(Includes excerpts from the article written by Dayna Straehley and published by the Press-Enterprise on June 7, 2013)
With the so-called Two-Year Contract for Alvord and Riverside high school students going to Riverside City College, the Completion Counts initiative has “solved an age-old problem,” the chancellor said.
“This is the biggest problem we have in American education,” Riverside Community College District Chancellor Gregory Gray said. “Students coming to college ill-prepared don’t make it.”
Students at Norte Vista High School gathered in their gymnasium in 2012 to learn about the citywide initiative.
Students coming to RCC on the Two-Year Contract, which began for students who started last fall, are better prepared than their peers from the same school districts, said Ed Bush, RCC’s vice president for student services. He presented the data to the college district’s Board of Trustees on Tuesday, June 4.
Twice as many students on the Two-Year Contract are placed in college-level English their first semester. Almost three times as many are placed in college-level math compared to freshman who started in 2011.
The contract students are also more successful completing coursework overall, Bush’s data shows.
The contract, created through Completion Counts, requires students to attend full-time and guarantees them priority access to the classes they need to earn associate’s degrees within two years.
Most other students start part time and do not take English or math their first three years, Bush said.
To be eligible for the contract, students also must take placement tests and place no lower than one level below college-level English and math.
Funded by a Gates Foundation Grant, Completion Counts has been an initiative with Alvord and Riverside Unified School Districts, RCC, the Riverside County Office of Education, the City of Riverside and Greater Riverside Chambers of Commerce. The goal is to raise both high school and college graduation rates in the city.
With the grant funding now in its third and final year, the college and school districts used the grant to change what they are doing so the improvement can continue after the money runs out, RCC President Cynthia Azari said. Shelagh Camak, RCC vice president for workforce and resource development, said those changes are firmly embedded in the way high schools and the college work.
The Two-Year Contract was the defining accomplishment of the Completion Counts effort, Camak said.
English and mathematics faculty from the college and high schools have been meeting to discuss expectations and aligning curriculum to prepare students, sharing statistics and other information that the college had never shared before, she said. Now high school teachers understand what will be expected when their students start college, the curriculum is better aligned and students are better prepared.
Riverside has come together around the need to promote higher education in our community and ensure that our students are able to take full advantage of the opportunities available at any of the institutions of higher education within our city. The two-year guarantee reflects the commitment to lifelong learning and a college-going culture in Riverside by ensuring that students achieve their academic goals through accessible and efficient means.
To read the full article as written by Straehley, click here.
To learn more about the Completion Counts initiative and the Two-Year Guarantee, visit College311.org, or read more posts on the Completion Counts efforts and successes.