By Janice Zummo, Co-Chair, Council of SEEK Program Directors and Director, MEC SEEK
As we introduce the first issue of the OSP Newsletter, Dorie Clay (SEEK Director at NYCCT SEEK and Co-Chair of the Council of SEEK Program Directors) and I thought about the many successful initiatives started in the SEEK and CD Programs that are now accepted as best practices on a national level. Summer programs were an integral component of the SEEK Program when it was introduced in 1966. Recognizing that students who were not college ready required a structured environment in which to address their remedial needs, summer programs were a means to prepare students to take college level courses and succeed academically. Today, higher education professionals still recognize the importance of addressing “disparities generated in primary education and secondary schooling, to develop the minimum skills deemed necessary for functional participation in the economy and the democracy, and to acquire the prerequisite competencies that are crucial for negotiating college-level coursework” (Bahr, 2008). The City University of New York places great faith in the power of summer programs to improve academic outcomes for students arriving at college with remedial needs. Paul Attewell (2013) and a team of researchers found that students who participated in CUNY’s University Summer Immersion Program(USIP) had slightly higher retention and accumulated more college credits than those who did not participate. These findings are consistent with the outcomes achieved by SEEK students who participate in the mandatory SEEK summer program. To date, thousands of SEEK students have enrolled in summer programs, exiting remedial courses, improving their college readiness, and learning about college policies and procedures to smooth their transition into college. Thousands of students have graduated and are now contributing members of society. As higher education strives to address the needs of a significantly underprepared student population, the SEEK and CD programs continue to serve as models for how to improve academic outcomes for students who otherwise would not have been admitted to college.