Exceptional programs focused on Latino success

From addressing basic English and math shortcomings, to encouraging college completion, programs focused on Latino students at five community colleges have been named finalists for the 2018 Examples of Excelencia.

The colleges — as well as a national leadership fellowship program geared toward community colleges — are among 21 postsecondary education programs identified by Excelencia in Education for its annual award, which recognizes innovative evidence-based practices that accelerate Latino student success in higher education. Four winners will be announced in October.

“Latino students are the largest and fastest growing minority group in the U.S. education system at all levels,” Excelencia President Sarita Brown said in a press release announcing the finalists. “The economic advancement of all Americans, not just Latinos, is dependent on postsecondary institutions taking evidence-based action to ensure that all Latino students can succeed in higher education by graduating with earned degrees.”

This year’s selected associate-degree institutions are:

Reading Area Community College (Pennsylvania): The college’s Academic English as a Second Language Program offers credit courses for non-native English speakers and bilingual Spanish/English speakers pursuing a college credential. The program has evolved to consist of a standardized curriculum for each course, offers paid professional development to faculty and staff, and enhances accessibility and resources to their learning center. Overall, enrollee success rates in reading and writing increased from an average of 66 percent prior to 2012 to an average of about 79 percent since.

Cerritos College (California): Cerritos Complete is a partnership between the college and its five local school districts, which collaborate to help high school seniors transition to college. More than a Promise program, it ties academic and student services, while providing strong personal, academic and financial support. Cerritos Complete students complete more units more quickly than other students— 91 percent are enrolled in nine units or more, compared to 45 percent for all Cerritos College students.

El Paso Community College (Texas): The college’s dual-credit and early college high schools program aims to provide higher education access and support for the community’s Latino student population. The program includes mandatory services designed to meet students’ needs of bridge camps, tutoring, advising and social supports. Dual-credit students have a one-year persistence rate of 83 percent and, on average, 63 percent complete an associate or bachelor’s degree within five years.

College of the Desert (California): EDGE (Engage, Develop, Grow, Empower) is a three-week program offering a fast-paced review of basic skills in math and English/reading to reduce the number of students enrolled in non-credit basic-skills coursework once at the college. At the end of the program, students retake college placement tests with the opportunity to remove some, or all, of the basic skills courses. In addition, students receive first- and second-year support services. EDGE students persist from fall to spring at higher rates than non-EDGE students. In 2016, 87 percent of EDGE students continued to the next semester compared to 72 percent of non-EDGE students.

Laredo Community College (Texas): The college’s STEM Articulation provides students interested in the STEM fields with on-going support in the form of academic assistance, bridging the transition to college, and progressing to a seamless transfer to a four-year university. STEM student participants graduated at an average of 3.31 semesters (1-2 years) faster than non-STEM articulation students.

The National Community College Hispanic Council: The Leadership Fellows Program of NCCHC, an affiliated council of the American Association of Community Colleges, provides graduate-level curriculum to prepare candidates to become highly qualified Hispanic/Latino administrators positioned as candidates for community college leadership. The program supports Hispanic/Latino leaders in community colleges through mentorships, conferences and professional development. Today, 12 (15 percent) of the 67 Latino presidents nationwide are former program fellows.

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