Archive | September 2013

Capital One Grants APIE $10,000

Capital One has pledged a $10,000 grant to support APIE’s Adopt-a-School Partner Portal (APP). APIE introduced the APP in 2012 in response to the growing number of AISD school needs for supplies and other resources.

APP is an online vehicle that enables schools to communicate their needs to the public. Through the APP, the community is able to access and review schools’ Wish Lists and determine if they can help meet those needs. The APP uses technology to connect the community to all AISD schools, improving their chance of obtaining the resources they need.

Thanks to Capital One for helping AISD schools and students!

Interested in browsing schools’ needs? Visit our APP!

September Volunteer Coffee

APIE All-Volunteer CoffeeOur next volunteer coffee is coming right up!

Save the date for this Saturday, Sept. 21. We’ll be on the patio at Central Market North from 9 to 10 a.m.

The theme this month is recruitment! Bring a family member, friend, or colleague who may be interested in volunteering with us. They can hear about the experience from current volunteers and speak directly with APIE staff about questions, concerns, and interests.

We’ll see you and your friends Saturday morning!

What it Means to be College Ready

In the fall of 2003, the Texas Success Initiative (TSI) went into effect.  This state mandate requires that Texas public institutions of higher education “assess the academic skills of each entering undergraduate student to determine the student’s readiness to enroll in freshman-level academics.”  Students must meet college readiness standards in reading, writing, and math. Students who are not deemed college ready are required to take developmental courses.

Our College Readiness program aims to increase the number of students in AISD who graduate college ready as defined by the TSI. A student can be classified as college ready utilizing scores from exit-level TAKS, ACT, SAT, and previously through end-of-course exams that are no longer required because of the passage of House Bill 5. Additionally, all Texas public institutions of higher education utilize a new test called the TSI Assessment to determine college readiness.

We target students who are eligible to graduate but not yet considered college ready. Because they are considered ready to graduate, these students do not generally receive intervention from their high schools, whose energy is focused on ensuring all students are ready to graduate.

Without APIE’s intervention, these students would be placed into developmental courses upon entering college. While these cost the same as any other college class, these classes are non-credit bearing. Developmental courses are time consuming, expensive, and a leading reason that students – particularly those who are economically disadvantaged – decide not to enroll in college or withdraw without receiving a degree.

To help students achieve college readiness and remove this barrier, APIE provides targeted academic support on a Case Management basis to these Tier 2 students. College Readiness Advocates meet for 30-60 minutes each week one-on-one with each student to advise, tutor, and encourage them.

College Readiness

College Readiness students with their EZCORP scholarship certificates

Since APIE introduced its Case Management model, student success rates have grown exponentially. In the first year, 14.4% of the students enrolled in APIE’s College Readiness program passed the state-mandated standards for college readiness; this past year, 47% of the 413 students fully closed their achievement gaps and an additional 13% reduced their need for developmental coursework in college.

During the 2013-14 school year, APIE is implementing its College Readiness program at 10 of AISD’s 12 high schools and has set a goal of case managing about 400 students and getting 300 fully college ready.

The program is underway, and we’re looking forward to a challenging, successful year!

One Professor’s Experience as a Mentor and Classroom Coach

Mentor and Classroom Coach Robin SmithAs a professor of Social Work at the University of Texas, Robin Smith is dedicated to reducing the achievement gap. She has volunteered with APIE for four years as both a mentor and a reading Classroom Coach, and she wants to return each year as long as she can.

Initially, feelings of obligation pushed Smith to volunteer. After a mother looked her in the eye and told her she’d be a good mentor, she felt as though she should or even had to volunteer. “With my social work background, I thought I would have something to offer a child,” Smith says.

“When I found out more about the commitment I thought it was something very do-able,” Smith says. And she has found it to be a very rewarding, positive experience.

Mentoring

As a mentor, Smith worked to create a relationship with her mentee, building her up and acting as a role model. “The whole experience was about learning to interact with a kid who really wasn’t very social or enthused about the whole arrangement,” Smith says.

Smith took the little girl to the university open house, Explore UT, one year. “It really made an impression on her and she seemed to love it. I think it’s a great way to expose kids who don’t know a lot about college to the college experience.”

Classroom Coaching

Smith found the mentoring and Classroom Coaching experiences “like two different social animals” but both extremely positive. As a mentor, Smith worked one-on-one with a girl, discussing social pursuits. As a Classroom Coach, she entered the classroom with a group of adults to tackle academic hurdles and goals.

The energy in the classroom is something Smith finds contagious. “The girls are lively and engaged, and their reading skills have improved,” Smith says. “It’s a lot of fun.”

Although she saw definite improvement, Smith says there were also definite challenges. Last year, it was clear to her that one girl was dealing with depression due to nonacademic obstacles. “I wanted to use my social work skills to bring some understanding to her situation.”

Smith says that reading may have been the least of her worries, but she also knew she could do only so much since Smith was not the student’s social worker.

“I think what makes an impact is when you come to a child’s class every week, and they know you’re not going away.”

Although initially she questioned whether she should push the kid who clearly had other worries, given that she came into class just once a week, eventually Smith decided that even a withdrawn child needs some boundaries. Those help establish and maintain a relationship, Smith says.

If she could leave her students with one message, Smith would tell them to try to go to college. “I know that can be hard, but don’t give up on the idea. [They’re] definitely college material…” she says. “I want them to know they’re smart, worthy, and to continue getting their education.”

Connection to APIE

Not all organizations that use volunteers are so well-organized, Smith says. “There’s just a real positive feel about APIE that I like.” Smith has previously connected APIE to the Social Work undergraduate program director and continues to go into classes to promote its programs.

It’s so nice to have an organization like APIE in the community, Smith says. “I’ve learned a lot about teaching and have personally been enhanced by this experience” with APIE, Smith says. “It is a privilege to be a Classroom Coach.”