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October 27, 1997

UCSC teams up with San Jose schools to help students prepare for college

By Jennifer McNulty

An ambitious new partnership between the East Side Union High School District and UCSC will dramatically improve college participation rates of students from East San Jose.

The goals of the partnership are to improve the academic preparation of students in the district and to increase the number of students who enroll at UC campuses. To that end, UCSC faculty and staff are teaming up with district personnel to build programs that will help students prepare for college, meet college admissions requirements, apply, and enroll.

Services being offered to each of the 10 high schools in the district include:

In the spring, three schools will also host an intensive academic enrichment program known as "Saturday College." Fifty students each from James Lick, W. C. Overfelt, and Yerba Buena High Schools will be selected to participate in a seven-week program that emphasizes math and English instruction.

In addition, UCSC is tailoring programs and services to meet the individual needs of schools as identified by principals and school administrators. Some of those services include scholarship search training for career counselors, analysis of standardized test results, access to UC libraries and public events, and university field trips.

"Our goal is to provide a full host of academic support and outreach services to economically disadvantaged students in one of the most racially diverse districts in California," said Francisco Hernandez, vice chancellor for student affairs at UCSC. "Research shows that these types of early academic outreach efforts can make all the difference. A lot of these kids have the potential to be the first in their families to attend college. It's our job to help make them aware of their educational options and to help them make decisions that will keep those options open for them."

The East Side Union High School District has grown from just under 13,000 students in 1968 to more than 24,000 this year. Latinos make up 38 percent of the student body, followed by Asians (34 percent), whites (20 percent), African Americans (7 percent), and American Indians (1 percent). More than 30 percent of students have limited English skills, and only 36 percent of all students take the courses that satisfy the University of California's eligibility requirements.

"This collaboration has the potential to make a big difference in the lives of our students," said Joe Coto, superintendent of the East Side Union High School District. "I believe we'll see a measurable impact right away. Our students, parents, teachers, counselors, and administrators are eager to get to work."

The UCSC/East Side Union High School District partnership is being funded by a $165,000 grant from the University of California. The effort is one of several regional partnerships being launched statewide this year at the initiative of the University's Outreach Task Force. The goal of the task force is to promote collaborations between UC campuses and K-12 schools where disadvantaged students are enrolled in large numbers. The funding is designed to build the infrastructure for a long-term association.

"We want to extend the academic partnerships we've had in the Monterey Bay region into the Santa Clara Valley," added Hernandez. "The Santa Clara Valley has always been part of our service area, and we've always had early academic outreach programs there, but we want to enhance our effort and leverage our resources in partnership with the school district so that the students benefit."

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