U.S. Director of GEAR UP Lynn Mahaffie is joining more than 200 Oklahoma higher education leaders and public school educators in Tulsa today as they gather to learn more about college readiness and academic preparation during Oklahoma’s fourth annual Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) State Conference.
Mahaffie is slated to speak during the conference’s closing general session at 2:15 p.m. in the Orange/Monterey Rooms of the Warren Place DoubleTree Hotel, 6110 S. Yale Ave. She will be joined by Scott Frein, government relations associate from the National Council for Community and Education Partnerships (NCCEP), an organization committed to creating and sustaining educational partnerships to promote student achievement and increase access to postsecondary education for all students. Mahaffie and Frein are expected to discuss national education legislation.
The GEAR UP conference is designed to help participants learn innovative approaches for student and program success. In addition, it serves as a forum for discussion of specific strategies local schools can use to help students achieve their potential through the GEAR UP initiative.
Throughout the day, concurrent sessions will be held covering a variety of issues designed to strengthen and support the 120 district-level GEAR UP programs. Topics include: building success in science and math; using student portfolios to promote academic achievement; using arts education to enhance college preparation; minority student outreach and success; building hovercrafts to teach science and math; and creating a successful mentoring program.
Other sessions will explore: how parent expectations affect student achievement; facilitating student reading programs; high school and college faculty working together to strengthen curriculum; improving ACT scores; successful strategies in an urban school district; summer programs; helping students make the transition from middle school to high school; making an impact on Native American student scholarships; and student-to-student tutoring programs.
GEAR UP, a federal program administered by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, is designed to help middle and high school students better prepare for college. In August 1999, the U.S. Department of Education awarded Oklahoma a five-year grant totaling $20.5 million to implement GEAR UP activities across the state, including scholarships, academic preparation programs and college awareness activities for students and their parents.
Additionally, 11 Oklahoma school districts and four Oklahoma colleges have received more than $36.2 million in partnership grants over five years to expand statewide preparation activities locally.
Throughout the past four years, GEAR UP has helped Oklahoma schools move aggressively in expanding the range of programs and services offered to upper elementary, middle and high school students to better prepare them for college.
GEAR UP provides Oklahoma public schools support that helps district-level educators and administrators better assess their needs in curriculum, professional development and parental involvement, as well as implement strategies to improve performance in these areas that are commonly problematic.
“Oklahoma higher education is continually working to support K-12 schools’ efforts in educating and producing college-ready students,” Chancellor Paul Risser said. “In addition, we are vigorously seeking community, business and federal partnerships to aid our efforts. By working together, we can create pathways for more students to accomplish their educational and professional goals.”
The U.S. Department of Education awarded Oklahoma with a state GEAR UP grant totaling $20.5 million in August 1999. The grant has been matched by more than $25 million from state and partner resources. With funds totaling $45.5 million, GEAR UP receives 45 percent of total funding from the federal government and 55 percent from other organizations.