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Great Lakes Commits $4.2 Million to Prepare More Students for College Math & English

New Two-Year Grants Will Expand Nine Programs Experienced in Increasing Academic Readiness

— Being prepared to pass gateway math and English classes is especially crucial for college students to earn their degrees. But more and more students are arriving on campus without these essential skills, and many never make it past their first year.

Great Lakes Higher Education Guaranty Corporation is determined to address this persistent problem. Since 2012, its College Ready grants have supported academic programming to prepare more high school students for college-level courses. A recent evaluation of data collected from previous grantees has pointed to new findings. First, one year of supplemental academic instruction is not enough for many at-risk students to reach college readiness benchmarks on standardized tests like the ACT. Second, programs that serve a broad spectrum of students with varying levels of academic need are less likely to move critical numbers to college-ready standards.

Great Lakes incorporated these lessons learned into its latest College Ready grant opportunity, which now allows for two full years of extracurricular instruction and support services to meet the needs of students on the cusp of college readiness. Established readiness programs operated by nine colleges and community-based organizations in Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin will receive $4.2 million through 2017. They will identify more than 800 high school students who enter their junior year testing below but within striking distance of reaching math and literacy benchmarks on ACT, ACCUPLACER or Compass tests.

Students who don't score at the benchmarks are considered unprepared for college-level work, and are required to take developmental (or remedial) education courses that intend to catch them up, but also add time, cost and social stigma. All too often, these students never get to college-level courses or earn their degrees. Those who drop out can face a loss of self-worth, limited job prospects, and a burden of student debt to repay without the increased earning potential a degree can provide.

"One of the most daunting barriers to college completion is 'the leaking pipeline' of developmental education," says Richard D. George, President and Chief Executive Officer of Great Lakes. "The goal of our College Ready grant is to learn whether and how two full years of extra support and instruction can move even more students closer to college readiness—before they arrive on campus. Doing so will do more than allow these students to bypass developmental education; it will prepare them to successfully tackle the math and English classes needed for their degrees."

Meet our 2015-2017 College Ready Grant Recipients »

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