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Excelencia recognizes colleges for improving Latino success


Excelencia in Education has recognized Canada College in California for its efforts in helping Latino students succeed academically.

Canada was cited for its Math Jam program, which was created in 2009 to turn around poor math preparation among underrepresented students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. 

The program aims to reduce the time to complete an associate degree and transfer to a four-year institution, improve readiness for college-level math, increase students’ awareness of the skills they need to succeed in STEM courses, and develop a community of learners.

Latino presidents face additional challenges

By enabling students to “test out” of math courses and connecting them with faculty, tutors, peers and the Canada College STEM Center, Math Jam has led to improved student engagement and academic success rates. Students in Math Jam had a 93 percent retention rate (compared to 77 percent for non-participants) and a 77 percent graduation rate (versus 53 percent for non-participants).

Excelencia also named the University of Texas at Brownville as having the best program for Latino student success in the baccalaureate category and a joint program of the University of Texas Pan American and the University of Texas at Austin in the graduate-level.

Another 14 programs were recognized as finalists, including five in the associate-degree category:

Single-stop centers can raise Latino completion ratesIn addition, five programs were given honorable mention, including one at the associate degree level: the Hispanic Initiative Program at Grayson College (Texas).

The selected programs are profiled in a new Excelencia report, What Works for Latino Students in High Education, that also describes two promising strategies in improving Latino student success: bilingual education programs and community partnerships.

According to the report, the best programs in promoting outcomes for Latinos at two-year colleges:

•    Involve the faculty in pertinent roles to support students and the program.
•    Incorporate innovative learning models with the use of learning communities and cohorts that foster a college-going culture.
•    Work with and reach out to young students at a critical time in their learning, beginning in the early years of high school.
•    Expose students to research, highlighting the critical link between knowledge of research and education.
•    Offer academic and non-academic mentoring to students by professionals.
•    Recognize the cultural norms and logistical circumstances many Latinos face by offering financial support and programs that support English-language learners.
•    Address disparate representation of Latinos in STEM fields and disaggregate the data by race and ethnicity.
•    Provide engagement opportunities to new students, as well as support systems to help them succeed in math.
•    Incorporate innovative techniques and technology and display cultural competence and service to the rural community.

Focusing on Latinos to reach national completion goals

“As America’s fastest growing minority, Latinos are a true asset for our country, and their educational success will be critical for the future economic success of all Americans,” said Rep. Raul M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.), chairman of the Education and Labor Task Force of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and member of the U.S. House Committee on Education and Workforce.

“This year’s 'Examples of Excelencia' and finalists are at the forefront of meeting the challenge of improving higher educational achievement for Latino students,” said Sarita Brown, president of Excelencia in Education. Policymakers and intuitional leaders now have access to “the largest accumulation of proven examples and tested strategies” for improving college success for Latino students, she said. All they need now is “the will to put these practices into action.”