(August 3, 2010) Clearly, our nation needs many more students to attend college and graduate, but several things are getting in the way, particularly students who are minority or economically disadvantaged.
Nilka Avilés, Ed.D., an IDRA senior education associate, tells us about her experience with an effort that built relationships between high schools and a local university to remove barriers of school-level low expectations, student academic preparation and college-level instruction. She describes the practical supports that were provided to the minority and low-income students and their families that led to their success. Nilka is interviewed by Aurelio Montemayor, M.Ed., director of the IDRA Texas Parent Information and Resource Center. Send comments to
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* Nilka explains how the students she worked with had to overcome poor academic training and the expectations from teachers and administrators in their schools that they wouldn't make it to college.
* Nilka describes how she recruited and supported students for her project: building relationships, providing information about going to college, providing access to a college culture, and building study skills.
* Nilka talks about working to change teachers' perceptions of the students, particularly at the university level.
* Nilka offers the example of one professor who created a more student-centered approach for the high school students.
* Nilka discusses the impact of building a college-going culture from the time the students entered high school.
* Nilka shares the story of a high school student who was considered a slow learner, but who persisted and graduated high school with 48 college credit hours.
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