College Spark E-Newsletter

College Spark Washington funds programs across Washington state that help low-income students become college-ready and earn their degrees.

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Upcoming Events

NASAI Conference at Washington State University in Pullman, WA, June 4-5, 2015 Join the Native American Student Advocacy Institute (NASAI): Educating Native Youth for Success: Many Nations, One Vision conference to discuss new solutions, share best practices, and collaborate with colleagues to make a difference in the lives of American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian students.


Green River Community College hosts a tutoring conference, Reaching the Summit of Success, February 28, 2015.  Tutoring programs are essential to academic success and, with increased national attention on degree completion, their role on college campuses has never been greater. This conference is an opportunity for faculty, tutors, administrators, staff, and students of academic resource centers to share and examine the strategies and practices they use to help students achieve new heights.  





The Community CollegeResearch Center (CCRC) released a practitioner packet, Simplifying Complexity in the Student Experience, designed to help colleges identify areas where students struggle due to excessive complexity in the process of intake, orientation, and course selection, and devise and implement relatively low-cost solutions that can improve the student experience.



Why Advisory from Educators for Social Responsibility

Advisories are a primary way to create a more personalized learning environment where all students are well known by at least one adult. Moreover, advisory provides a structure and a set of practices for monitoring and supporting students' academic progress and college and career readiness throughout their time in high school.

This video features students, teachers, and administrators explaining Why Advisory is so important.




Bridge to College Transition Courses in Math and English 


Bridge to College Mathematics and Bridge to College English are new senior year transition courses for 12th grade students who score below the college-ready level on the Smarter Balanced Assessment in 11th grade.  Students who pass the course will be considered college-ready by Washington's public colleges and permitted to enroll in non-STEM college-level math courses without additional placement testing. 

Transition courses will

  • Allow more high school students to avoid remediation and placement testing when they enter college.
  • Improve curricular alignment between K-12 and entry-level college courses in math and English.
  • Develop and sustain local college/school district partnerships and faculty/teacher collaboration. 


Designed and developed by higher education faculty, high school teachers, and curriculum specialists from multiple colleges and school districts, the Bridge to College courses are grounded in essential career and college readiness expectations as reflected by Washington's Common Core state learning standards. 


Grant funding is available to support schools implementing the Bridge to College courses.  More information is available through OSPI's iGrants, package number 719.


Ready Washington coalition launches new resources  


The Using Smarter Balanced Scores to Chart Your Path infographic and video explain how Smarter Balanced assessment scores can impact a student's pathway to high school graduation.



Ready WA: Using Smarter Balanced Scores to Chart Your Path
Ready WA: Using Smarter Balanced Scores to Chart Your Path
Grantee News in the Field
Out of school suspensions are on the rise across the country, and even one suspension can increase the chances of a student dropping out entirely.  Shuksan Middle School focuses on reducing early warning indicators in Middle school shows the way to keeping kids in schoolBy establishing a system of restorative justice to provide students with learning and restitution opportunities as an alternative to suspension and expulsion and by reviewing and responding to attendance data weekly, the school has significantly reduced the number of days of school missed.  Students missed nearly 450 days of school due to suspension in the 2009-10 school year.  That number dropped to less than 170 in 2013-14, resulting in more students in school and learning.


College Spark welcomes new education leader to Board of Trustees
Erin Jones is the Director of AVID for the Tacoma School District, supporting 11 AVID sites in the region.  She has been involved in education for the past 23 years as an athletic coach, a public and private school teacher, a state superintendent, and a district executive.  Erin has taught in a variety of environments, from predominantly African American to predominantly Caucasian to some of the most diverse communities in the nation. She began her career in Philadelphia, followed by a move to South Bend, Indiana, followed by a move to Washington state, where she has now lived for 17 years. Erin received an award as the Most Innovative Foreign Language Teacher in 2007, while working at Stewart Middle School in Tacoma and was the Washington State Milken Educator of the Year in 2008 while teaching at Rogers High School in Spokane. She received recognition at the White House in March of 2013 as a "Champion of Change."  
Erin's greatest passion is to create equity by closing opportunity gaps and ensuring all students have access to quality early childhood programs, quality educators, high standards, culturally-relevant curriculum, proportional access to special programs, and intentional instruction in academic English.


6th Annual NavAcademy at Washington High School in Tacoma
Staff from 19 schools implementing Career Guidance Washington programs (formerly called Navigation 101) as part of the College Spark College Readiness Initiative gathered for the Sixth Annual Nav Academy on January 14th and 15th at the Franklin Pierce School District. Participants celebrated positive trends in student outcome data since the launch of the College Readiness Initiative, especially the trend toward more rigorous high school course-taking. The rate at which seniors graduate from high school with a four-year college eligible transcript has increased from 36% to 55% during the past five years. Participants credited these improvements to student-driven scheduling, mentoring, and college and career planning curriculum.
The College and Career Readiness GPS for Every Student infographic, developed by the Foundation for Excellence in Education, was shared among education leaders, teachers, and counselors and details the importance of a robust student guidance system.


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