BEND, OR -- A new multi-million dollar grant will help Central Oregon Community College develop new programs to help struggling students develop better math and writing skills. COCC's Ron Paradis tells KBND News, "One of the problems in higher education is taking students who aren’t quite ready for college level and getting them there. We’ve known that’s a problem for years, and unfortunately, with Oregon’s lack of funding for higher education it’s been difficult for us to institute some of these programs. So, this will allow us to do a lot of programs in the developmental writing and math area, and do other things to help transition students toward college level courses."
Paradis says nearly 85% of COCC students start classes below college level in writing or math, or both. The school’s wide age range within its student body magnifies the need. "It’s not only the 18-year-olds, but it’s also the 50-year-old that all of a sudden finds out that they’re out of work. And often, those are the ones who come in at the lowest level of skills," says Paradis. "We really noticed that during the recession, the number of students that came in their 40s and 50s who hadn’t taken a math class in 20 or 30 years and therefore tested in very low. It’s difficult for those students to take the year or two it takes just to get to college level."
The five-year, $2.25 million Title III grant is from the U.S. Department of Education. COCC also plans to use the funds to develop a first-year experience program to boost retention rates.