Advising high school students with learning differences toward postsecondary enrolment and completion
College Advising Corps (CAC) aims to increase the number of low-income, first-generation, and underrepresented students who enter and complete higher education by placing college advisers in underserved high schools. By adopting a proven curriculum intended to transition students with learning differences into college, CAC’s grant from Oak Foundation focuses on supporting diverse learners’ pathways to postsecondary success.
“The four most important words any student can hear are ‘I believe in you”
– Nicole Hurd, Founder and CEO,
College Advising Corps
ABOUT THE ORGANISATION
College Advising Corps partners with 25 colleges and universities in 15 states to place recent graduates as college advisers in 600 underserved high schools. Advisers foster a college-going culture within the schools they serve by collaborating with teachers and school administrators to support students and families in navigating college and career pathways. Advisers work full-time to help students plan their college searches, complete admissions and financial aid applications, and enroll at schools that will serve them well. Each adviser is a recent college graduate who can relate to the students in powerful ways. Advisers are largely reflective of the communities they serve: 69% identify as a person of color, 53% are first generation college graduates, and 62% were Pell grant-eligible themselves in college, meaning their families are classified as “low-income.” They are uniquely qualified to deliver the message, "If I can succeed in college, you can too!"
ABOUT THE OAK FUNDED PROJECT
With funding from Oak, CAC is integrating the “STEPP” college transition curriculum developed at East Carolina University into its own program. The STEPP transition curriculum leads students and their parents through a 12-month process to prepare young people for entering into and succeeding in college. While it was designed specifically to support students with learning differences, its guidance is relevant to most students, especially those who are first-generation college attenders or from underrepresented populations. The project’s goal is to increase college enrollment rates in high schools served by CAC advisers.
QUESTIONS & ANSWERS /
What have you accomplished through your Oak-funded programme that you’re most proud to share with your colleagues?
We are excited that, throughout the 2016-17 year, Dr. Sarah Carver Williams, director of the STEPP Program at East Carolina University, will train advisers at our four North Carolina programs on the STEPP curriculum. Dr. Williams is also leading a session at our annual Adviser Summit on how advisers can better support students with learning differences as they transition from high school to college.
What’s the most interesting challenge your Oak-funded programme currently faces?
Initially the development of the Branching Minds tool was a marriage between the learning sciences, and teacher practice—our aim was to improve a teacher’s ability to understand the variability of a students’ learning profile and how to differentiate instruction to support their individualized needs. Year two of our product development transitioned our focus to address workflow around Response to Intervention (RTI), a compliance-driven intervention system most districts have adopted nationwide but struggle to achieve. Our tool now coordinates and streamlines the varying workflows across teams of teachers and administrators, to make this larger task of RTI (differentiation) easy. We are now incorporating families and students themselves into these workflows so that they can further collaborate with educators, to achieve an even more personalized level of education.
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Oak Foundation commits its resources to address issues of global, social and environmental concern, particularly those that have a major impact on the lives of the disadvantaged. With offices in Europe, Africa, India and North America, we make grants to organisations in approximately 40 countries worldwide.
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