• St. Louis superintendent, foundation join to expand college opportunity

    December 04, 2014 6:05 am  •  By Elisa Crouch
    WASHINGTON • St. Louis schools Superintendent Kelvin Adams plans to join President Barack Obama and hundreds of educators today in announcing steps to help more students enter and graduate college.

    They will gather at the White House College Opportunity Day of Action where college presidents, school district leaders, nonprofits and businesses will be committing to work together in boosting college enrollment and reducing the need for remedial courses.

    In St. Louis, the school district and the St. Louis Public Schools Foundation will be working toward making a college degree a reachable goal for those who face the greatest obstacles in obtaining one: low-income and minority students.

    “As a region, it is now more clear than ever that all sectors need to come together to support the potential and pursuits of low-income, largely African-American students,” says a statement from St. Louis Public Schools.

    Those taking part in today’s summit were asked to make commitments in promoting college completion, creating partnerships around college readiness, investing in high school counselors and increasing the number of women and minority graduates in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

    “We all know the opportunities that exist in the STEM fields,” said Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education, in a conference call Wednesday. “We want to strengthen that pipeline and make sure that new surge of talent represents the great diversity of our nation.”

    Obama will announce what his administration will do to support these goals support, including announcing $10 million to help promote college completion and a $30 million AmeriCorps program that will improve low-income students’ access to college.

    In St. Louis, the district’s foundation has committed to placing a college specialist in every high school over the next three years. Those specialists will work with colleges, universities and technical schools, nonprofits and businesses to better position students for post-secondary success. The foundation will ensure that every high school junior or senior will tour at least one college campus. The district will push graduating seniors to fill out more than one college application.

    Other commitments from the district and foundation include designing a program to improve the transition to high school from middle schools, and increase financial aid applications and decrease remediation rates. The goals, according to St. Louis Public Schools, include:

    • Increasing post-secondary placements by 5 percent at schools with college specialists.

    • Increasing the percentage of students who enroll in four-year colleges by 10 percent at schools with college specialists.

    • Increasing the percentage of students who complete federal student aid applications so that all schools achieve at least 75 percent completion.

    • Increasing the percentage of students who submit at least one college or postsecondary application by February 1 prior to graduation.

    • Over the next three years, reducing by 20 percent the number of St. Louis Public Schools graduates who need to enroll in remedial math courses.

    • Increasing counselors’ knowledge of key topics that correlate to college persistence.