Post-Secondary Success – Work in Action
The Challenge We Face
By 2020, nearly three in four jobs in Colorado will require some education beyond high school which includes a certificate, two-year or four-year degree. Yet today, only 46% of youth in the ACYI Partnership (5 school districts: Adams 12 FIVE Star Schools, Adams County School District 14, Brighton School District 27J, Mapleton Public Schools and Westminster Public Schools) enroll in post-secondary programs, and only 39% of these youth complete their program within 6 years, if at all.
Essentially, this means that about 20% of our community’s high school graduates are receiving the credentials they need for self-sufficient employment. These rates have major implications on our economy as post-secondary enrollment and attainment rates correlate with the human capital necessary to attract and retain primary employers. Without primary employers, we do not have the jobs that improve the economic base of Adams County.
What Are We Doing About This?
Cross-sector partners, who understand and agree that collective action is needed to support more young people to receive the credentials necessary to successfully enter the workforce, have assembled to strategically align their action to results. The Collaborative Action Network (CAN), has utilized StriveTogether’s outcomes focused approach to:
|1. Understand the current state and identify a baseline and key indicators of enrollment and attainment rates in Adams County.
|46% of youth in the ACYI Partnership enroll in post-secondary programs and only 39% of these youth complete their program within 6 years.
Key indicators: Concurrent Enrollment, FAFSA Completion, Financial Aid, Remedial Education, First Year Persistence, First Year Post-Secondary Outcomes (Average Cumulative GPA)
|2. Develop time bound, measurable targets to improve rates.||Global Target: By 2025, students in Adams County (5 school districts) will enroll in and complete post-secondary at or above the state rate.
Short-Term SMART Target: By Spring Semester 2019, 48% (est. 100 seniors in Adams 12, Mapleton, and Westminster Public Schools who have been accepted to a postsecondary institution, but who are at risk of not enrolling) of the 2018 high school graduating class, across the partnership, will enroll in postsecondary programs, bringing the rate of enrollment from 46% (class of 2015) to 48%.
|3. Understand WHY Adams County students are not enrolling in post-secondary opportunities when they graduate from high school. AND for those who do enroll, understand why they are not completing.
|After completing a factor and root cause analysis (including garnering perspective from youth) on what the barriers are to their success, the CAN identified that youth are lacking systems of support (intrusive advising and mentoring), and an understanding of and access to financial aid (financial aid and literacy), and youth do not know how to access opportunities and they are lacking connectivity to post-secondary campuses (knowing & going).|
|4. Determine the strategies and interventions that will yield the highest results.||Long-Term Strategy: Overlay the Colorado Department of Higher Education and Colorado Commission on Higher Education State Master Plan onto the longer term work the CAN will take on (focused on systems change and attainment). For the state to advance, Adams County must advance.
Short-Term Strategy: The following strategies were identified to focus on to meet the Short-Term SMART Target: Summer Bridge, targeted Intrusive Advising/Mentoring, help with financial aid and scholarships, bringing cohorts of students formally on campus.
Additional strategies for the 2019-2020 Academic Year are in development.
Zoning In On At Least 200 Youth In Need
Utilizing the Continuous Improvement framework to drive its focus, the CAN set its SITES on intentional efforts to meet its Short-Term SMART Target. Instead of trying to eat a monstrous elephant (increasing enrollment across the board), the CAN zeroed in on students who have already taken the first step, having applied and been accepted to a post-secondary opportunity. In particular to those entities that are actively engaged in the PSS CAN. Furthermore, the CAN zoned in on students from school districts who are actively engaged in the CAN. The CAN’s mantra.. “Focus on what is within our sphere of influence and control.”
|Cohort of Students Who Are At Risk of Summer Melt
In alignment with the Short-Term Target, the CAN has identified a cohort of approximately 200 high school graduates, of over 460 graduates (May 2018) who have applied and been accepted to Front Range Community College, Metropolitan State University of Denver or Colorado State University, but who are at risk of Summer Melt.
Despite being college eligible and in some cases even enrolled, these students are at risk of not attending in the fall and will instead “melt” away during the summer. The lower a student’s income, the more likely they are to experience summer melt because they lack the necessary resources and support.
Focusing on Strategies We Know Work
Intrusive Advising, a.k.a., Proactive or High Touch Advising, is a more developed and intensive form of advising that involves deliberate intervention by a Post-Secondary Success Coordinator (PSS Coordinator) to enhance student motivation and support. Both the Mapleton Education Foundation and the Westminster Public Schools Foundation have demonstrated significant results utilizing PSS Coordinators who provide intrusive advising and have data that supports the results. Research indicates student enrollment and retention rates are markedly higher using these intrusive advising techniques.
Summer Bridge Programs
Summer Bridge programs are designed to provide students an opportunity to successfully transition from high school to college with structured support. According to “Build a Better Future with “Bridges” to College by Mamadou Ndiaye there is sound evidence to support that bridge programs improve outcomes for incoming college students. Summer bridge programs reduce the need for remedial education, save students money on remedial course and increase credential completion rates
|How was the cohort of students identified?
The CAN pulled a list of students who have applied and been accepted to Front Range Community College, Metropolitan State University of Denver and Colorado State University using the following criteria:
The CAN then filtered for students who are not already receiving the following quality support:
From there, it was determined that the CAN would focus shared efforts on 200 of the over 460 students who have applied and been accepted and who are not already receiving support. With a cohort of 200 students the CAN is hoping to meet the short-term target (100 more students to enroll).
What We Know Works –
“We’re adopting best practice strategies with proven results,” commented Chuck Gross, Convener of ACYI’s Post-Secondary Success CAN and Executive Director of the Adams County Education Consortium.
“By providing these interventions to this cohort of students, we are taking significant steps to ensure their success.”
Youth, Parent and Community Voice & Perspective
The Post-Secondary Success CAN is utilizing Technology Enabled Girl Ambassadors (TEGA) to inform and evaluate factors identified during factor analysis and the interventions SITEs are implementing as part of the Continuous Improvement (CI) Process. TEGAs are young women aged 18-24 who are trained to conduct research via a mobile application, which allows them to serve as digital interviewers, collecting real-time data about their communities in the form of audio, videos and photos, as well as traditional survey data.
Two phases of TEGA research for the CAN are underway, interviewing a total of 170 people. The first phase, conducted over the summer of 2018, focused on evaluating factors that students face to enrolling in post-secondary programs, as they’re happening in real time. The second, in development, will gain feedback on the interventions that the CAN implemented and how they impacted a student’s decision to enroll or not enroll in post-secondary programs. As part of phase two, we will capture insights from graduates who did not receive any interventions to compare their outcomes with our targeted sample.
The specific objectives of this fieldwork are to:
- Evaluate the factors graduating seniors identify as causing summer melt
- Identify the implications for students who fell victim to summer melt
- Identify and evaluate interventions taking place in the summer of 2018
- Identify the implications for students who enrolled in post-secondary programs
Our SITES Set On Targets
Adams County College Works
Metropolitan State University of Denver, Front Range Community College and Adams County Workforce and Business Center have partnered to offer a unique summer employment opportunity that doubles as both a Summer Bridge Program and provides Intrusive Advising for students who are enrolling to attend either of the campuses. READ MORE
MSUD Financial Aid Melt Project
Metropolitan State University of Denver’s Excel Program has positioned its counselors to reach out to cohort students who have applied to MSUD. Students are receiving a series of phone calls, texts and those who are reached will be supported to complete their financial aid files, participate in a Readiness Workshop that includes a job fair for on-campus work opportunities, and to attend orientation. Data was tracked along the spectrum of support with a final check to see how many students enrolled through September 2018.
ACEC and Goodwill Summer Bridge
The Adams County Education Consortium (ACEC) and GoodWill expanded their Summer Bridge program to serve 60 cohort students.
The Goodwill Adco Scholarship program directly addresses gaps in summer melt programming for incoming college students who would not otherwise receive this level of intensive service spanning from the summer prior to beginning college through to credential completion. This scholarship, summer support, and advising program provides a $1,000 scholarship, 6 hours of dedicated workshops and instructions on college and career readiness skills and success, and also builds a strong network of support through one-on-one intrusive advising with each student before their first day of college. Having these relationships in place has been strongly linked to post-secondary persistence and completion among underserved students.
Research shows that relationship building is critical to the success of any intrusive advising program and gaining students’ trust is key. Goodwill provides a reliable support network carrying students from high school all the way through to credential completion.
Mapleton Education Foundation
In addition to Intrusive Advising support, the Mapleton Education Foundation and Mapleton Public Schools have changed the way scholarship are awarded – a focus on awarding scholarships to students with the intention of closing their financial aid gap. This was coupled with coaching students to understand the overall cost of their post-secondary programs so that they could be proactive in working to cover their expenses through financial aid and scholarships.
In addition to coaching students, the foundation also reconfigured the way their scholarship committee awarded support. They intentionally focused on closing the financial aid gap for students who met their criteria.
Westminster Public Schools Foundation
The Westminster Public Schools Foundation (WPSF) recruits and retains 2 tiers of multi-year scholars, the Adams County Scholars (minimum 1010 SAT, Pell-eligible) and Peierls (3.4 GPA or lower, low income including DACA). Both cohorts receive 4-year scholarships. In addition, there are four other multi-year scholars. WPSF offers access to the Post-Secondary Advisor to supplement the ACEC and Goodwill Support program for Adams County Scholars. WPSF offers intrusive advising for Peierls Scholars and other multi-year scholars. Retention rates are at 92% for all cohorts.
This position annually supports 45 WPSF scholarship recipients and works with an additional 95 students.
WPSF offers a 1-day summer bridge program open to all scholars and interested seniors regardless of having received a WPSF scholarship.
The Post-Secondary Program Director offers high-touch, intrusive and individual and group coaching and essay editing, application support and practice interviews from the start of the scholarship opening to closing. WPSF conducts scholarship interviews to increase students’ soft skills so that even if they do not get a scholarship from WPSF, they have valuable feedback and practice to help them with future applications.
WPSF is building support for DACA students at the high school, and aim to keep DACA college students connected and updated with the latest information about their status. WPSF is looking at possibly opening up the Bridge Program to juniors as a college preparation tool prior to their senior year. WPSF is also looking at deeper connection between college students and the gifted and talented middle school group at Scott Carpenter Middle School, and at possible connecting college students to our Parent Engagement Program (PASS).
Horizon High School SOAR
The Horizon High School SOAR Program is working to decrease the number of students who are dropped from the SOAR program for ineligibility; these students are the students who need the support the most in order to successfully enroll in a post-secondary program after High School.