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May 2014 - Focus: College Access and Success

“Inclusion, success, and economic productivity demand that students of all backgrounds and financial circumstances be prepared to enter and graduate from college. Colleges and universities must adapt to welcome students and provide the supports needed for them to graduate. Their future is our best legacy.”– Dr. María “Cuca” Robledo Montecel, IDRA President and CEO

Published 10 times a year, each edition explores issues facing U.S. education today and strategies to better serve every student. This newsletter is published in print and on the IDRA website, in addition to this eLetter format.

Brown at Sixty – How Far Have We Come and How Far Must We Go to Fulfill the Promise of Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas

by Bradley Scott, Ph.D.

As of May 31, it will be 60 years since the U.S. Supreme Court rendered its historic 9 to 0 decision that “separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.” Sixty years later, the real question may be: How far have we come and how far must we go to fulfill the promise of Brown? It was just 10 years ago that IDRA was helping to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas U.S. Supreme Court decision.

Ten years ago, IDRA played a role in three important ways regarding the commemoration of the Brown decision. First, IDRA was asked by the Brown vs. Board of Education 50th Anniversary Commission, created by the U.S. President and Congress, to co-sponsor a dialogue across sectors and across race to discuss the implications of the Brown decision on Latino Americans. IDRA conducted this dialogue event in San Antonio in which the question posed above essentially served as the backdrop for conversations about the application of the decision to the quality of education Latino students receive in public schools. The Mendez vs. Westminster appellate case connected the experience of Latino American students directly to the Brown case. But more importantly, it expanded the historic conversation to a more diverse application and context of students across the United States. Highlights of the event are on our Fullfilling the Promise of Brown and Mendez website. – Keep reading

The Cognitive and Affective Dimensions of College Readiness

by Rosana G. Rodríguez, Ph.D., and Nilka Avilés, Ed.D.

Making college readiness a reality for all students is a challenge for our high schools. The challenge involves changing hearts and expectations and establishing a system for personalizing instruction, an understanding of college readiness skills, a commitment to all students, and a system to monitor progress. Impressive improvements in academic performance of students result when we focus on developing cognitive and affective competencies needed to excel in school and college. Students acquire requisite knowledge and skills and boost their abilities aligned with college expectations when they prepare for college through rigorous, high quality education programs that incorporate genuine social, emotional, developmental and academic support systems by caring adults. One has to be intentional in understanding what constitutes rigor, high expectations and college readiness in order to develop a frame of reference that guides teachers into action for the intended outcomes pertaining to curriculum and instruction.

The affective domain also must be cultivated to enhance teaching and learning. Teachers can build positive relationships and promote a supportive community among students where they help each other succeed in school. How can we accomplish this? – Keep reading 

Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program Celebrates 30 Years of Keeping Students in School

by Linda Cantu, Ph.D.

As IDRA’s Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program has been celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, we have been highlighting milestones and creating new memories. South San Antonio ISD hosted a visit to the program at South San Antonio High School so that guests could see tutors as they worked with their younger tutees. Two Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program tutors were interviewed by the media about how they felt the program was helping them. Michaela Valdez, a 15-year-old who tutors three kindergarten students, said she had been failing algebra, performing poorly on standardized tests and struggling to adapt to high school. But then she was recommended for the Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program. “Michaela fell in love with tutoring… She found the motivation to pull up her grades because she wanted to be a good role model” (Vara-Orta, 2014).

Norma de Hoyos, a third-grade teacher, spoke about the 14-year-old tutor in her classroom, Nicholas Alderete, saying that when Nicholas enters her class each day “the students get excited because they feel cool getting to hang out with a teenager” (Vara-Orta, 2014). – Keep reading

Listen to IDRA’s Classnotes Podcast: “They start calling my name (on being a Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program tutor)”

HB5 Does Not Have to Block Students from College – San Antonio City Council Encourages College Preparation for All Students

Statement by Dr. María “Cuca” Robledo Montecel, IDRA President & CEO, April 17, 2014

IDRA commends the San Antonio City Council for its resolution passed on April 17 to encourage local school districts to choose the distinguished level of achievement as the default in graduation plans for all of their students. The recommendation was made by the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, ¡Presente! and IDRA. This distinguished achievement designation signifies that high school students have taken Algebra II, which is required for them to be eligible for “top 10 percent” automatic college admission. Also the SAT and ACT require knowledge of Algebra II. Making the distinguished achievement designation the default affirms the intention of school districts to prepare all students for college.

San Antonio’s action is consistent with its “smart city” initiatives and investments in creating a college-going culture, citywide. San Antonio ISD and several other school districts across the state have already announced plans to make the distinguished level of achievement the default for their students, including Austin ISD, Houston ISD, and Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD.  – Keep reading

See IDRA’s bilingual slideshow: What Parents Want to Know about the New Texas Graduation Guidelines 

IDRA Research for Family and Community Involvement

Written in April 1984 by IDRA’s founder, Dr. José A, Cárdenas, this 30-year-old statement could have been written today: “As a high-tech, faced-pace economy is emerging, the relatively abysmal state of education in Texas will only hinder the workforce… [including] the low percentage of Texans who are college graduates (16 percent), the equally alarming rate of Texans who graduate from high school (61.4 percent), and the generally low scores made by Texans on their SATs… unless something is done, Texas will not be able to keep up with the demands of a high-tech economy.” (“Texas, Taxes, and High-Tech,” IDRA Newsletter, April 1984)

For decades, IDRA has researched the critical transition between high school and college access and success, particularly for minority and low-income students. IDRA’s research provides critical insights and solutions, such as our studies of a community college that yielded strategies that improved its recruitment and retention of Hispanic, low-income students, and students who were the first in their families to attend college. In 2007 when the Texas Legislature was considering limiting the number of students offered automatic admission under the Top Ten Percent Plan, IDRA compiled and analyzed data on students entering the University of Texas at Austin and all the Texas high schools that contributed graduating seniors to those incoming freshmen classes between the years of 1995 and 2006. In another example, IDRA’s Alianza project and research helped several universities improve their teacher preparation programs, increasing the number of teachers prepared to teach English in bilingual and multicultural environments. IDRA’s InterAction initiative focused on improving college access and success of Latino students and building lasting linkages among K-12 schools, higher education, and the community and business sectors. IDRA’s research set the context for action with the resulting 31 policy solutions informing state policy. In a survey IDRA conducted among minority and low income students, 95 percent of high school seniors said they want to go to college. And just a couple of months ago, IDRA released College Bound and Determined, a report showing how a school district is changing how we think about college readiness. More examples and resources from IDRA’s curriculum quality research work are online

Connect with Us Online

Encourage your friends to sign up for the IDRA Newsletter by email, IDRA eNews, Graduation for All and Classnotes Podcast notices at http://budurl.com/IDRAsignUp


Classnotes Podcasts on College Access and Success

Principal on Creating a College Going Culture – Episode 86

College for All – Episode 75

What Students Need their School Counselors to Hear – Episode 45

The Art of Writing – Tips for Teachers Part 1 – Episode 136

The Art of Writing – Tips for Teachers Part 2 – Episode 137