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May 25, 1998

New UCSC programs help K-12 students prepare for college

By Francine Tyler

Students received extra training in math and English through "Saturday College" offered through UCSC's partnership with the East Side Union High School District. (More photos)

Now that University of California policy and state law have eliminated the use of race, gender, and ethnicity as factors in the admission of students, UC Santa Cruz is launching a number of ambitious efforts to help students of all backgrounds become eligible for the university.

One of these efforts is a partnership modeled on a successful collaboration between UCSC and a San Jose school district.

Last fall, UCSC teamed up with the East Side Union High School District to improve college participation rates of students from East San Jose. This fall, UCSC plans to launch a similar partnership with a high school district in Merced.

"Research shows that early academic outreach efforts can make all the difference," said Francisco J. Hernandez, vice chancellor for student affairs at UCSC. "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."

UC Santa Cruz has embraced the idea of collaboration and used it to create a new model for reaching out to students, said J. Michael Thompson, associate vice chancellor for enrollment management and director of admissions.

"The essence of the partnership is that we go to the schools and ask what they need to help their students, and we go about providing it to them," said Thompson. "Together with the schools, we have developed a new model for what we think a successful outreach program should look like."

At East Side Union High School District, teachers and UCSC faculty have been exchanging ideas and supporting each other; students have been tutored intensively in English and math; and parents have been learning about the requirements and rewards of higher education for their children.

The partnership has already started paying off for East Side students, said district superintendent Joe Coto.

"It's raising the aspirations of our students and having a very positive effect," he said. "They're thinking it's possible to go to a more prestigious university, like UCSC."

A successful outreach program like the one at the East Side district is now seen to contain three key elements, Thompson said:

In addition, parents are also given an opportunity to learn about higher education through Saturday classes, workshops, and discussion sessions.

"In the past, outreach programs have concentrated mostly on providing motivation and support to students," said Thompson. "Now, we're seeing each aspect as equally important in helping students become eligible and competitive for the university."

Don Rothman, director of the Central California Writing Project at UCSC, helped set up support for the teaching of writing at the East Side district and is working to establish a similar collaboration with the Merced Union High School District.

"I'm confident we will end up creating a new conversation--a professional dialogue--about the teaching of writing, and that's good," Rothman said. "Eventually, we need to get those kids, who are now in fourth grade and who will be seniors when UC Merced opens, ready, eligible, and competitive so they can get into the university."

Rothman's Central California Writing Project brings teachers to UCSC every summer to learn methods for teaching writing. Rothman is already plotting how to use the program to enrich partnership schools. For example, he envisions bringing Merced teachers together with others who have been through the summer institute so that they can learn from each other.

"That's how we're going to improve the schools," Rothman said. "Through partnerships and professional collaboration. It's not from people coming in from the outside telling people how to do things."

One of UCSC's recent collaborative projects has been with fourth-grade students at Aromas School in Monterey County. The fourth graders wrote a bilingual book, Kids Around the University, detailing the college experience from a kids-eye view. UCSC helped them publish their manuscript in book form and plans to distribute the book to fourth-grade classrooms in Monterey and Santa Cruz Counties.

UCSC is also increasing its work with older children. The campus has received $160,000 from the UC Office of the President to expand the services its Early Academic Outreach Program (EAOP) offers to high schools on the Central Coast. It plans to increase its work in the towns of Seaside and Salinas in Monterey County with some of that funding.

"These new partnerships deepen the services EAOP has offered and expand the academic development component of the outreach," said EAOP director Allen Fields. The outreach program has counseled and motivated underrepresented students in schools from Monterey to Fresno for the last 20 years.

"This kind of outreach is something we've wanted to do for a long period of time," he added. "What we really needed were additional resources and support from the Office of the President and the legislature to get the resources that we needed to expand the services that we believe are going to make a difference."

The Chancellor's Educational Partnership Advisory Council is acting to coordinate the campus's outreach efforts. The group is chaired by Social Sciences Dean Martin Chemers and made up of faculty, staff, and administrators with a particular interest in outreach.

At the request of the UC Office of the President, a subcommittee of the council selected six high schools in the Monterey Bay and Santa Clara areas with which UCSC will begin working in the fall.

These are: Overfelt High School in Santa Clara County, San Benito High School in San Benito County, Aptos High School in Santa Cruz County, and North Monterey High School, Edward Alvarez High School, and Salinas High School in Monterey County. It has not yet been decided what forms of support UCSC will offer to these schools.

Members of the UCSC community are involved in a myriad of activities which are too numerous to list comprehensively. They include:

For a more complete listing of outreach programs at UCSC, go to the Chancellor's Educational Partnership Advisory Council's Web page.

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