The Southern California Science and Engineering Career Access
Center is generally referred to as the ACCESS CENTER, as
this title succinctly represents the mission and role the Center
plays in the Los Angeles educational community. Located on the
campus of Cal State L.A. (CSLA) and funded by the National Science
Foundation (NSF) since 1989, our mission is to increase the number
of well trained middle and high school minority students prepared
to enter careers in math, science or engineering. The ACCESS
Center has adopted the motto "To Make Learning Come Alive"
and has structured all of our programs to be active and experiential.
Over the past six years we have refined our approach to focus
upon a three-pronged strategy: 1) Middle School Teacher Development,
2) Direct Student Intervention and, 3) Evaluation and Analysis
of programs. Understanding the crucial role parents play in the
success of their children's education, a parental involvement
component is included in each of our programs. ACCESS has provided
financial support, expertise, leadership and curriculum guidance
to impact over 13,000 pre-college minority students and 102 math
and science teachers during this past school year alone.
TEACHER DEVELOPMENT. The goals of our teacher development
programs are: to promote quality middle school math and science
curricula; to facilitate implementation of the state frameworks
and national standards for math and science; and to facilitate
systemic change within schools. Programs include the following.
The Teacher Summer Science Academy (TSSA) was
originally held as a joint venture between biology faculty at
CSLA and Caltech. Currently it is conducted primarily by faculty
at CSLA. In this 3 week program, 15 middle school science teachers
learn integrated and interdisciplinary approaches to life science
curricula. The California Science Framework is used as a guide
for the hands-on activities featuring Wisconsin Fast Plants and
Bottle Biology. Access to Algebra is a reform program
which targets 7th and 8th grade teachers. This program provides
efficient systemic reform as all teachers in a given math department
are trained in reform minded curricula simultaneously. Teachers
participate, as a group, in a series of trainings held throughout
the school year. Teachers from various grade levels learn a variety
of curricula and pedagogy that embraces the reforms of the California
Mathematics Framework. The Robert Moses Algebra Project
is gaining national attention as a cutting edge reform movement
specifically aimed at minority, 6th and 7th grade math students.
The goal of the program is to have as many students as possible
prepared for algebra by the 8th grade. To do this, as an Algebra
Project site, ACCESS actively trains teachers in the use of a
5-step curricular process for delivering instruction, while integrating
the program with other reform minded curricula. Follow-up classroom
implementation support takes place throughout the year and parents
are engaged in program related events. This project is especially
powerful with bilingual and other disenfranchised students as
the experiences of the students themselves drives the curriculum.
DIRECT STUDENT INTERVENTION. The goals of our direct student
intervention programs are: to build a stimulating and supportive
classroom environment that promotes student centered learning;
to provide enrichment opportunities for middle and high school
students; and to facilitate systemic revisions within the school.
Programs include the following. The College Prep Program
is our most successful direct student intervention program.
This program has been part of ACCESS for over five years and
serves as a successful model that is now being replicated at three
other high schools. Average (B/C) students are recruited to participate
in this program as they enter their high school freshman year.
The model consists of five essential components that include:
a thorough academic program; strong tutoring support; a parent
involvement component; an on-site steering committee; and a partnership
with a local university. The Saturday Science Academy (SSA)
is funded by the Jacob's Family Foundation and provides three
10-week sessions of math, science, and computer activities for
middle school students at Hamilton Middle School in Long Beach.
Lessons are delivered in a exciting hands-on approach which enables
students to increase their comfort level and develop their abilities
in these disciplines. The Residential Intensive Math &
Science Academy (RIMSA), funded by NSF serves 50
minority 7th and 8th grade students. It is a four-week residential
program, on the campus of CSLA, in math, science, computers and
creative writing geared toward curricular enrichment. Following
RIMSA students attend 8 Saturday science sessions which completes
the RIMSA experience. The goal of this program is to prepare
these children for college by providing a strong foundation for
entering high school on a college prep track.
EVALUATION AND ANALYSIS. The goals for evaluation and analysis
are: to use evaluation as a tool for planning and refining programs;
to measure the effectiveness of our programs; and to establish
models that can be replicated and disseminated. The ACCESS Center
uses the MOS database developed by NSF to gather the needed data.
Qualitative evaluation is also done to examine our programs.
Among the instruments used are the Fennema-Sherman Mathematics
Attitudes Scale and the science counter-part. Students, teachers
and parents are also interviewed concerning the results and quality
of our programs.