College Spark E-Newsletter
Enhancing Teacher Professional Development Helps Students Prepare for and Succeed in College
Three College Spark Washington grantees are committed to working with high school and college educators to better understand the difference between high school and college-level academic work, skills, and knowledge, and develop teaching and learning strategies to supporting their students.

The Reaching College Readiness Project (The Evergreen State College) involved faculty from five Washington state community colleges who designed assignments that contextualized college readiness within disciplines and fields of study.


Student Attributes for Math Success (State Board for Community and Technical Colleges) engaged college and high school faculty in an exploration of the four attributes (intellectual engagement, attention to detail, perseverance, and responsibility) demonstrated by successful math students.


Abeo School Change (formerly Coalition of Essential School Northwest) worked with high school teachers to examine student work as the basis for designing rigorous and authentic lesson plans and assessments to prepare all students for college-level course work.


Want to learn more about practical methods educators can use to enhance the college-readiness of their students? Check out David Conley's new book: College and Career Ready: Helping All Students Succeed Beyond High School

New Curriculum Available to Help Students Learn About and Access Washington State Resources Available to Help Them Become College Ready
The Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction developed 23 new college and career guidance lessons that connect Washington students to local resources and information. Lessons are grade-level specific, can be customized to suit the needs of your particular school or program, and were designed to integrate local resources and opportunities into national college and career guidance curriculum such as Navigation 101.


I-BEST named a 2011 Bright Idea    
The Washington Community and Technical College system's I-BEST (Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training) program recently received a 2011 Bright Ideas award from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.
I-BEST began as a pilot program in 2006 as a way to help basic skills students realize their goals faster. The program challenges the traditional notion that students must complete all basic education before they can start a vocational program. Instead, I-BEST pairs basic skills instruction with a vocational program so students can learn a skill while they are learning the basics.
 September 19, 2011
Announcing the 2012 Call for Proposals

The focus areas for our 2012 Community Grants are
  • enhancing college readiness for low-income middle and high school students, and

  • increasing the number of low-income students who successfully complete their degree programs.

Grant funds can be used to generate new knowledge about what works in college readiness and degree completion or to build the capacity of programs, organizations, or coalitions.

Webinar information sessions about the application process will be held on September 27 and 28, and the Letter of Interest must be completed online by October 17.

Questions? Contact Heather Gingerich.
Achieving the Dream: Intervention Explorer
Achieving the Dream (ATD) is a national initiative to help more community colleges students succeed, particularly low-income students and students of color. Six ATD colleges in Washington have spent more than five years building a culture of evidence and inquiry, examining student data, implementing strategies to close achievement gaps, evaluating the strategies, and institutionalizing those strategies that have the greatest impact.


Intervention Explorer is a new web-based, searchable tool that summarizes the most successful strategies of the six ATD colleges. Users can search by college or strategy. Collectively, these strategies are moving the needle on student success.

Assessing a College-going Mindset
Research shows that academic performance is the strongest predictor of college readiness and success, and programs that increase students' knowledge of college and careers and improve students' college-going mindset have a positive impact on academic performance. Want to assess your students' college-going mindset? Measuring student gains in this area can help demonstrate program impact and give you valuable information to help you improve your program. Assessment tools are available on the Washington College Access Network and College Spark Washington websites.
Engaging Faculty

Engaging Adjunct and Full-Time Faculty in Student Success Innovation is a new report from Achieving the Dream (ATD) and Public Agenda to help colleges design and implement effective faculty engagement strategies on behalf of institutional change for student success. Section 1, comprised of principles and practices, helps colleges make strategic decisions about when and how to most constructively engage faculty as partners in the difficult work of institutional change. Section 2 offers mini-cases of faculty engagement at colleges participating in ATD. Section 3 includes a list of resources -- research, conference presentations, and additional case studies.

The Data Drive in Franklin Pierce

Franklin Pierce School District, a College Spark Washington grantee, was recently highlighted in the Lumina Foundation's national publication, Focus, for its leadership in using data to improve student success.


After tracking first semester freshmen failure rates, the district learned that more than one out of three freshmen was failing English. The same was true in algebra and science. Franklin Pierce district leadership responded by developing a Freshman Success Program in English, math, and science. Six years later, the district is seeing a dramatic decline in freshmen first semester failure rates. At Washington High School, the failure rate decreased by 33 percent in English, by 26 percent in science, and by 26 percent in algebra. Similar success can be found at Franklin Pierce High School.


The Freshman Success Program requires students who miss more than two assignments to attend a 45-minute study hall prior to lunch focused on the core content area of the missing assignment. Students who complete the missing assignments are excused to lunch; those who don't are brought lunch and required to stay and complete the work. According to Assistant Superintendent Tim Stensager, in addition to the dramatic decreases in failure rates, there have been significant increases in attendance rates and the district has the lowest suspension rates on record. "With 15, instead of 130, kids failing, the counseling staff can dig-in, examine the underlying issues facing each student, and develop an individualized plan of support" says Tim.

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