Above: Instructor Wayne Cabral, center, discusses Political Science assignments with Washington County high School students Kayla Convery, left, and Shawnda Hood, right, as part of St. Catharine College's Early College program at WCHS.
In a statement released by the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education, St. Catharine College was named as part of a three-year grant totaling $720,000 from Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors to improve college readiness. A featured activity within this award is a $120,000 grant to SCC to continue their collaboration with the Washington County Commander College program. Kentucky was one of 10 states selected to participate in the overall grant. St. Catharine College is one of three Kentucky higher education institutions who will benefit from the overall award.
SCC partnered with the Washington County School District and Elizabethtown Community and Technical College to establish Washington County Commander College. This program provides junior and senior high students the opportunity to gain postsecondary coursework prior to their graduation from high school with the option of earning an associate's degree or various industry certifications. There are currently25 juniors participating in the program at Washington County High School.
"We are so thankful to be a part of this grant because it means continued growth and success for our students," said Robin Cochran, Superintendent of the Washington County School District. "Commander College is a huge success and to know that our early college students can have that momentum into college is crucial. It helps them transition into a college setting and the goal is to allow them to finish high school with an associate's degree, thus letting them graduate from college sooner and enter the workforce with marketable skills. It's hard to find a job these days, so we're all for doing anything we can to give our students an advantage."
St. Catharine College President William D. Huston also praised the program, which allows SCC instructors to teach at WCHS and allow WCHS students to attend class on SCC's campus.
"This is just another shining example of how St. Catharine is reaching into the community to provide a quality education to our young people," he said. "It's an idea whose time has come and we are proud to be one of the few institutions to offer such a program. I can't thank Robin Cochran and (WC Director of Instruction) Cherry Boyles enough for their hard work in putting everything together. We had high hopes for this program and to know that it is going to continue shows that we are on the right track."
The grant program, called Core to College: Preparing Students for College Readiness and Success, aims to foster long-term collaborations between state higher education and P-12 entities that will improve student achievement and college readiness. The focus is on using the Common Core State Standards and assessments to establish a statewide definition of college readiness and a set of college readiness indicators to signal a student's preparedness for credit-bearing college courses. Having such a baseline will also inform processes to transition students successfully between high school and higher education environments.
"Kentucky's grant activities will build on the tremendous momentum already under way with P-12 and postsecondary education," said Council President Bob King. "Thanks to Senate Bill 1 in 2009 and the one-time funding we received for implementation, Kentucky is leading the nation with our collaborative work to improve college readiness and ultimately, increased rates of enrollment and graduation necessary to build a more highly skilled workforce. This grant will bolster our efforts as we continue this important work."
Kentucky was chosen based on geographic diversity, assessment consortia membership and demonstrated capacity to undertake this work, including existing collaborations and project plans aligned with the goals of Core to College.