May 14, 2003

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Eighth graders make great college students

OCCC Pathwasy Students
(L to R) Ninth graders Dawn Bates, Jessica Seymour, Araceli Rodriguez and Brandon Green discuss their assignment. These Pathways Middle College High School students attend class on the Oklahoma City Community College campus. The program is made possible through a partnership between the Oklahoma City Public School District and Oklahoma City Community College.

What happens when low income, first generation college-bound students with reasonably good test scores, but poor attendance and/or poor grades, enter an innovative partnership program school that sets high standards and offers plenty of support?

If the school is the Pathways Middle College High School on the Oklahoma City Community College campus, they thrive.

The 2001-2002 Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS) core score for these Oklahoma City Public School students was 52, between 18 and 33 points higher than any of the four middle schools and two high schools from which the program draws its students. Students scored up to 2.5 grade levels higher at the end of their first year in every core academic area with their biggest improvement in math.

The Pathways Middle College High School baseline Academic Performance Index (API) score is 817, between 98 and 379 points higher than any of the middle and high schools from which the program draws its students.

"These results show that our students are doing very well and that the program is making excellent progress toward achieving state standards," said Carol Brogan, Pathways program administrator.

Students in the program attend a slimmed down list of required courses designed to prepare them for college and at the same time help them to qualify for Oklahoma Higher Learning Access Program scholarships. ACT preparation, career and college exploration and planning, lab science in a new college facility, research in the college library, community service and numerous enrichment opportunities abound. But do they make up for missing activities?

Frank Tanner, a tenth grader who has been in the program since its doors opened in January 2001, said he does sometimes miss proms, football, and all the other regular high school extracurricular activities.

"The college environment and the opportunity to do college courses for high school and college credit compensate for all that. I play indoor soccer on my own, so that helps. Pathways isn't for everyone. You have to be serious about going to college."

Diversity within the program is broader than at any of the individual schools from which the program draws its students. The student population as a whole is 54 percent minority. Twenty-five percent of the students self identify as Hispanic American, 16 percent as African American, two percent as Asian American, 11 percent as Native American and 45 percent as Caucasian. Males represent 31 percent of the program's student population and 69 percent are female.

Seven tenth grade students have qualified for enrollment in college-level classes, earning both high school and college credit as juniors next fall. The remaining tenth graders are preparing to take a second ACT Residual exam in hopes of qualifying for college classes in the fall.

Openings are available for qualified juniors and in grades eighth and tenth. For more information about the program, call Brogan at 405-682-7840.