CSB awarded grant to improve Upward Bound students' college entrance test scores

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May 29, 2013

The College of Saint Benedict has received a $7,133 grant from the Great Lakes Higher Education Guaranty Corporation to help improve ACT scores of sophomore and junior high school students enrolled in the Upward Bound program at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University.

CSB was one of 34 schools and programs awarded a total of over $4 million in College Ready grants. The programs provide services to nearly 4,000 students in grades 6-12 and adult learners across Minnesota and Wisconsin during the 2013-14 academic year.

This one-year grant will fund a program to help 30 students improve their ACT test scores, which are used for college admission. The goal is to improve their cumulative test scores by two points, said Jennifer Whitehead, program director of Upward Bound at CSB and SJU. The top score a student can score on the ACT is 36.

Schools and programs had a choice of improving ACT or SAT test scores; grade-point averages or academic performance when applying for the grant.

"We feel like it is important to improve their ACT scores," Whitehead said. "Our students have done a good job in the past, but better test scores may help them get into the college of their choice and also receive a better financial aid package, since many of these students come from low-income families. We feel it's a win-win situation."

Junior students in the program will attend seven additional sessions each month from October through April. They will take a pre-ACT test in October to determine a baseline score, and then hear from an expert on the test in November. Following that will be sessions on language arts, mathematics and science, with a post ACT test taken in March and a review of the test in April. Sophomores will only attend the first six sessions.

High school juniors typically take the ACT test in the spring.

"College Ready grants give Great Lakes the opportunity to partner with organizations actively preparing more students to enroll and succeed in college-level courses," said Richard D. George, Great Lakes' president and chief executive officer. "The time, attention, tutoring and skill-building activities that these programs provide, through qualified educators and trained tutors, give students expanded options for college, and increased opportunities for lifelong success."  

Upward Bound is one of a cluster of programs referred to as TRIO, which were established by the federal Higher Education Act of 1965. The goal of the program is to create opportunities for high school students to attend college, with two-thirds of those students coming from low-income families or whose parents did not attend college.

The program began at CSB and SJU in 1995, and has served approximately 350 students. The students come from four "target" high schools - St. Cloud Technical, St. Cloud Apollo, Sauk Rapids-Rice and Willmar, with additional students coming from Rocori and Sartell-St. Stephen high schools.