SCSU lands college-prep grant

Friday, July 11, 2014

Great Lakes is a Madison, Wis., non-profit organization that promotes college readiness and improves college access

More St. Cloud high school students will be college-ready thanks to a grant from the Great Lakes Higher Education Guaranty Corporation.

St. Cloud State University received a $205,510 grant from the organization to help students from traditionally underserved backgrounds succeed in upper-level math classes while in high school, so they won’t need remedial classes once they enter college. The university was one of 10 colleges and community-based organizations that received some of the $1.3 million in grant funding from Great Lakes.

The funds will support a program designed to improve the mathematics skills of 11th and 12th grade low-income and ethnic minority students from Apollo and Technical high schools during the 2014-2015 school year. The program provides advising and course scheduling and academic support through:

  • Extra math lab sessions offered by high school teachers and supported by college tutors.
  • A math software program to diagnose individual student weaknesses and provide individualized instruction.

It expands on a pilot project the high schools initiated in fall 2013 that used the math lab concept for algebra classes and expands it to students in upper-level classes to target at-risk students.

Studies show that the more math students take in high school, the better their chances of success in college. Also, many jobs call for a strong math background, said Robert Johnson, St. Cloud State Ethnic Studies Department professor and director of the Office of Pre-College Programs.

 “This grant provides the math teachers in District 742 more resources to reach more students and help these students study upper-level mathematics,” he said. “The students will be more prepared for postsecondary life, either in college or the workplace with more mathematics as part of their high school education."

Great Lakes is a Madison, Wis., non-profit organization that promotes college readiness and improves college access. It assists with loan repayment, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Education and private lenders.

Additional tutoring services will be offered in the Access, Opportunity and Success Program (AOSP) located on each high school campus. The AOSP is a partnership between the St. Cloud School District, St. Cloud Technical and Community College and St. Cloud State, which has been providing advising and tutoring services to low-income, first generation and ethnic minority students in the district for the past six years.

The grant will fund a coordinator position that will spend time at both high schools as well as professional development for participating teachers and training for college tutors on use of software and calculators. The grant will also pay for reassigned time for teachers to work with small groups of students in geometry and algebra math labs. Participating students will get graphing calculators.

“(The program) is a part of the work that we currently do in the schools,” Johnson said. “It gives us the means to focus specifically on math education and to provide more services and resources. These services and activities will be complementary to and coordinated with our other services to the students, the schools and the families.”

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