For Immediate Release
Innovative Partnership leads to Free Semester at Evergreen Valley College
In a bold move, Evergreen Valley College is offering a semester of free tuition to students who successfully pass Algebra I and CAHSEE Math or the equivalent while they’re still in the eighth grade. It’s an innovative partnership between EVC and the Franklin-McKinley School District (FMSD) to build on the strong math skills of these middle school students. Having passed the math portion, FMSD students, 70% of whom are learning English as a second language, would be free to concentrate on their CAHSEE English exit exams when they get to high school.
EVC President Dr. David Wain Coon feels this enterprising approach helps more students prepare for higher education. " Because we believe in embracing every learner’s intrinsic experience and talent, emphasizing the middle schoolers’ math skills makes absolute sense for EVC. By the time they graduate from high school, these students will be ready for college-level Math and English courses, paving the way for transfer to a baccalaureate institution or for career education.”
Dr. John Porter, Jr., Superintendent of the Franklin-McKinley School District, couldn’t have envisioned a better outcome for his brainchild: “To place attention on the strengths of a community is to uplift them. If mastering math is more attainable than the mastery of language arts for our students, why not raise the standard of math education?” Dr. Porter intends to have students in Algebra I by the time they are in 8th grade, and then to take the CAHSEE.
“There is no other program like this on the West Coast,” Chancellor Rosa G. Perez of the San José/Evergreen Community College District said, “We were recently approached by the Early College High School initiative funded by the Gates Foundation with an interest in supporting the development of this first ever program. I am very grateful to President Coon for the vision and courage to show leadership in San Jose and in the State of California.”
In order to get permission from the State of California, Assembly member Joe Coto presented bill AB 144 to the Senate to allow FMSD 8th grade pupils to take the math portion of the CAHSEE. The Senate Committee has already passed AB 144, and the bill is currently awaiting Governor Schwarzenegger’s signature.
Other key partners in the endeavor are The Noyce Foundation and the San Jose Education Foundation. David Foster, Program Director of Mathematics at the Noyce Foundation, whose job it is to develop course materials and coach teachers for program success, supports EVC’s decision to offer a free semester of tuition for successful students. “Incentives are intrinsic for the young students; in knowing that they are smart and successful,” says Noyce, “Their ultimate goal is higher education.”
The San Jose Education Foundation’s Muhammad Chaudhry agrees. “This is a great example of things we can do to inspire tomorrow’s innovators.” SJEF finds sponsors in the business community to provide support for educational programs like this one.
Parents and teachers at FMSD are dedicated to making the program a success. The parent of one student who brought her C-grade in math up to an A in just one year, felt her daughter’s dramatic improvement was largely due to the extra time she spent with tutors and in after-school programs. Rudy Duran, who teaches 8th grade Geometry at Fair Middle School, feels that students try harder when teachers put in extra effort. “They always turn their homework in on time, they’re in class everyday and they work hard…Offering a free semester at community college is a huge incentive for higher education.”
This progressive math program gives FMSD students a lot to look forward to in terms of college acceptance and fulfilling career opportunities. Math literacy may persuade some students to study engineering and hard sciences, which will bear fruit in the Silicon Valley, a job market with a dearth of locally hired engineers.
The EVC-FMSD Partnership is also supported by the San Jose/Evergreen Valley Community College District, East Side Union High School District, San Jose State University College of Education, San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed, Councilmember Madison Nguyen, Applied Materials, Franklin-McKinley Education Association (CTA), National Hispanic University, American Electronics Association, Silicon Valley Leadership Group and the American Federation of Teachers, Local 6157.
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ABOUT Evergreen Valley College
With student learning as its primary focus, Evergreen Valley College’s mission is to empower students to expand their human potential and to succeed in a global, multicultural society. The College, which sits on a picturesque 175-acre site in the eastern foothills of San Jose, provides access to comprehensive and flexible post-secondary education to prepare students of all ages and backgrounds for balanced and productive lives and to improve the workforce and quality of life in our community.
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