Caldwell’s go-on program ramps up

Caldwell community leaders are looking to expand a program designed to increase college go-on rates, by starting in preschool.

The P16 program is beginning its third school year, and as data starts to emerge, student participation is increasing.

P16 students“We believe it benefits every student in the Caldwell School District,” said Teresa Wood-Adams, executive director of the childhood development branch of the Treasure Valley Family YMCA, which runs the program.

“More kids ready to learn at the kindergarten level creates a better situation for teachers to move kids quicker, faster, deeper and better.”

After a year in P16, kindergartners were scoring better than their peers. Last year, 48 percent of P16 preschool graduates achieved mastery scores on the Idaho Reading Indicator. Districtwide, 28.6 percent of kindergarten students achieved mastery.

This year, P16 preschool is housed in Sacajawea and Woodrow Wilson elementary schools, but Wood-Adams hopes to raise money to expand to every Caldwell elementary.

Program leaders and Caldwell superintendent Tim Rosandick are looking to carry the preschool’s momentum through high school and into college. Caldwell’s 23 percent go-on rate was the lowest in the Treasure Valley, according to a 2009 study commissioned by the United Way. Areawide, the rate was 48 percent.

Through P16’s out-of-school program (which has seen a 15 percent increase in participation this year), elementary students participate in just-for-fun college visits, often to Boise State University’s blue turf.

Then they talk to teachers about what it means to have a career, and which subjects people study in order to land their jobs.

“The point of P16 is to help create a mindset that a high school diploma is not the target,” Rosandick said. “The target is beyond high school.”

By high school, P16 liaisons in every school help students complete financial aid forms, set up a more serious campus visit and apply to colleges or two-year programs.

After the first year of P16, Caldwell High School’s college enrollment rate increased from 39 percent to 48 percent.

“Our original intent is to try to double postsecondary going rates,” said Susan Saad, development director for the United Way of Treasure Valley.

At least 14 businesses or organizations have offered financial or volunteer support to P16 – including the YMCA, United Way of the Treasure Valley, Big Brothers Big Sisters, The Crookham Co., Lee Pesky Learning Center and the Laura Moore Cunningham Foundation.

P16 Reading“What is really cool about P16 is it’s really a community thing; it’s not just the Caldwell School District,” Rosandick said.

More information

There is a monthly fee to participate in P16’s preschool and elementary age out-of-school programs, but financial assistance is available.

To volunteer or find out about enrolling a Caldwell student in P16, call program director Josh Williamson at (208) 649-1120, Ext. 9.

For a tour of the program or to find out about contributing, call Susan Saad at (208) 336-1070, Ext. 112.

Disclosure: Idaho Education News is funded by a grant from the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation, which also serves as one of several funding partners for P16.