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EDUCATION: Federal program has shown its value

Letter by Patrick Kelly, Tacoma on May 23, 2013 at 2:01 pm with No Comments »
May 24, 2013 11:21 am

Re: “Efforts boost college success for low-income and minority students” (Katie Baird column, 5-23).

While complimenting worthy programs like the College Success Foundation and Palmer Scholars, Baird’s column unfortunately is misleading when discussing the effectiveness of federal college-access programs like TRIO and GEAR UP.

Baird refers to a recent policy brief, “Time for a Change: A New Federal Strategy to Prepare Disadvantaged Students for College,” which cites a Mathematica Policy study that has been disavowed as “seriously flawed” by the very Department of Education staff assigned to monitor it.

TRIO has been a vital part of college access and success for low-income students throughout Washington state. CSF has leveraged its investment in students by partnering with TRIO and GEAR UP programs locally. In fact, CSF’s director of College & Alumni Services serves on the regional TRIO board to strengthen this partnership.

If Baird truly wants to see the effectiveness of TRIO programs in Tacoma, I invite her to look no further than her backyard. The University of Washington Tacoma has a partnership with a federal TRIO Talent Search grant serving 1,100 students in Tacoma and Bethel schools. Since inception in 2001, more than 90 percent of students in this program have graduated from high school and more than 70 percent have gone on to college.

I hope she would reconsider her stance on their future based on biased and faulty data in the Mathematica study. With the support of these programs, students for whom college was just a dream overcome obstacles to pursue a college education and achieve their full potential.

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