Prepare2Nspire2 awarded two-year College Ready grant to boost high school math instruction

The University of Minnesota was one of nine colleges and community-based organizations that received a 2015-17 College Ready grant from Great Lakes Higher Education Guaranty Corporation. Nearly $528,000 will fund two full years of rigorous mathematics tutoring/mentoring for a cohort of 100 Minneapolis area high school students who are entering their junior year.

“The lack of academic preparation among college freshmen is a persistent problem we are determined to address,” said Richard D. George, Great Lakes president and chief executive officer. “The goal of our new College Ready grant is to learn whether and how an additional year of support and instruction can move even more students closer to college readiness—before they arrive on campus.”

Prepare2Nspire2 is an innovative, cascading, multi-grade mathematics tutoring and mentoring opportunity that includes advanced algebra, pre-calculus, and calculus. As University undergraduate students are tutoring and mentoring eleventh-grade algebra 2 students in the program, the eleventh-grade cohort is tutoring and mentoring eighth-grade algebra students.

Lesa Clarkson

Dr. Lesa Covington Clarkson, associate professor of mathematics education in the University’s College of Education and Human Development, has a history of working with diverse populations at urban schools in the Twin Cities.

“Too often, underrepresented students aren’t served in our urban classrooms,” she said, “This program will provide additional time and tools to support students in their mathematics learning.”

Every student profits from this model, according to Clarkson. Undergraduate and eleventh-grade tutors are developing mathematics communication and reasoning skills as they explain content in which they are recently engaged, and at the same time they are developing roots in mathematics that are fundamental to their current study. High school and middle school participants are receiving individualized tutoring and mentoring services designed to meet their unique challenges in the mathematics content studied. Simultaneously, grade-level skills will be continually addressed through mini lessons at weekly meetings.

Great Lakes’ two-year College Ready grants, totaling $4.2 million, were awarded to nine colleges and community-based organizations in Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin through 2017. Their established programs will expand to help more than 800 high school students reach college readiness benchmarks on the ACT or ACCUPLACER tests.