February 6, 1996 Contact: Jennifer McNulty (408) 459-2495; email@example.com
DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION SELECTS UC SANTA CRUZ TO HEAD FIVE- YEAR, $20 MILLION PROJECT TO HELP AT-RISK STUDENTS
National center based at UCSC will address primary risk factors of language, race, poverty, and geographic location facing students from preschool through college
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
SANTA CRUZ, CA--The University of California, Santa Cruz, has been selected by the federal Department of Education to coordinate a five-year, $20 million effort designed to help students whose education is at risk.
The project will bring together researchers from around the country to focus on four risk factors that jeopardize the success of students: limited English proficiency, race, poverty, and geographic location.
Students who face one or more of these factors are at great risk of not finishing their education or of not reaching their full potential, says Roland Tharp, professor of education at UCSC and director of the new center. The goals of the project, which will reach from preschool through college, will be to identify the most effective strategies for helping at-risk students and to influence policy from the local to the national level, he says.
"We will bring together major researchers from around the country to establish the scope of the problem and to develop practical policy solutions that will be ready for enactment," says Tharp. "We know the problem is pervasive and that it requires a coordinated national effort to deal with it. Our job will be to find out what can be done to respond to the challenges education is facing today."
UCSC's selection marks the second time in six years that the campus has been chosen as the site of a federally funded national center for education. The National Center for Research on Cultural Diversity and Second Language Learning was established at UCSC in 1991 to develop effective educational strategies for students with limited English skills. That five-year project was completed last year.
"This new project recognizes the campus's national leadership on issues of language and culture, and it enables us to expand those interests to include the issues of race, poverty, and geography that are hobbling our educational system," says Tharp.
The exact scope of the problem is not known, in part because studies have not looked at the number of students facing more than one risk factor, says Tharp. Generally, in a class of 30 students, educators figure that 10 students are either second-language learners, immigrants, or minorities, and 10 students suffer from poverty. "But they may not be the same 10 children," points out Tharp. "Not every poor child is at risk, and not every ethnic minority is at risk."
Geographic location plays a large role in determining a student's educational opportunities, notes Tharp, adding that the project will cover issues facing inner-city students as well as those in Appalachia and other remote rural locations, including Indian reservations. Researchers will be working with inner-city students in San Francisco, San Diego, Boston, Washington, D.C., Memphis, and Miami.
"Research projects will be active at each level--from individual classrooms, schools, and districts, to state, national, and tribal policy," says Tharp.
UCSC will serve as the lead campus and fiscal agent that administers what is called a "cooperative agreement." The work will be done under contract with the Department of Education, and the contract will be renegotiated each year, explains Tharp.
In addition to UCSC, other schools and facilities participating in the center, which has yet to be named, are: The Center for Applied Linguistics; University of Colorado, Boulder; Brown University; George Mason University; University of Arizona; California State University, Long Beach; California State University, San Jose; University of Hawaii; ARC; RAND; TERC; Johns Hopkins University; University of Houston; University of Louisville; Western Washington University; California State University, San Diego; University of Memphis; University of Southern California; and Claremont Graduate School. In addition, University of California campuses in Davis, Los Angeles, San Diego, and Santa Barbara will participate under the auspices of UC's systemwide Language Minority Research Institute.
Participants will embark on 38 research projects in program areas that include language learning, professional development, family/peers/community, instruction in context, and integrated reform. Eight projects will be based at UCSC. In addition to Tharp, UCSC participants will include Margarita Azmitia, Maureen Callanan, Catherine Cooper, Stephanie Dalton, Peggy Estrada, Barbara Rogoff, and Trish Stoddart.
Among the 38 projects that have been funded are:
-- A study that will identify the most successful training programs for teachers who work with at-risk students.
-- An examination of ways in which business and industry can best team up with schools for positive change.
-- A project to identify the particular struggles of gifted minority girls.
Independent researchers will be in continuous communication with others in similar fields, and annual conferences will bring together all the participants, says Tharp. "We will also be in close touch with the Department of Education, and we want to be informing national policy as we go along," he says.
Editor's Note: Roland Tharp, who is on leave this quarter, can be reached at home at (408) 429-6608 or through Jennifer McNulty in the UCSC Public Information Office at (408) 459-2495 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
This release is also available on the World Wide Web at UCSC's "Services for Journalists" site (http://www.ucsc.edu/news/journalist.html) or via modem from UC NewsWire (209-244-6971).