by Carla Rivera, originally published in The Los Angeles Times on 10/29/2010
An innovative system of help centers aims to give students extra support in such courses as math and English to ensure that they stay in college and eventually move on to four-year programs.
For Christian Garcia, the most immediate hurdle to his goal of becoming a recording engineer is the intermediate algebra he’s been laboring over all day in a Long Beach City College student center.
Grasping the complex equations will allow him to pass the class and move on to the higher-level math courses he needs to transfer to a four-year university. It’s hard work for Garcia, but his grades this semester have steadily improved with the tutoring and other help he’s received at the campus center. “I got a really low grade on the first test,” Garcia, 20, said. “I wasn’t feeling good and I was really frustrated. But now I’m hoping to get at least a B in the class. Without the help I’m getting here, I’d have no chance.”
The center is part of a program called the Long Beach College Promise, an unusual collaboration involving the Long Beach Unified School District and Cal State Long Beach that is tackling the barriers that prevent many students from succeeding in college.
A report released last week showed that 70% of students seeking degrees at California’s community colleges either did not attain them or didn’t transfer to four-year universities wtihin six years. The Institute for Higher Education Leadership & Policy at Cal State Sacramento found that most of those students eventually dropped out.
Against that backdrop, the Long Beach initiative is being hailed as a national model. Now in its third year, it is intended to provide a seamless, coordinated system of information, intervention and academic preparation from kindergarten to graduate school. The program received national attention at an education summit in Washington last week.
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