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CSTEP helps students compute the future

Date released: 10/08/04

SAN MARCOS — The College of Health Professions, in collaboration with the Department of Computer Science at Texas State University-San Marcos, has received a three-year $843,000 National Science Foundation grant to create a “Pathway” for Hispanic students to enter information technology careers.

The Central/South Texas ENLACE Partnership (CSTEP), a program within the college, will develop, in partnership with regional schools, five Computer Science Training Academies (LA COSTA Academies) to provide after-school activities, Saturday events and a summer institute for 250 high-risk Hispanic students. The project starts with 8th grade students building a computer to take home and ends with 10th grade students prepared to manage a computer service help desk.

Project LA COSTA is an effort to address the low enrollment of the Hispanic community in Texas higher education institutions and particularly computer science career fields. The collaboration is a long-term undertaking to increase the fall 2009 enrollment number of Hispanic freshmen and transfer computer science majors at Texas State.

CSTEP was established in 1999 to increase Hispanic college and university graduates. It has identified insufficient preparation in mathematics as a key barrier for Hispanics in the computer sciences. Based on one sample district, it is estimated that about 29 percent of 8th and 9th grade Hispanic girls did not take algebra 1, and of those who did, one fifth failed algebra. Project LA COSTA Academies will offer computer science activities to reinforced classroom algebra instruction. In addition, each LA COSTA Academy will employ three algebra tutors to help the 250 participating Hispanic students succeed. With an equal number of male and female students, Project LA COSTA activities are designed to support gender equality by encouraging more women to enter the IT workforce.

The CSTEP partnership is composed of: the Alamo Community College District in San Antonio, Laredo Community College, Southwest Texas Junior College in Uvalde, and the Victoria Independent School District and Texas State University-San Marcos. CSTEP has created local coalitions to decrease Hispanics dropouts by working with partnering high schools to become Exemplary Texas Schools. With its community college partners, CSTEP has supported local initiatives to increase Hispanic community college graduates and transfers to bachelor programs.