Campus continues tutoring


A student enrichment program that just one year ago was unable to have its funding renewed at campuses within the CSU system will continue on at CSUN.

The Center for Academic Preparedness has partnered with Monroe High School and Sepulveda Middle School to provide its students with tutoring as part of the Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs initiative.

Last week, 30 to 35 CSUN student tutors began assisting teachers with students in their seventh and eighth grade classes at Sepulveda Middle School. They will then continue to tutor them in English and math during their years at Monroe High School, said Director of College Preparatory Programs Raul Aragon.

“The goal is to help prepare them for a postsecondary education,” said Aragon, whose tutors are CSUN majors of such disciplines as math, English and science.

Having heard of CSUN and Sylmar High School’s past success with Gear-Up, Monroe High School submitted a proposal for a six-year $3 million grant to the Department of Education. The school received the federal award last year in July.

Unlike Upward Bound, which only selects about 300 students from low-income backgrounds, the program provides tutoring to all students that it can, Aragon said.

But the program’s effectiveness from its beginning at Olive Vista Middle School to its ending at Sepulveda High School six years ago may be limited. Back then it operated with a $7 million grant. And the end result was higher graduation rates.

Teachers at these schools used to have 25 to 30 students per class with the help of tutors. Now they are back to working with 30 to 40 students by themselves. Gear-Up’s loss may hinder their grades, but help two new schools.

“The loss is for these students because they don’t have that extra support or promotion of education skills,” said Gear-Up Tutoring Coordinator Michael Flowers. “Another thing that may happen is that the graduation rate may drop.”

Those who do graduate will have lost their path to higher education and the bridge to financial success that comes with a college education, Flowers said.

In 2004, CSUN’s six-year Gear-Up grant was not renewed. The proposal sent to the Department of Education received a priority score one point lower than what was required for approval. “One of the three reviewers just didn’t understand what we were doing,” Aragon said. This lowered the average score.

A revised proposal was resubmitted in 2005, but the minimum priority score was increased because program funds were cut from the federal budget and were therefore limited.

The proposal fell two priority points below the new minimum, which ended Gear-Up at Olive Vista Middle School and Sepulveda High School.

When the six-year Gear-Up is again offered by the Department of Education, the Center for Academic Preparedness intends to send a new proposal, Aragon said.

Availability of funds for these programs usually depends on the proportion of the federal budget Congress allots to them when weighed against other priorities.

“After 9/11, a lot of federal dollars were dedicated to funding anti-terrorist research, and this is also what happened when the AIDS virus was discovered,” said Director for Graduate Studies Scott Perez. “It’s about government priorities.”