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ECC faculty and staff gather for annual Alliance for College Readiness meeting

With minor exceptions, high school graduates from District 509 are entering college more well equipped in areas such as math, reading and English. 
Source: ECC Institutional Research

With minor exceptions, high school graduates from District 509 are entering college more well equipped in areas such as math, reading and English. Source: ECC Institutional Research

Arturo Chuatz, Executive Editor

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On Thursday, Feb. 21, members of the Alliance for College Readiness, which consists of several Elgin Community College staff and faculty members, met in Building E to discuss notable highlights of the Illinois Postsecondary Workforce Act (PWR) as well as reviewing progress made by the organization. The discussion was primarily led by Jonathan Fur, keynote speaker and executive director of Education Systems Center and Northern Illinois University as well as Mary Perkins, who acts as the Dean of College Transitions and Developmental Education at ECC.

The Alliance for College Readiness resulted from the partnership between ECC and the surrounding public schools within the community college district. Their goal is to ensure that graduating high school students from the area are prepared for the college-level courses offered at colleges like ECC as well as giving them the tools to succeed beyond high school.

Mary Perkins, who serves as the administrative leader for the Division of College Transitions and Developmental  Education, which houses many of the early college experiences and college readiness programs provided by ECC, said that academic and career readiness for District 509 students is the main driving force for the Alliance.

“The Alliance for College Readiness seeks to increase college and career readiness and post-secondary success for all District 509 students,” Perkins said. “Through cross-sector collaboration, Alliance members implement evidence-based strategies, professional development and programming that elevates education levels across all communities.”

On the other hand, the Illinois Postsecondary Workforce Act (PWR) was a piece of legislation “signed into law in 2016 [which] takes a student-based and competency-based approach to helping students achieve college and career readiness,” according to Advance Illinois, an Illinois nonpartisan group that focuses on education policy.

When combined, both entities have the end goal to create a process which provides future community college students with better opportunities and greater access to resources, such as advising and internships, that are relevant to their career goals and interests.

Fur noted that one of the chief pillars for career-readiness and success is the access to internships early on in the student’s career.

“We want more of our students to come out with internships relevant to their interests and career aspirations,” Fur said.

Perkins said that in order to ensure a greater percentage of success, the students had to be given a structure which allows an easier transition throughout their secondary and post-secondary career.

“[We] need a stackable structure that allows students to move through the process,” Perkins said.

Notable highlights from both the Alliance and Fur was the preparedness of incoming ECC students relative to prior generations. On average, ECC students are becoming marginally more well-equipped for college-level English, reading and math, with the exception of the 2017 graduating high school class.

With future meetings in the books for the Alliance for College Readiness, and an ever-increasing need for amending school curriculums to properly prepare students for higher education, we can expect the future generations at ECC to continually receive a great value-for-money education centered on their interests earlier in their educational career.

About the Writer
Arturo Chuatz, Staff Writer

I'm studying accounting and economics. I've been at ECC for a little over two years now, with this being my last semester here. I decided to join The Observer...

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ECC faculty and staff gather for annual Alliance for College Readiness meeting