Partnerships for College Success
The University of Maine at Farmington and Dirigo High School
Since 1999, the University of Maine at Farmington (UMF) and Dirigo High School (DHS) have partnered through GEARUP to prepare western Maine’s middle and high school students for college. In 2005, 84% of the partnership’s first high school graduating class intended to pursue further education—more than double the 37% of graduates headed for college before the partnership began. The UMF-DHS partnership, which joined the PCS initiative in 2005, has particular strengths in creating data systems to monitor students’ college persistence and success.
The University of Maine at Farmington, a selective public liberal arts college, offers its 2,000 students programs in teacher education, human services, and the arts and sciences. The university prides itself on engaging with the surrounding community, and its students volunteer and student-teach in the area as part of UMF’s service-learning curriculum. In 2006, U.S.News & World Report ranked Farmington among the nation’s best colleges for the ninth consecutive year.
Dirigo High School, located in Dixfield, Maine, serves 330 students from small towns in the hills of western Maine with a combined population of approximately 4,000. A significant proportion of the district’s parents work in local paper mills, with just 17% holding college degrees. Roughly 36% of students in the district are eligible for free or reduced-cost lunches. College attendance in this rural area has traditionally been low, with only one-third to one-half of Dirigo graduates going on to college. The GEAR-UP initiative has been recognized as an exceptional success in directing Dirigo graduates to higher education, and the UMF-DHS partners are now working to track and assess these graduates’ college outcomes.
The UMF-DHS partnership brings to the PCS initiative considerable analytical strengths. As part of its GEAR UP program, UMF-DHS has already developed a database that can be expanded for collection of all needed PCS data on both aggregate and individualized student performance. The UMF-DHS partners also have a strong track record in bringing together high school and college stakeholders to create these data systems, develop operating definitions of college readiness, and explore scope and sequenced curricula in core content areas. Based on these successes, UMF-DHS has emerged as the Partnerships for College Success’ lead data management site and warehouse for data collection and analysis.
The primary contact people for the UMF-DHS partnership are Ann Marie Simone, Director of the UMF Partnerships for Success program at (207) 778-7587 or (207) 491-8668; and Dorrea Fellman, College Access Coordinator for UMF Partnerships for Success at (207) 562-4251 or (207) 491-5665.