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A New Path: The U.S. Department of Education, corporations, and educational institutions have joined together to create a Pathways to College Network that will work to improve college preparation and access for low- income, underrepresented students.

"This is an extraordinary coalition," U.S. Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley said Dec. 6 at a press conference held in Washington to announce the new alliance. "These are the people who run the schools, lead the colleges, make the entrance exams, and who give children an extra boost into college. They are agreeing, jointly, to use conclusive research to evaluate what they are doing and to improve and coordinate their efforts."

According to the Education Department figures, only 47 percent of low-income high school graduates immediately enroll in a college, university, or trade school, compared with 82 percent of students from well-to-do families. And about 22 percent of poor students who are qualified for college never pursue postsecondary education, compared with a mere 4 percent of high-income graduates.

The Pathways to College Network brings together researchers, policy analysts, educators, businesses, and community-based organizations to identify best practices for preparing those underrepresented youths for college. Start-up funding will come from the Education Department's Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education, the GE Fund, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the James Irvine Foundation, the Ford Foundation, and others.

The network, which will spend nearly $2 million over the first three years of the partnership, includes the American Council of Education, the College Board, the Education Commission of the States, and the National Association of Secondary School Principals.

Funding will be administered by the Boston-based Educational Resources Institute in collaboration with Occidental College in Los Angeles. David Roth, the deputy to the president for government and community relations at Occidental, said alliance officials expect to receive additional funding from other foundations.

That money will be used to hire a director to oversee the new network, to put together a thorough assessment system, and to gather the most current research on best practices in the field, Mr. Roth said.

—John Gehring

Vol. 20, Issue 15, Page 18

Published in Print: December 13, 2000, as Colleges

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