Giving students with learning differences on college campuses the tools and support to succeed
College STAR (Supporting Transition, Access, and Retention) is a multi-campus collaborative project designed to help participating postsecondary institutions to become welcoming environments for students with learning differences. With Oak’s support, College STAR is currently growing a network of students, parents, and educational professionals committed to this mission.
“We are not another number, another student, another IEP form; we are a human being, and that is great.”
– Participant in College STAR student support programme
ABOUT THE ORGANISATION
College STAR is committed to increasing student success by providing ongoing faculty development opportunities balanced with direct support services for students. An estimated 67% of students with learning differences enroll in postsecondary institutions after graduating from high school. Of that amount, only an estimated 41% graduate from community colleges and 34% from four-year colleges/universities. College STAR is designed to reach students with formally identified disabilities (e.g. learning disabilities and ADD) as well as raise awareness on post-secondary campuses about learner variability in general. It weaves together direct supports for students, instructional supports for faculty members, and partnerships with a wide variety of stakeholders. Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principles, which encourage educators to plan and deliver instruction with the widest possible range of learners in mind, are at the heart of the instructional support component of College STAR.
ABOUT THE OAK FUNDED PROJECT
With Oak’s support, College STAR is partnering with individuals in multiple education settings with a focus on resource development and dissemination, action research, and network building. To that end, College STAR is currently seeking to expand and partner with additional colleges, universities and high schools with an emphasis on providing technical assistance and resources. It is also facilitating the work of a network of individuals who are committed to furthering college opportunities and outcomes for students with diverse learning profiles.
QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
What have you accomplished through your Oak-funded programme that you’re most proud to share with your colleagues?
The development of free, online professional development modules for post-secondary faculty and a student podcast available on iTunes called LD State of Mind. Soon we’ll be able to share video clips of faculty members from various disciplines describing how they incorporate one or more of the principles of UDL into their coursework.
What’s the most interesting challenge your Oak-funded programme currently faces?
Determining how to evaluate the impact of culture-change goals (i.e. goals that do not fit neatly on a spreadsheet or offer easy assessment routes); building a meaningful, sustainable, and productive network of individuals and campuses committed to furthering the College STAR mission; and sustaining the student and instructional support work during challenging financial and political times.
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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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