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Posted on December 4, 2014

College In the News What's New

SLI invited to White House Summit

WestEd, at White House Summit, Commits to Improving Retention and Graduation of STEM Students in California Community Colleges

WestEd’s work in the area of improving the retention and graduation rates of community college STEM students will be represented by WestEd CEO Glen Harvey at a White House Office of Science and Technology-sponsored event today. WestEd’s Strategic Literacy Initiative (SLI) received an invitation to the College Opportunity Day of Action as a result of its commitment to provide professional development and an instructional framework. SLI’s work in this area will reach 1,150 California community college STEM faculty teams and 163,200 community college STEM students from underrepresented populations by 2017. WestEd is partnering with 16 California community colleges to complete this work via the Reading Apprenticeship Community College STEM Network, made possible through generous funding from The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust.

WestEd has made this commitment to improving graduation rates in the area of STEM education:

Goal

WestEd’s Strategic Literacy Initiative, with funding from The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, has committed to improve retention and graduation rates of 163,200 community college STEM students from underrepresented populations by 2017.

Action Plan

SLI will provide online and face-to-face professional development in the research-based Reading Apprenticeship instructional framework to 1,150 California community college STEM faculty teams from 16 campuses. The work will give the teams the knowledge, practice, and networks to achieve this ambitious goal.

Significant research indicates that an “integration” approach to contextualizing academic skills within disciplinary content classes shows the most promise for students’ access to STEM (and other academically challenging) content material. Faculty who learn to implement a Reading Apprenticeship approach in STEM introductory classes and beyond learn to model discipline-specific literacy skills by “making their thinking visible” with the challenging texts of their own disciplines. In this way, faculty help students actively engage as readers in discipline-specific problem solving, gaining confidence in their ability to do so. This kind of independent active learning enables students to identify as capable readers and students in STEM and gives them the confidence and desire necessary to continue in their chosen fields.

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