Florida International University (FIU), a four-year, public, urban, research, Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI), was awarded in 2009 a grant in the College of Education, to implement the Creating Latino Access to a Valuable Education (CLAVE) project. The program aims to expand post-baccalaureate educational opportunities and improve the academic attainment of Hispanic students. During the five years of implementation, the project has enhanced three key areas: graduate student support services, faculty professional development and upgrading of instructional technologies. The CLAVE project is a collaboration between the College of Education (COE) and Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS), the fourth largest school district in the United States. In order to increase the number of Hispanic/Latino educators with advanced degrees in M-DCPS, the CLAVE project has provided tuition scholarships to four cohorts of Latino teachers and administrators (N=36) in their pursuit of master’s and doctoral degrees.
The goal of the CLAVE project is to increase the number of Hispanic American educators who obtain graduate degrees. A number of support mechanisms were established to enhance opportunities for Hispanic teachers and administrators to advance their professional careers with the required new knowledge, skills and dispositions. The academic services are available to all students in the college. The support services include: tutoring, mentoring, advising and additional instruction related to research endeavors. In addition, the program provides services for faculty development to support their research, thus contributing to increased academic quality in the college.
The partnership between the College of Education and the Miami-Dade County Public Schools district established in this project resulted in the selection of one cohort of Latino administrators to pursue a doctorate in Educational Administration and Supervision. Additionally, three cohorts of Latino educators were recruited for completing a Master’s degree in Urban Education. The participants are employed in low performing schools in the district.
· The first cohort of 11 educators graduated in the spring of 2012; the second cohort of 10 graduated in the spring of 2014; and the third cohort of 15 educators have completed 18 of the 36-credit hour program and are scheduled to graduate in December 2015. Their average grade point averages have ranged from 3.8 to 3.7, with a graduation rate of 91%.
· Graduate student support services from the CLAVE project are available to all graduate students in the College with an enrollment of 975, over 55% of them Hispanic. Technical and academic writing assistance through the Office of Academic Writing and Publication Support is continually provided as a means of promoting collaborative research between faculty and graduate students. Over 50 travel awards have been provided to faculty and students to present manuscripts at various professional conferences.