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OUS/GEAR UP program leaves no Ironton child behind

Since its inception in 1999, GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness in Undergraduate Programs) has earned its place as one of the most innovative and inclusive federal programs.

Nationally, GEAR UP has served more than 2.3 million students in 47 states.

The GEAR UP Program provides students the opportunity to learn more about professional careers and take advantage of education opportunities that will prepare them to attend college and succeed in life.

GEAR UP empowers middle and high school students to do their very best academic work and to improve their chances to enroll and succeed in college.

GEAR UP helps students by providing more in-depth college preparation, mentorship programs, career guidance, summer academic enrichment camps and engages parents and families to become more engaged with our schools and academic lives.

The Ironton GEAR UP program's main goal is to increase the number of students who aspire to prepare for and succeed in post-secondary education.

In order to meet this goal, the Ironton GEAR UP Program has developed a comprehensive educational model, which includes these four components:

4Academic improvement and professional development

4Advising and mentoring programs

4Early awareness programs

4Parental involvement program

The OUS GEAR UP Demonstration Project in conjunction with the Ironton City Schools, implemented the restructured ninth grade math and science curriculum to ensure alignment with state and national core requirements and incorporated modernized teaching materials and methodology toward a more hands-on, inquiry-based approach.

The restructured math curriculum introduced algebra at the junior high (eighth grade) level and calculus for seniors.

The restructured science curriculum featured the addition

of chemistry II and honors physics at the high school level. These new courses were accompanied by professional development for teachers and adequate academic supplies to ensure student success.

In the area of math, the Ironton program was instrumental in instituting the Carnegie Math Program that enabled students to work at their own pace to ensure that they developed the essential math competetency needed for success in their academic careers.

This program proved to be a powerful teaching and learning strategy because it not only helped to improve students' math skills, but also their skills in technology, language arts and reading as well. The program also provided alignment with the competencies students needed to pass the state proficiency exam.

Joseph Rowe, principal of Ironton High School said, "We had a 100-percent graduation rate last year with the class of 2004. GEAR UP solely funds our academic tutoring program, where any student, grades 7-12, can receive tutoring services by college students and/or teachers.

"Also through GEAR UP efforts, we have been able to purchase software, textbooks and workbooks and that possess proficiency materials necessary for intervention for any student that was deficient with proficiency tests. This is demonstrated with a 100-percent passing rate on the Ohio Proficiency Tests this school year fro graduating seniors.

"The class of 2005 has a college enrollment rate of 73 percent. In 1999, prior to GEAR UP in our school, 57 percent of the graduating class enrolled in college. The increase in percentage is indicative of the importance, focus, and initiatives of GEAR UP and Ironton High School."

The GEAR UP program has been a unique collaboration between the federal government, Ohio University Southern and the Ironton City Schools. When this level of partnership and cooperation exists, students benefit.

Numerous graduating Ironton seniors are now better prepared to succeed in education as well as in life.

Jeff Handley is the director

of the GEAR UP/OUS program. He can be reached at (740) 533-4556 or by e-mail at handleyj@ohio.edu.