East Los Angeles College's (ELAC's) Jaime Escalante Math Program is a unique partnership between ELAC and 128 area high schools and middle schools. The Escalante Program offers an integrated sequence of intermediate and advanced mathematics coursework, grounded on the commitment of each student and instructor to a rigorous schedule. Classes are designed to cover one year of course work (two semesters) in six weeks. Participants meet for four hours a day, five days a week for a total of 120 hours. To ensure course effectiveness, standardized tests are given at the beginning and end of each session. All students take the UCLA Math Readiness exams before they finish the program; results are used to evaluate the program and to recommend students for the next level. Escalante students receive quality instruction, personal attention, and tutoring. Very few high school students fail to respond to faculty who really care that they succeed. Typical high school math classes diverge from the basics, spending time with set theory, manipulatives, coaching for test-taking, and many other topics. The program encourages students to concentrate on math -- nothing but math. Acknowledging that in Latino culture the family is a tight knit unit, a parental involvement component has been implemented to aid retention of students enrolled in the program, as well as to keep parents updated on their child's progress.
Started in 1983, the goal of the Escalante Program is to engage disadvantaged inner-city youth in a demanding academic regimen of pre-college and college level mathematics to prepare them to take the Advanced Placement Calculus examinations and succeed in college level math courses.
In fall 2004, an area high school that was not being serviced by the Escalante Program had a total of 40 students enrolled in Algebra 1AB with a failure rate of 61%. The Escalante program was implemented that summer and three years later (in 2007), enrollment in Algebra 1AB classes increased to 161 students with a failure rate of only 16%. During this period, the school also experienced an increased percentage of students who scored in the advanced and proficient categories of the math state, from 7% to 38%. The rate for 10th graders passing the CAHSEE in 2004-07 went from 59% to 73%. The number of students taking calculus each of the past three years has more than doubled, from four in 2005 to 11 in 2007, with projections for 50 in 2009. At this rate, about 15% of the high school population will be taking calculus by 2010.
This program was recognized as an Honorable Mention for making innovative and/or significant improvement in increasing Latino student success.