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Published 2/20/2004
Owens Community College and Bowsher High School Explore Student Success Through Educational Partnership

For many students, entering college is often an uphill struggle resulting in the need to improve upon basic academic skills. Owens Community College and Bowsher High School are forging a unique partnership to greatly decrease the necessity for remedial education, establishing a pilot program that will bridge the transition gap from high school to college.

Sponsored by the League for Innovation in the Community College, the new developmental education initiative is entitled The Bridge Partnership. Owens is one of 12 community colleges throughout the country, and the only higher educational institution in the state of Ohio, selected to participate in the pilot program.

The League for Innovation in the Community College was founded in 1968 to enhance community colleges through innovation, experimentation and institutional transformation. The organization's membership consists of 19 community colleges throughout the world. Dedicated to expanding access in higher education and improving student success, the league also has over 700 academic institutions affiliated with the organization.

The project's overall mission is to encourage collaborative relationships between community colleges and high schools, improving the likelihood that high school graduates will be fully prepared for college-level coursework upon graduation.

Serving as the College's project co-directors are Dr. Carol O'Shea, Professor of Developmental Education, and Julie Grabowski, Assistant Professor of Developmental Education.

According to O'Shea, The Bridge Partnership is one the most ambitious projects ever undertaken within developmental education. "Owens Community College is proud to be involved with a project that could have an enormous impact on the future of education in America," O'Shea said. "The Bridge Partnership places emphasis on preparing high school students for college, and not just graduation from high school."

As part of the one-year pilot program, Owens is meeting with Bowsher faculty and administrators to assess the academic competency levels of juniors enrolled at the school. The project's initial step was to have juniors take a college placement examination to determine their skill level in the areas of reading, writing and mathematics. Test results ascertained the extent to which Bowsher students were prepared for college-level coursework.

"Affording students the opportunity to take a college placement test early in their high school career will have a significant influence on their meeting the college- ready standard by the time they graduate from high school," O'Shea said. "With the placement results and follow-up discussions on curriculum, both Owens and Bowsher will know how to better prepare students for college."

Bowsher students demonstrating college-ready competencies will be awarded a College Competencies Certificate after having successfully completed testing within reading, writing and mathematics. High school students receiving the certificate will be eligible to enroll in college credit courses on admission to Owens without further testing.

In an effort to close curriculum and performance gaps between high school and college, Owens' O'Shea and Grabowski recently spoke to Bowsher juniors about ways to better prepare themselves for the next step in their educational career. Suggestions included taking more college preparatory courses during their senior year and improving upon study habits.

"We are very appreciative of the opportunity to work with Owens Community College," said Valerie Napieralski, Principal of Bowsher High School. "Owens is the first college or university to approach us with the idea of better preparing students for college. Our educational goals mirror each other. This program is a win- win partnership for both organizations."

Other academic institutions participating in nationwide pilot program are Sandhills Community College (North Carolina), Kentucky Community and Technical Colleges, Richland Community College (Texas), Baton Rouge Community College (Louisiana), Bossier Parish Community College (Louisiana), Palo Alto Community College (Texas), North Harris-Montgomery Community College District (Texas), Spoon River College (Illinois), Delgado Community College (Louisiana), Community College of Baltimore County (Maryland) and Community College of Rhode Island (Rhode Island).

"In the coming months, The Bridge Partnership will be expanding its efforts to include additional community colleges within the project," said O'Shea, who also serves on The Bridge Partnership Steering Committee. "Interested community colleges will apply for the right to participate in the project and award Certificates of College Competency."

Owens Community College is the fastest-growing higher educational institution in Ohio with 27 consecutive semesters of enrollment increases. On the Toledo-area and Findlay-area Campuses, Owens serves more than 44,000 credit and non-credit students making it the number one choice for Northwest Ohio college students. Owens is committed to providing small classes, personal attention and unmatched affordability. Owens Community College offers over 130 program areas in Agriculture, Business, Fine and Performing Arts, Health, Public Service, Skilled Trades, Industrial and Engineering Technologies. Owens students also can earn the first two years of a bachelor's degree with a smooth transfer to any area four-year college or university.


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