Search form

You are here

QCC Works To Help Change Lives Through College Readiness Courses

February, 2019
  • Carol King, Julio Zayas, Staisha Chavis and David McGrath
    Director of College and Career Pathways, Carol King (left top); Program Manager Julio Zayas (right top); Instructor Staisha Chavis (left bottom) and Instructor David McGrath

A recent partnership between the Worcester County House of Correction (WCHOC) and Quinsigamond Community College is gaining some traction. The college has become part of a program to deliver college readiness courses in mathematics and English to the temporary residents of WCHOC who will soon exit. The program is being funded by the WCHOC through the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (MA DESE) Adult Education Services.

According to QCC’s Director of College and Career Pathways, Carol King, QCC has worked for over a year on developing a stronger partnership with WCHOC.  The college explored a number of programming options with the WCHOC and ultimately was funded to provide college readiness in English and math. The intent with this specific program is to develop a pipeline of credit students into the Future Focus Program. 

“Over the last several years, Gilmarie Vongphakdy, QCC’s Future Focus Program Coordinator, has been working with WCHOC and recruiting students for the Future Focus Program,” Ms. King said. Future Focus is an Adult Basic Education Transition to Community College initiative for adult learners who have participated in and/or completed high school equivalency (e.g., GED or HiSET preparation) or English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) classes.

One of the first and biggest challenges that faced the staff of the new WCHOC program was developing a program that would provide maximum benefit to a student population with different and often changing exit dates.  There is no way to guarantee that a student would be available to complete 24 weeks of classes. After much discussion and research, the staff decided that a college-readiness program delivering mathematics and English consecutively, rather than concurrently, would better suit the WCHOC students. 

“In many ways, this math and English college readiness program mirrors other, similar efforts already underway at QCC,” Ms. King said, adding that those who complete these classes will take the QMAT (QCC’s mathematics placement testing) and Accuplacer, and are expected to place at college level, or closer than they would have without the additional readiness classes.

The program, which is managed by Julio Zayas under the leadership of Ms. King, began in January and is offered on Tuesdays and Thursdays for 24 weeks – 12 weeks for mathematics and 12 weeks for English. The class, which can have a maximum of 20 students, began with 17 participants and currently has 14 participants. Students have left due to early releases or transfers.Courses are taught by instructors David McGrath (mathematics) and Staisha Chavis (English). 

Program Manager Julio Zayas, said the program has been very well-received by the students, who currently are in the program’s math segment. They are interested in and engaged with the curriculum, class materials, and instructional staff.

“College readiness is our goal,” Mr. Zayas said. “These students deserve a second opportunity for education and they are doing very well.”

Although the WCHOC program currently ends in June, the hope is that it will be continued. “It’s going well so far,” Ms. King said, adding, “If WCHOC is fully funded next year, we believe this program will be renewed.”