East Los Angeles College president helps start college prep program

By Jade Inglada

After months of planning, East Los Angeles College President Marvin Martinez and partner administrators have launched the “GO East LA: A Pathway for College and Career Success” program.

“GO (Great Outcomes) East LA” is an initiative created for students’ long-term success, starting from when they are children until they graduate high school. The purpose is to create more college-ready students.

Students that complete the program will be guaranteed admission into ELAC or California State University, Los Angeles.

The program was developed by Martinez, Los Angeles Unified School District Board Member Monica Garcia, CSULA President William A. Covino and LAUSD Superintendent Roberto Martinez.

Garfield High School was the first school to join the program after the four administrators signed a Commitment Compact with Garfield’s Principal Jose Huerta on May 8.

The high school has more students attending ELAC and CSULA more than any other high school in East L.A.

Martinez said they plan to add Theodore Roosevelt High School next because it is the second largest after Garfield. The goal is to expand the program throughout East L.A.

There are plans in the works to add more schools to the program.

Griffith, Belvedere and Stevenson Middle Schools are the three feeder schools for Garfield. The majority of these students go on to attend Garfield when they begin high school. These middle schools also participated in ELAC’s College Preview Day on May 9.

Griffith Middle School has started its partnership with the program and is the first middle school to have a College and Career Center on its campus. The school has a College Prep Club with more than 90 students involved.

Stevenson Middle School will be participating in the program this fall.

“We need to help the masses or else you end up losing generations of kids,” Martinez said.

According to Martinez, less than six percent of adults in East L.A. have a bachelor’s degree.

It takes Elans three to five years to earn an associate degree and almost 80 percent need remedial courses.

Martinez said we are “putting ourselves in a position to create miracles.” With few exceptions, it’s almost impossible to get students with fifth grade level math to get ready to transfer within two years.

Martinez wants to create a “transfer culture” on campus and, with the program, aims to have students be ready to transfer within two to three years.

In 2012, ELAC had 335 students apply to UCLA and of the 95 admitted, only 63 enrolled.

That same year 1,863 students from Santa Monica College also applied and 684 enrolled. Things improved slightly last year when 350 Elans applied to UCLA and almost 100 enrolled.

According to fafsa.ed.gov, ELAC’s transfer rate is low at seven percent, while the retention rate, the students that start and remain attending the school, is 75 percent.

By preparing students up through high school, the long-term goal is to have more students college-ready by the time they graduate and help them earn their degrees or start a career much faster.

On the opening day of the upcoming fall semester, a task force will be present to discuss and listen to recommendations from professors and faculty about they can do to improve the college’s learning environment.

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