City College’s Express to Success Program (ESP) was awarded the title as the nation’s top program for increasing achievement for Latino students at the associate degree level on Sept. 30.
The goal of the program is to get students through their developmental classes quickly and better prepared so that they can begin taking the courses required for a degree or transfer.
Elected officials and higher education leaders from across the United States came together in Washington, D.C. to honor ESP. Among 217 programs from 26 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia, the ESP program at City College was selected.
“There are so many positive things about this program that it’s hard to single out any one thing,” said Director of ESP Kathy Malloy. “Our students are definitely at the top of the list, most are so motivated and committed that it’s really inspiring.”
Latino ESP students make the largest gains of all when compared to their peers. Last spring Latinos comprised 58 percent of the whole ESP and that course completion rates, and college persistence rates, far exceed the college average. ESP students completed two levels of accelerated Math or English at a 40 percent to over 50 percent higher rate than students taking traditional courses over a two-semester period.
The Express to Success Program at City College offers accelerated learning communities in developmental math and English for students who assess at one to two levels below college level.
“We do this by setting high expectations, teaching rigorous courses and providing a strong support network,” said Malloy.
ESP students take two or more classes together, working together in class and forming study groups outside of class to support their learning. The students only have one teacher for their classes in both math and English, to give a more hands on learning experience.
“Having instructors and counselors working together to support students is hugely important and something that could benefit all students,” said Malloy. “Teaching students how to be successful has an impact far beyond our classrooms.”
“I remember the feeling in my stomach coming into my math ESP class. Math was my worse subject and I had avoided anything and everything to do with it,” said Diana Soto, former ESP student. “A few days into the class, after forming a study group, my attitude began to change. It was incredible.”
ESP counselors meet with each student to explain the program and assess the student’s placement in an ESP learning community. Instructors and counselors work together closely to monitor student progress.
Other benefits of the program include book loans and support from Gateway tutors both inside and outside of class.
This method of teaching and learning has been proven to be highly effective.
One piece of advice Diana Soto can give to future ESP students is to “be a community. ” She also said putting the effort in reaching out to all available resources and doing the work is how to be successful.
“You are in for quite a ride.”