Hispanic students at Cuyamaca College will soon see a significant boost in efforts aimed at guiding them toward obtaining certificates and degrees and transferring to four-year colleges and universities, thanks to a nearly $2.6-million, five-year federal grant.
The grant is funded through the U.S. Department of Education’s Developing Hispanic-Serving Institutions Program, a program assisting Hispanic Serving Institutions such as Cuyamaca College to expand educational opportunities and improve academic achievement.
Hispanic Serving Institutions are colleges or universities where Hispanics make up at least 25 percent of the school’s students and that have adopted strategies to help first-generation, low-income Latino students. Nearly one in three of the about 9,000 students at Cuyamaca College are Latino.
“It is exciting for the college to implement this kind of grant and these kind of programs that will greatly benefit our students,” said Scott Thayer, Cuyamaca College’s vice president of student services. “Cuyamaca College is committed to doing everything possible to make sure our students succeed.”
The grant will fund a new program dubbed The Pathway Academy, a student success effort containing the following strategies:
· Minimizing the time students spend in remedial classes that are known among academics as basic skills or developmental courses. Studies have shown that every added basic skills class a student is required to take reduces his or her chances of graduating.
· Expanding student support services for Hispanic students, including creating clear roadmaps detailing what a student must do to complete his or her educational goals.
· Professional development for all faculty and staff, including workshops and training that provide instructors with the latest research on best practices in student success strategies.
The Pathway Academy is intended to help close the achievement gap between Hispanic students and other groups. The rate at which Hispanic students complete their courses at Cuyamaca College is 38.7 percent, 10 percent lower than the completion rate of other students.
The effectiveness of the program will be measured through increased persistence, course completion, remedial progress rates and the numbers of students earning degrees and certificates and transferring to four-year colleges and universities.
Thayer noted that the Pathway Academy builds upon a number of related efforts at Cuyamaca College that have been implemented in recent years, including the First Year Experience, a comprehensive program designed to assist and guide students through their first year in college.
In September 2015, Grossmont College received a similar five-year federal grant for $2.62 million to fund a program aimed at helping Hispanic students succeed. The grant funds are being used to develop a program called Via Rápida, which assists with outreach, assessment and accelerated programs for Hispanic students.
Cuyamaca College’s grant is the second major award provided to the college this year to boost student success. Cuyamaca secured a $1.5 million state grant in May that expands on the college’s innovative programs to dramatically reduce the remedial pipeline and better prepare students for college level coursework. The Basic Skills and Student Outcomes Transformation Program grant will enable Cuyamaca College to significantly reduce the number of students forced into remedial education courses.
Cuyamaca College had already developed programs that are significantly reducing remedial education requirements in English, math, and ESL for certain groups of underprepared students and English-language learners, and those students are successfully completing college-level English and math courses at significantly higher rates and in much less time.