TICONDEROGA - Local schools are doing a good job preparing students for college.
That's the assessment of a University of Michigan team studying the effectiveness of programs aimed at promoting college education.
"There are great things going on here," said Chris Nellum, part of the team that visited Ticonderoga Middle School, Crown Point Central School and Willsboro Central School May 10-12. "These are good programs."
The Michigan research team was specifically studying the College For Every Student program.
CFES, based in Cornwall, Vt., works with 540 schools nationally - including 12 in the Adirondacks - to prepare students for college. CFES claims 96 percent of its high school seniors - 2,500 young people from rural, high-poverty areas - have gone on to college in the past three years.
"We're looking at ways to build college capacity by reaching out to under-served and at-risk students. We're trying to figure out ways to create pathways to college for them," explained Vicky Bigelow of the Michigan team. "We want to learn what gets students to college, what keeps them there and what allows them to succeed."
The Michigan researchers, who have visited dozens of schools from New York to Florida, interviewed Ticonderoga students, teachers, administrators and community members as well as representatives from Clinton Community College and Paul Smiths College.
While they won't have a completed report until this fall, they believe CFES is effective.
"It's amazing the amount of information students are exposed to," researcher Brian Burt said. "There's so much sometimes students can't articulate all the information. They don't know what they know; they won't fully understand all the benefits of the (CFES) program until they get to college."
Ticonderoga has been part of CFES since 1997.
Bruce Tubbs, Ti Middle School principal, is looking forward to the final Michigan report.
"Even though I believe we have a good program in Ti and make good use of CFES, we're always looking for ways to improve," Tubbs said. "I think this study will be valuable in helping us assess the things we do."
Steve Boyce, CFES program director for Ti schools, agreed. "I think it (the final report) will give us an opportunity to see what other schools are doing with CFES and how that may apply to Ticonderoga," Boyce said. "The CFES is a program that gets activities into the hands of kids as quickly as any I've ever worked with. It's a good program."
CFES is just one program in a multi-case study on college preparation. The Michigan research team is also looking at other, similar programs across the country.