Academic journal article Research & Teaching in Developmental Education

Building a Bridge to Improve Student Success: A Collaborative Project between Western Connecticut State University and Area High Schools

Academic journal article Research & Teaching in Developmental Education

Building a Bridge to Improve Student Success: A Collaborative Project between Western Connecticut State University and Area High Schools

Article excerpt

Abstract

Western Connecticut State University (WestConn) is working with two local high schools to improve student proficiency in English and mathematics through the 3-phase "Building a Bridge" project. In Phase 1, WestConn placement exams in English and mathematics were administered to high school juniors, who later received their placement results and additional feedback. In particular, students who placed into remedial courses were advised to enroll in coursework during their senior year to improve their skills. During Phase 2, WestConn and high school faculty met to formulate curricular changes for the upcoming school year. Phase 3 occurs one year after Phase 1, when the initial cohort of juniors will take the placement exams as seniors to determine whether improvements have been made. At this time, a new cohort of juniors is tested to begin a new cycle. This article discusses the first two phases of this "Bridge" project as the third phase is currently underway.

In Summer 2003, the Connecticut State University (CSU) Board of Trustees (BOT) passed a resolution designed to increase retention and graduation rates and reduce the need for remedial courses at the four CSU campuses. Effective Fall 2004, students who place into ENG 098(1) and/or MAT 0982 must successfully complete those courses within their first 24 academic credits to be eligible for continued enrollment in the CSU system. That is, failure to pass these courses in that timeframe prohibits a student from registering for credit courses at any of the four CSU campuses, until the courses (or their equivalent) have been passed elsewhere. The BOT mandated each university in the CSU system to "develop action plans to increase the percentage of entering students who are sufficiently proficient in English and Mathematics to be able to do college-level work in those fields, so as to enable a reduction in the number of proficiency courses that must be offered" (BOT, 2003, p. 2). As a response to this resolution, the "Building a Bridge" project was formed at Western Connecticut State University, one of the four CSU campuses.

Context

It is important to note that the "Building a Bridge" project did not emerge in a vacuum. Rather, this project represents a portion of WestConn's response to ongoing national and statewide conversations about student preparedness for college. In the four-campus Connecticut State University system, for example, "62 percent of entering freshmen will leave before earning a degree" (Frahm, 2004). Nationally, reports such as Michael W. Kirst's "Overcoming the High School Senior Slump: New Education Policies" (2001) and The National Commission on Writing in America's Schools' "The Neglected 'R': The Need for a Writing Revolution" (College Entrance Examination Board, 2003) point to the need for helping high school students boost their skills before going to college. In Spring 2004, The American Educator, a publication of the American Federation of Teachers, addressed this issue in a series of stories. Among these stories were pieces on "What Does It Mean to be Prepared for College?" and "High School Preparation Is the Best Predictor of College Graduation." Similarly, the Spring 2004 issue of the College Board Review was devoted to "The Art and Craft of Writing." Indeed, the College Board's decision to revamp the SAT to include a writing portion was a response to a perceived lack of fundamental skills (Cloud, 2003). Moreover, the ACT's recent report, "Crisis at the Core: Preparing All Students for College and Work" (2004), argues that a 4th year of math that goes beyond the core curriculum is needed to ensure college readiness.

The Project

The "Building a Bridge" project was designed in three recurring phases. In Phase 1, the WestConn placement exams in English and mathematics were administered to high school juniors to identify who would place into college remedial courses. Those students were then encouraged to enroll in coursework in their senior year to improve their skills. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.