Out of all the 2009 high school graduates within the Elgin Community College district boundaries, 76 percent enrolled in a college program within two years and 89 percent of those students stuck it out for a second year.
As ECC President David Sam told gathered educators Thursday, those numbers don't mean much right now -- but they're providing a benchmark to gauge improvement moving forward.
More than 100 members of the Alliance for College Readiness convened for the first meeting of the 2012-13 school year to discuss, among other things, the new statistics. The Alliance brings together educators in St. Charles Community Unit School District 303, Burlington Community Unit School District 301, Carpentersville Community Unit District 300 and Elgin Area School District U-46.
The college-going and college persistence rates are unique -- ECC knows of no other community college in the state or the nation that aggregated the numbers to get a districtwide statistic. And the data includes students who go to any college, not just ECC.
Todd Stirn, superintendent of District 301, said school districts didn't used to collaborate and share information. The alliance, which started in 2006, has created an atmosphere of cooperation where districts can learn from each other. Teachers and administrators from all the public high schools come together with ECC faculty and staff regularly for planning.
"One of the strengths of the alliance is bringing these leaders together," Stirn said.
The mission of the alliance is to improve student success whether they are headed for college or the workplace after graduation. And, increasingly, students need the same skills whichever path they take.
Its most recent achievements include development of a fourth-year math curriculum for high school students that aims to keep math skills fresh for students who finish their graduation requirements after their junior year but plan to take math in college. The curriculum could be implemented in all four districts next year.
The alliance also created a Summer Bridge Program at ECC to offer intensive refresher courses for first-year students. It emphasizes college readiness as early as middle school.
Julie Schaid, ECC associate dean of college readiness and school partnerships, said a lot of good work is happening beyond the alliance in the individual districts, but the collaboration allows the region to do more together.
"Through the alliance we're able to share and leverage and kind of move forward faster because of our partnership," Schaid said.