This article first appeared in the Post Independent. By Will Grandbois.
Eliminating the need for remediation isn’t specifically covered in the goals outlined in CMC’s 2014-2018 “Reaching New Heights” strategic plan, but it has big implications for student and teacher success and the long-term economy of the area.
Projections indicate that nearly three-quarters of Colorado jobs will require a postsecondary education by 2020, but only one in four native high school graduates completes an associate or bachelor’s within six years. Right now, the state benefits from an influx of well-educated newcomers, but it’s not a sustainable long-term model.
“We’ve got to mine our own raw material to bridge the gap of all of those jobs that need to be filled with college educated students,” Hauser said in an interview last week with the Post Independent.
CMC is already doing a great deal to make a secondary education accessible to teens.
The school offers a score of associate programs and as many certificates,and is rolling out new accredited bachelor’s degrees on an almost annual basis.
Fueled by property tax and very little debt, the school is able to keep costs low. Tuition for a 30-credit-hour freshman year costs just $1,680 at CMC, half the $3,585 price tag at a Colorado Community College System school and far less than Fort Lewis ($5,232), Colorado Mesa ($6,438), or Colorado State University ($7,494). Under state law, community colleges accept anyone with a high school diploma, but Hauser envisions a day when that is underscored by a CMC admission letter for every high student graduate from Steamboat to Leadville.
Fixing the remediation gap, though, will take allies from K-12.
CMC is working school districts to offer remediation during high school, and Roaring Fork School District is already contemplating administering the Accuplacer tests in mid high school so students have a chance to assess their college preparedness early.
“Our goal is to have kids get on track and stay on track throughout their education,” said RFSD Superintendent Diana Sirko. “We see it as our job to make sure that they’re college ready.”
Sirko highlighted increased advanced-placement offerings, as well as concurrent enrollment programs with CMC and the University of Colorado, which help ease the transition and encourage students to take the next step.
Meanwhile, the district’s Pre-Collegiate program, which helps seventh- to 12th-graders whose parents didn’t go to college learn the ropes, could expand with a three-year grant from the University of Colorado.
The bottom line, Sirko said, is to never count anybody out.
“I believe that any student with the right support, determination, and hard work can accomplish something,” she said.
Hauser is determined to provide that support.
“We will measure it, we will track it, we will work at it, and we will make it happen,” she said.