NJ’S COLLEGE ACCESS CHALLENGE GRANT: ‘Tools for College Access’
Phase One of Program Benefits 921 Students, Reducing Need for Remedial Education
College Readiness Now
The “College Readiness Now” program completed a pilot program in August 2014 and preparations are underway for a second round. This is a program is a partnership among the Office of the Secretary of Higher Education, the New Jersey Council of County Colleges (NJCCC), all 19 of New Jersey’s county and community colleges, and more than 60 New Jersey high schools.
The purpose of the “College Readiness Now” program is to support projects designed to get more students college ready by the time they graduate from high school. Each individual project involves a locally-designed collaboration among county and community colleges and area high schools that target and identify students who are not “college ready” through diagnostics and other measures provided by the local high school.
Once identified, the students are invited to participate in a transition or bridge course or courses designed to improve their academic, study and test-taking skills. The bridge course may be delivered by the college or by the high school; however, faculty from both institutions must provide guidance to the development and delivery of the instruction. At the end of the bridge course, the students’ skill levels will be reassessed to determine the success of each program.
At the conclusion of the initial phase of the program in September 2014, New Jersey’s 19 community colleges had engaged in college readiness partnerships with more than 60 high schools throughout the state. After testing over 4,055 high school juniors and seniors, the colleges enrolled 921 students in spring and summer bridge programs designed to help the student improve their English and math skills while still in high school. As a result, 440 students achieved college ready status in English and/or mathematics upon successful completion of the program. In addition, it is estimated that the other 481 students reduced their need for remedial education by moving up the developmental education sequence, thus reducing the number of remedial courses they need to take to become college ready. This saved their families hundreds of dollars and reduced their time to degree completion. Students at some of the pilot programs were also able to participate in free dual-enrollment opportunities to earn college-credit prior to graduating high schools, and all students who participated in the initiative were given an opportunity to interact with college faculty for the first time, learn how to navigate the college admissions process, study on campuses and meet their peers from other local high schools in their districts.
The Office of the Secretary of Higher Education, NJCCC and 16 county colleges have partnered to design and implement the next phase of “College Readiness Now.” NJCCC released a solicitation for proposals to the colleges on May 1, 2015 and the program’s activities began in the spring of 2015 and will run through the summer of 2016.