STEM Collaborative Helps African American Male High School Students Succeed
After the bell rings to end the day at David Starr Jordan High School in Long Beach, California, it signals the continuation of learning for a unique group of high school students enrolled in the Claremont-Long Beach Math Collaborative.
The Collaborative “is unique because it provides support throughout the school day and after school to a population which needs help the most,” said Doris Robinson, director of the program, which caters to African-American male high school students.
“Our program focuses on in-class support as well as after-school tutoring for eight hours per week in core high school subjects with an emphasis on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) to ensure college graduation and college entry for the 34 program participants."
In partnership with the Long Beach Unified School District, the School of Educational Studies at Claremont Graduate University, Harvey Mudd College and Edison International, the program helps underperforming high school students prepare for college and the future workforce.
As a retired educator with more than 30 years of teaching experience, Robinson is most proud of the academic progress the students are making because of the Collaborative. She notes that students who had 0.69 GPAs now have 2.5 GPAs; others who had 2.1 GPAs have now improved to 3.00 GPAs.
“We now have 15 out of 34 students on the Principal's Honor Roll," she said.
Aaron Bell is a 10th grade student at Jordan High School who has been part of the Collaborative the past two years. He has a 3.86 GPA and has worked hard to maintain his high grades.
“If I hadn't known about the Claremont-Long Beach Math Collaborative, I wouldn't have the friends I have today. It helped me to become an inspiration and a role model to my peers,’’ he said. “It has impacted me positively in a way that has allowed me to expand on my abilities to do better in school. For two years, I've been a part of this program, and it has helped me become who I am today.”
The Collaborative started in 2011 with a group of ninth grade students to help increase the number of African-American males who will attend and graduate from college. The program’s first participants will graduate from high school in 2015 with the help of this STEM-intensive program.
Robinson attributes the success of the program in part to their ability to reach out to young males transitioning from middle school to high school. Over the summer, the program also brings male, African-American eighth-graders from North Long Beach — each of them an incoming freshman at Jordan High School — to the Claremont Colleges to take part in mathematics workshops and student skill-building exercises led by college faculty, master teachers, and graduate and undergraduate mentors.
Parenting also plays a big part in the program’s success. Each month, the Collaborative staff meet with the parents to review their child’s academic performance and discuss a plan to help each student succeed.
“We always tell the students and their parents that they have a family at home and we are their family at school,” said Robinson.
As with most outreach programs, there are costs that the Claremont-Long Beach Collaborative incurs while providing the in- and after-school tutoring for the STEM students.
"Having support from corporate partners such as Edison International is critical to the academic success of our students. We are building the future workforce together,” Robinson said. “In the 21st century global marketplace, STEM fields are becoming increasingly important as a source of well-paying jobs that innovate and strengthen local and national economies."
Since 2009, Edison International, parent company of Southern California Edison, has provided almost $45 million to education programs that help students excel in STEM. In 2013, Edison International contributed $10.7 million to support education programs and scholarships to help underrepresented students pursue degrees in the STEM fields.
“As an energy company, we recognize the skills needed for our future workforce and to help advance our country,” said Janet Clayton, senior vice president of Corporate Communications at Edison International and SCE. “As a result, we focus our educational funding on preparing students to excel in STEM and to promote the inclusion of minority, low-income and underrepresented students in these academic fields.”