By Adriana F. De Leon
San Antonio College has received a $1 million grant of which $250,000 will be disbursed per year over a four-year period from the U.S. Department of Education for the evening, weekend and distance education division for a new Upward Bound Program.
The program will offer instruction and support services for low-income high school students to help prepare them for higher education.
The program will be selecting 50 freshman students from Fox Tech High School.
Eligible students are low-income, at-risk and first-generation, Dean Ruben Flores of the evening, weekend and distance education division said.
“These are not your top 10 percent. These are your low B and C students,” he said.
Selecting students during their freshman year and mentoring them throughout the four years will help the student stay in school and graduate, he said.
Another criteria students have to meet is based on TAKS scores higher than 2,100, Carlos Garza, assistant principal for Fox Tech High School, said.
“Basically, bubble kids. Now that is basically students that are ninth graders that looking at their TAKS scores whether barely passing by two to four questions or the other-side-of-the-spectrum students that barely failed it by two to four questions, so I was looking at that and by looking at that, I went on and ranked them based on their TAKS scores,” he said.
The Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills, commonly known as TAKS test, is a statewide curriculum to assist students’ attainment of reading, writing, math, science and social studies skills developed by the Texas Education Agency.
Fox Tech High School had an information meeting Wednesday to inform parents about the new program.
“We need the parents’ support to push the students,” he said.
The biggest support will be from parents because they can encourage their children.
Students who were so close in passing but were not able to can benefit from this program.
“We are trying to get students that have a potential to improve their skills, so they can be college ready by the time they’re seniors,” Nick Silva, co-director of the evening, weekend and distance education division, said.
The program will guide and tutor each student, teaching them that education is important and, most important, teaching them that they can succeed, Flores said.
“We want to work with them for four years in order to enable them to become college ready by the time they graduate,” he said.
The greatest dropout rate is during the ninth grade, and this program can change that, he said.
“The dropout rate for Hispanic enrollment is like between 45 and 48 percent. It’s very high and so what we’re trying to do is work with each student early enough to make sure that they are going to be prepared,” he said.
The goal of the program is to help high school students pursue a higher education to succeed and obtain a professional career.
“Everything involves around an education,” he said.