like, how do you help students develop attitudes to succeed particularly when they have been not been successful in, you know, a lot of divisional settings? I guess we can follow up with loren. Take a step with that, as well? What do you see as the power in really engaging these students in ways that can accelerate their literacy performance, for example?
sure. Well, i mean, i do think that having the curriculum be more meaningful to them is one thing about it so that we’re building on their own aspirations for coming back to school and unlike the middle schoolers that loren has, most of the students are over 19 and they’re coming back to us, to say i need to finish, i need a high school equivalency and go to college or a better job and so having a career focused curriculum is a connection there. Just in terms of — to their interest.
as you said, aspirational. You had to move into another arena opposed to some sort of remediation model.
right. Some more model that might develop basic skills, basic reading and writing and math skills outside of a context that’s connected to them. The other thing is i think we’re favoring depth over breadth and what you see in the common core that’s rolling out, too. In order to develop the skills that students need, those analytic reasoning skills and critical reading skills that loren was also talking about, we need them to go deep and really grapple with issues and become — we sort of say like mini experts so in our ged and high school equivalency classes they’re doing capstone classes, research projects they’re working in groums often to solve problems, engaging with authentic materials and a lot of nonsection, a lot of scientific text or social study text. And i think the strategies about how teachers do that is important. So teachers who are working with students who are under prepared have to have the skills to scaffold instruction, meaning that we need to have rigorous instruction. We need to be presenting, you know, rigorous reading material so because that’s where the students are going but the teacher that’s in the room needs to be very well trained and gifted in developmental petagochi to help students access and practice that information and that’s the key over time is the contextualized aspect of the curriculum and engage hem and help them understand where they’re doing and develop a sense of not just sort of this idea of the profession and the idea of thinking in a discipline, but also the sense of competency, academic competency.
some experience with success in dealing with challenging material?
it’s not just i, you know, i got a good grade on a multiple choice test. It is much deeper than that. I did a research project and had to, you know, struggle with this, revise it, and really spend sometime working on this authentic project.
i want to add asking here.
yeah, thank you. I appreciate that. Especially as it relates to the academic competency discussion that’s happening now. You know, one of the thing that is we work on here as well as starting with the pre-collegiate programs and continues throughout once they reach our doors at the college level is helping the students, especially african-american students, especially in mathematics, there’s a tremendous degree of math anxiety that’s been very difficult to really understand and wrap our arms around. I mean, if you look at it in the aggregate it’s definitely there and impacts performance as their own academic esteem and so we spend a lot of time really helping students individually understanding what’s underneath this anxiety about mathematics and being comp hent in mathematics. What are the your fears about it? How can we help to get beyond those fears so that you really can have a stronger sense of academic bra va do about yourself relates to competence level in mathematics and science and heard me mention earlier about the counseling side. The counseling center as well as the mathematics labs and science labs, we run constant sessions either group and or individualized on math anxiety, science anxiety, overcoming that. What are your barriers? What can we do to join you in the victories getting beyond the barriers and understanding how proficient you can be and might not where you are now but how can we help you to reach that proficiency level? I think that’s really important, too, to this discussion about competency and what middle school and high school teachers can do to understand that’s really a major factor that prevents many students now from what we see and once they reach our doors that prevents many students to perform as well as we’d like to see them.
well, we’re almost out of time but i really — i would love to ask so many questions. I want to ask both of you. But, a key question, of course, how you scale some of this. How do you get other universities, clearly you come from mission-driven universities. So how do we get more collaboration across the k-12 and the higher education sector? How do you create expectations and understanding of what college ready means? That’s a big question. It’s another webinar. Right?
that it is.
thoughts on any of that sort of this is obviously on the national radar. But some suggestions from both of you and from loren in terms of as wrap-up on some of this?
well, i mean, we are looking first to scale this on our campus. Right? So and the way we’re doing that on our campus is investing in the faculty and the professional development. So, we understand it’s comprehensive model and understand that most of the heavy lifting has to happen in the classroom where the students are so i would say, you know, focusing on initiatives that help faculty learn from one another, professional development learning from one another and doing that with other institutions interested in replicating a model like ours or building more of an academically college-going pre-college model. So that would be one strategy.
all goes back to the teacher, right?
in the classroom. That sounds familiar. Loren, you have a suggestion?
yeah. Just quickly, i’ll just offer two things to this part of the conversation. One is that one of the things that we have been doing more and more is that we have been pairing off our mathematics faculty with some of our mathematics teachers from our major feeder schools for them to not only have broad discussions about mathematics and competency that is are needed for students to be successful in college but also helps us to understand the kind of professional development that we then can offer those mathematics teachers because you heard some of the data i presented talking about the underpreparation, perhaps, if you will, some of the teachers or even their own anxieties of teaching math or science and shore that up and get them where they need to be. The other side is the rep pli case side. We’re fortunate to really have a strong model here that in terms of other colleges and universities, we have had many that have come to our doors not only to see what happens in the summer, but also, to have a firm understanding of the model that we have and that they have been replicating that on their respective campuses and happy to say that many of those universities are seeing similar results.
that’s terrific. That’s wonderful. We need solutions for how to clone you folks, you know? Replicating the model that is are so powerful. I want thank you for joining us today and sorry that we’re out of time. We certainly have a lot more we’d like to discuss. If for the audience, thank you for joining us, as well. You can watch archived video from it at www.all for it.org/webinars. And the slide as i said should be posted by tomorrow. Along with the video. So thanks again for joining us and have a great day.
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