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Our site in Northwestern Wisconsin has been addressing the college drop out rate amoung the youth from our area and the more we get into this issue the more we realize that we need to look at academic preparedness.  We are trying to get our arms around this topic.  We know that math is an area that we wish to focus efforts but also believe that reading and writing should be included in any kind of initiative we implement to address this.  We will be working with 5 districts not geographically close to each other and will be targeting low income youth and also those youth that would be first generation college students.  So my question is this:  If we invested this next year with a specific cohort of students, how much additional time with mentoring, tutoring, content, etc is enough?  What makes a difference?  one on one time with a tutor, alternative learning strategies, use of community resources and mentors - a combination of all of this?  How do we start to get our arms around this issue?  Perhaps the answers are obvious but this is just not my area of expertise - so I would love to start a discussion on this topic!

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Comment by Dan Leahy on November 28, 2012 at 5:04pm

I'll leave the question of how best to prep the students to others with expertise in that area. As someone on the higher ed side of the equation I think it will be important to work with college administrators and faculty to prepare them to be be good "hosts" for these students. For the last two years we've been working on/learning about what that means as we attempt to build a more diverse and inclusive learning community in the LOS graduate program at Saybrook University. It has been quite the learning adventure and we still have far to go.

We've begun to identify certain organizing questions. What are the specific support needs of these new students that are different from the traditional support programs? Are faculty willing and able to reflect on cultural relevance of the current theories, models and learning designs used in their classes? Is there the political will, a strategic imperative in the institution to attract, retain and graduate these marginalized students, which will include putting resources into the support programs and "motivating" faculty to reflect on their classes?

If the institutions in your area are anything like the ones here on the West Coast, there's likely to be a growing push to expand enrollments and the underserved population is one of the biggest pools to draw from. This is not easy by any means, but I think it is a fundamental aspect of the adaptive challenge facing education today.

Hope this is useful.  Luck! 


Comment by Sanoe Marfil on November 28, 2012 at 4:59pm

Here in Hawai'i we are posed with the same problem. I think the strategy is to do a combination of things.  The high school that we work with are low income, first generation college students, and students are in the CSAP program.  Together the high school and community partnered to leverage funds. We have focused on  Hawaiian Culture, language, alternative learning strategies (project base, place base, hands on) as the way to deliver and address the concerns. 

I think you should contact your resources, and community organization to brainstorm.  I hope this helps,

Comment by Melissa A Martinez on November 28, 2012 at 4:20pm

Ensuring more students are academically prepared for college does really involve a multi-pronged approach. There is work done on "college readiness" that might help you wrap your head around what this can look like. A lot of people though are still attempting to understand and address this issue, so you and your community are not alone. The College Board has done some work in this area and has some info and publications on their website about college readiness, and so does the Educational Policy Improvement Center out of Oregon.  That might be a good start. 

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