The GRS pilot program will target low-income high school juniors in two Tacoma high schools, Lincoln and Mount Tahoma. Approximately 100 students will have the opportunity to participate in a four-day residential college experience and a three-week academic-focused summer program during the summer between their junior and senior years. Beyond the educational benefits, this summer programming will allow students to experience college life, get acclimated to the facilities and resources on campus, and learn more about admission requirements.
During their senior year, the 100 students will be clustered into Navigation 101 advisories. Navigation 101 is a life planning curriculum offered to TPS high school students through a College Spark college readiness initiative. Clustering program students in the Navigation 101 advisories will allow them to form a cohort of “like” students, who may bond around their common effort to overcome the odds and be successful in college. This specialized senior year advisory will have an extra focus on college readiness and will help the students make the most of their senior year. The students will be encouraged to take advantage of dual-credit programs, like Advanced Placement or Running Start (a Washington state program allowing high school students to take community college courses for both high school and college credit), to get a head start on earning college credits. Students who still have developmental needs will continue to bolster their skills during their senior year and have an opportunity to enroll in a second summer bridge program before entering college. Continued support in the form of advising and mentoring is offered to students throughout their first year of postsecondary education.
Incentives totaling up to $3,000 per student will be used to motivate students’ participation in and completion of the high school and summer activities, their matriculation into postsecondary education, and their progress in the first year of college.
Based on the operational lessons learned through this pilot of the GRS program, the partners will consider replicating, scaling up, and rigorously evaluating (with random assignment) the program at other high schools.