The Obama administration put the spotlight Thursday on helping more low-income students go to college, and three Washington state college presidents were among the invited guests who shared lessons from their campuses.
Amy Goings, president of Kirkland’s Lake Washington Institute of Technology (LWIT), discussed the way the college — one of the state’s 34 public community and technical colleges — has redesigned developmental courses to make them more relevant to students, based on the career path they’re pursuing.
Developmental courses are sometimes called remedial courses because they are taken by students who don’t have the skills yet to do college-level work
An example of how LWIT has redesigned a course to make it more relevant: In the auto repair technician program, a math instructor teaches math skills by using problems drawn right from the shop floor — the kinds that students will have to solve routinely as auto technicians. “He (the instructor) even shies away from the term ‘math,’” she said.
Goings said she found two statistics presented during the summit to be jaw-dropping: That only nine percent of children born into families in the lowest income quartile ever attain a bachelor’s degree, and that 93 million Americans lack basic literacy skills.
University of Puget Sound President Ronald Thomas, who also attended the summit, unveiled a program that will pay the full college costs for students admitted to UPS who have participated in a middle and high school mentoring program offered by the college. UPS is a private school based in Tacoma.
Access Programs are run in partnership with Tacoma public schools, and provide mentoring and tutoring for hundreds of low-income Tacoma middle and high school students. Beginning this fall, UPS aims to enroll up to 10 new Access students into the college each year, for an eventual enrollment of between 20 and 40 students. UPS will provide enough grants and scholarships to cover the full cost of college for all of those students selected.
Tacoma Community College President Pamela Transue also attended the summit, but could not be reached for comment.