CBC plans to help high school students get to college

Ty Beaver, Tri-City HeraldOctober 15, 2013 

Columbia Basin College officials plan to reach out to Mid-Columbia school districts in an attempt to make sure high school seniors are ready for higher education after they graduate.

Some members of the CBC board this week said that they are disturbed by the trend of high school graduates needing remedial courses, particularly in math, when they arrived at college.

Chairman David L. "Duke" Mitchell said working more closely with the districts could bring a better understanding of what students need to be ready after graduation.

"All of us feel we've got to do something with our K-12 students coming in," he said at this week's board meeting.

Mitchell and board members Sherry Armijo and Kedrich Jackson recently attended a conference of the Association for Community College Trustees in Seattle. The event featured presentations from community colleges nationwide on their best practices.

Armijo said many of the ideas already are in effect at CBC, such as the CBC High School Academy and a student service center such as Hawk Central.

"We are at the forefront," she said.

However, CBC also has an unfortunate trend in common with most community colleges: a large number of students needing remedial classes.

Three out of four degree-seeking CBC students need to take at least one remedial course before they can take a college-level courses. More than half of the college's students aren't ready for college-level math when they enroll.

"The math issues our students are having aren't just here," Armijo said.

The board members said they were impressed by a presentation given by the San Diego Community College District, which has improved math readiness in its students.

Jackson said he and other board members have met with some of the Mid-Columbia school superintendents. He said his impression is that not all of them have set clear objectives for instruction.

"My motivation is preparing students as best as possible regardless of where they go," he said.

Mitchell said there were past attempts to work with the districts and there could be hurdles to trying to do so now. School districts are in the midst of implementing the Common Core State Standards -- new math and language arts benchmarks, and preparing for the new standardized tests designed around them. State education officials also recently announced the adoption of the Next Generations Science Standards, which will require districts also to adjust curriculum.

"There's a lot of stuff being thrown at the K-12 schools," Mitchell said.

The board requested CBC President Rich Cummins set up a meeting with officials at the San Diego college to get ideas about how to work with school districts.

-- Ty Beaver: 509-582-1402; tbeaver@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @_tybeaver

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