March 11, 2016 - Issue 246 - OCTAE Connection

OCTAE Newsletter

March 11, 2016

Academic Preparedness of Low-Income Students

Low-income students score significantly below national averages on meeting college readiness benchmarks, according to ACT’s recent report, The Condition of College & Career Readiness 2015: Students from Low-Income Families. Equally disturbing is the fact that this pattern of underachievement is persistent.  For the sixth consecutive year, low-income students performed well below the national averages. 

This report considers the academic preparation and postsecondary aspirations of ACT-taking 2015 high school graduates with reported family earnings of less than $36,000 as compared with all ACT test takers.  About 25 percent of the 1.9 million ACT-tested high school graduates fell into the low-income category.  In general, the study found that most ACT test takers are not ready for success in college, but low-income students display far less readiness.  These academic gaps between low-income students and more affluent students emerge early in life and persist, and they have major consequences for future college readiness.  ACT research found that “the level of academic achievement that students attain by 8th grade has a larger impact on their college and career readiness by the time they graduate from high school than anything that happens academically in high school.”  Wise choices about schooling, however, can help mitigate the socioeconomic backgrounds of students.  Low-income students who take a core high school curriculum are more likely to be college-ready than those low-income students who take less-challenging curricula.  “Taking the right high school courses is a decision that has profound consequences, yet we aren’t seeing enough low-income students enroll” in these demanding courses, the report found.   Additionally, students, notwithstanding the incomes of their families, show more persistence in college if they have demonstrated higher degrees of academic discipline, commitment to college, and social connections.  Even though the relationship between college success and noncognitive skills needs to be better understood, there is evidence that there “are core noncognitive skills that are strongly correlated with college success.”  These skills need to be “developed and nurtured over time.”  

The report also found that 

  • half of the students from low-income families did not meet any of the four ACT College Readiness Benchmarks—a much higher percentage than the 31 percent of all ACT test takers who met no benchmarks;
  • 20 percent of poorer students succeeded in meeting three or four ACT benchmarks, whereas 40 percent of all ACT test takers achieved three or four benchmarks.  Over the past five years, neither the poorer students nor ACT test takers as a whole have increased their percentages reaching this standard; and
  • the rich/poor divide is correlated with large differences in college readiness.  The proportion of students reaching each of the four ACT benchmarks—English, reading, mathematics, and science— was between 38 and 43 percentage points lower for students from low-income families than for students from families with annual incomes of $100,000 or more.

The report concludes with a “call to action” for the development of policies and practices that provide a “tightly integrated approach to addressing postsecondary access, readiness, and success that spans the entire education continuum.”  Back to Top

Save the Date for the 2016 Minority-Serving Institutions Convening, “Minority Student Success: Using Data to Effect Change”

Richland College, in collaboration with ED’s Asian American Native American Pacific Islander Serving-Institutions (AANAPISI) Program is hosting a two-day conference for institutions of higher education interested in improving minority-student success. It will focus on effective research, initiatives and programs that impact the academic success of students at minority-serving institutions (MSIs). 

The conference will be held from Friday, Oct. 14, to Saturday, Oct.15, 2016, in Dallas, Texas.  It will focus on the existing evidence and on developing more robust methods for determining the success of minority programs and initiatives so that colleges and universities can improve, obtain funding, and effect change. The 2016 MSI convening is the first in a series of four annual conferences hosted by Richland College that are designed to shift the focus of MSIs from what they are doing to what they are doing successfully 

The Richland College conference website,, has more information, including how to submit a proposal for a workshop at this year’s conference. You may also contact M.T. Hickman, the 2016 MSI convening coordinator, at or at (972)238-6097.   Back to Top and Provide Free Consumer Protection Tools for Educators and Students

Looking for free tools to help students understand consumer protection basics—including financial literacy—in plain and simple language?  The Federal Trade Commission has a free educational website— in English and in Spanish—to help people avoid scams, manage their money, use credit and loans carefully, and protect their personal information. 

The site is easy to use and navigate, and accessible to people with different learning styles and literacy levels. Educators can access free articles, videos, and worksheets about managing money—including making a budget; credit, loans, and debt, how to get and fix credit reports; and avoiding scams and identity theft. Other tools include presentations and lesson plans (arriving in spring 2016). You can also hear content read aloud by clicking the “listen” button next to each article in either English or Spanish. and information is free to use and share. Everything is in the public domain, so cut and paste and use as you wish. You can download copies to hand out, link to a page, or copy text into a newsletter. There are no copyright limits. 

The FTC will also send free printed copies of and materials. Resources come in a sample pack, including all topics in English and Spanish, or in tear-off pads of 50 for each topic. Students can refer to these one-page flyers when making financial decisions, or complete the Make a Budget worksheet to make their own monthly budget. Free bulk orders (including free shipping) may be submitted at   Back to Top

Apply Now for Bureau of Justice Assistance Second Chance Act Technology-Based Career Training Program

The U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) has announced a funding opportunity for its Second Chance Act (SCA) program to provide technology-based career training to incarcerated adults and juveniles. Authorized by the Second Chance Act of 2007, this grant program aims to facilitate the successful reentry of individuals after a period of incarceration and promote public safety. 

In addition to providing technology career training to incarcerated individuals prior to their release from a correctional facility, the program will design individualized reentry plans with employment support and other post-release transition services. Training will be in an occupational/technological field (e.g. computer programing, software development, auto mechanics, manufacturing, etc.) in which there is a labor demand in trainee’s geographic area. 

Please read the full announcement from BJA, and be sure to register for the information webinar on responding to the solicitation, hosted by the National Reentry Resource Center, on Wednesday, March 16. 

Applications are due April 12, 2016. 

Grant Announcement 

Webinar Registration Page 

To learn more about the type of work supported through the SCA technology-based career training program, visit Kansas Second Chance Act Grantee Helps Secure Tech Jobs for Women Returning Home from Prison. 

Subscribers may also be interested in the following mentoring grant solicitation:

Apply Now: Second Chance Act Comprehensive Community-Based Reentry Utilizing Mentors

Register Now for Webinar: Responding to the Second Chance Act Adult Reentry Mentoring Grant Solicitation.     Back to Top