Jun 12, 2012
Rose Sita Francia, an administrative, agriculture and nutrition specialist who was most recently an instructor at Mendocino College in Ukiah, has been named coordinator of Humboldt State University’s Early Assessment Program, succeeding Robert Sizoo.
The EAP is the state multiagency initiative that measures the readiness of high school juniors for university English and mathematics.
Born in Santa Barbara, reared in Santa Cruz and educated at Humboldt State, New College of California and College of the Redwoods, Francia is responsible for juniors in Humboldt, Del Norte and Mendocino Counties. Her EAP coverage area also includes a portion of Trinity County shared with Chico State and a part of Lake County shared with Sonoma State.
The EAP enables juniors to take an early test of their English and math skills and, if needed, pursue additional study their senior year on a voluntary basis. The need is grave. Typically, 82% are not ready for college-level English and 43% are not ready for college-level mathematics.
The program keeps students, parents, teachers and statewide education officials apprised of how well-prepared 11th-graders are for college-level scholarship. Further, it can save students and their families the cost of taking remedial courses after admission to a college or university.
The EAP also includes professional development activities for high school English and math faculty.
Francia travels from high school to high school to acquaint juniors with the program and how it functions. The EAP’s voluntary test is an augmented California Standards Test in 11th-grade English and math. It is administered to juniors annually in May by their respective high schools.
Eleventh-graders are notified in their senior year if they need additional preparation in the wake of the exam. Students who need to boost their skills in expository reading and writing can take a specially designed 12th-grade course, developed jointly by high school teachers, Humboldt State and CSU specialists.
Juniors who need to buttress their math ability have access during their senior year to pertinent courses and to other individualized, online interactive programs. They also can tap a math success website.
The EAP test provides students, parents and teachers with early notice about 11th graders’ preparedness for college. Those who choose to reinforce their skills in their senior year have a better chance of successfully completing their CSU placement exams and bypassing remedial courses, a considerable saving in time and money.
In her introductory presentation, Francia spells out what is required to attend college and do so successfully. In her words, she demystifies the EAP test so that juniors feel comfortable volunteering to take it.
“In the content, we go over what is involved in college math and English placement tests,” Francia says. “I also go over admission requirements and inform students about Humboldt State, the CSU, community college and vocational education, so that I am speaking to the entire group. The point is to assist the students in thinking about their adult lives with real interest about their prospects for attending college. I want them to have a positive feeling as they leave their classroom after the presentation.”
In discussing with juniors how remedial classes work, Francia emphasizes that the classes meet legitimate needs and that community colleges are appropriate institutions in which to take them. But the advantage of the EAP is that juniors can address remedial needs in their senior year at high school, getting a head start on college readiness.
Students usually ask Francia for information about how they will pay for college, whether attendance will be worth it economically and if they are reasonably certain of finding a secure job after earning a degree.
“High school juniors are well aware of the economic situation we are all facing,” Francia says. “They ask, ‘Why would I become a teacher when my teachers get pink-slipped every year?’ The woes of adult financial reality are very much on students’ minds. They see parents losing their jobs or the banks foreclosing their homes. They want to know their chances for a secure job and whether there will be a place for them in the university, given enrollment pressures and the intense competition.”
The EAP is the joint initiative of three state agencies, California State University, the California Department of Education and the California State Board of Education. The partnership is designed to ensure that college-bound high school graduates do in fact have the math and English skills requisite for state university matriculation.
Francia attended the California Community College EAP conference in May, her second month on the job at Humboldt State. “I learned there how really strong partnerships are being formed in other parts of the state. In our region here in the North Coast we are doing exactly the same—with College of the Redwoods and Mendocino College, county and district offices of education and high school sites. When I visit a high school, I make a point of visiting the satellite branch of the community college, so I’m familiar with its protocol, and I meet the key players at each location. I encourage high school students to connect with their local branch.”
In her presentations, Francia underscores the importance of student self-care and personal health in achieving academic success. Although many North Coast youngsters have solid parental support and family understanding of what is needed to navigate the college system, Francia notes, the well-being and college prospects of other students are jeopardized by the region’s high poverty rates and geographic isolation.
“In the last part of my presentation, I emphasize to the students the importance of their personal health care and the fact that if you’re not taking care of your basic needs, it’s really hard to learn and really hard to stay focused in school.”
On this subject, Francia’s diverse professional background comes into play. Formerly, she was a self-employed organic farmer, former instructor in culinary arts and agriculture and the past coordinator of the Fit-Teen diabetes prevention program, a partnership among UC Davis Children’s Hospital, the Round Valley Indian Health Center and the Round Valley Unified School District in Covelo. She helps students appreciate the importance of diet, nutrition and general health to academic performance. “Depression and diabetes can seriously interfere with school work,” Francia underlines, “and awareness and treatment of them are essential to doing well academically.”