Why Breakthrough Silicon Valley?
As a leader in technology and innovation, Silicon Valley’s competitive edge is dependent on highly educated individuals. Yet in California, our public school system is not providing equal access or adequate funding for all our students to thrive.
This is particularly true of students motivated to succeed but who are of color, from low-income families or the first in their families to aspire to attend college. Without support, risk factors may derail their hopes.
In California, just 13% of the Latino population holds a Bachelor’s degree (Cities for CEOs 2009). And one in five Santa Clara County youth do not complete high school, including 1/3 of Latino youth. Sixty-five percent of high-income students are enrolled in a college prep curriculum, as compared to only 28% of low-income students. In 2008-09, less than 25 percent of Silicon Valley’s Latino students met college preparation (UC/CSU) course requirements compared to over 70 percent of Asians and over 50 percent of Whites, according to the California Department of Education.
The Breakthrough Silicon Valley program model is research-based and exists to reverse these trends. We are singularly focused around ensuring that BSV students have the support and opportunities they need to be successful in middle school, high school and college.
Breakthrough Silicon Valley is a Research-Based Program Model
Why does Breakthrough work with academically motivated, high-potential underserved students?
- Research shows that early academic success is not a guarantee of high school success or college success, particularly for low-income students. In fact, the highest-achieving low-income 8th grade students ultimately graduate college at about the same rate as the lowest-achieving high-income 8th grade students. (National Center for Education Statistics, The Condition of Education, 2003, Table 22).
Why does Breakthrough recruit students in the middle grades?
- Research from Johns Hopkins University found that “during the middle grades, students in high-poverty environments are either launched on the path to high school graduation or knocked off-track.” (Balfanz, Putting Middle Grades Students on the Graduation Path, 2009)
- We target 7th and 8th graders because national research has shown that the transition point from middle school to high schools is a crucial moment for a child’s scholastic success. Most high school students formalize their educational plans between 8th and 10th grade suggesting that interventions to influence students’ educational aspirations are most likely to succeed if they happen by 8th or 9th grade. (Schmit and Vesper, 1999)
Why does Breakthrough provide an academically intense 6-week summer session with accelerated learning in English literature, math, science, social studies and foreign language?
- Research shows that two-thirds of the ninth grade reading achievement gap between low- and higher-income students can be attributed to unequal access to summer learning opportunities. (National Center for Summer Learning – Alexander, K., Entwisle, D., and Olson, L. (2007). Lasting consequences of the summer learning gap. American Sociological Review, 72, 167-180)
Why does Breakthrough focus on getting students into college-preparatory high school programs?
- Nationally, only 28% of low-income students are enrolled in a college- preparatory curriculum during their high school years. Yet research shows that bachelor’s degree completion increases when students have a strong high school curriculum, particularly for low-income students. (Gates Education Policy Paper. Closing the graduation gap: Toward high schools that prepare all students for college, work and citizenship. 2003; Adelman, U.S. Department of Education, The Toolbox Revisited, 2006)
Why does Breakthrough monitor students’ courses and grades and provide academic support to students throughout the school year in middle school and high school?
- Research shows that underserved students are more likely to fall off the path to college and that they and their families are less likely “to know about the repercussions of current course choices on future class placements, to know about the differences between high school curricular tracks, or to feel entitled to request changes to higher‐level courses for their children” (Vargas, J. (2004) College Knowledge: Addressing Information Barriers to College. Boston, MA: The Education Resources Institute).
Why does Breakthrough use a “students teaching students” model?
- Research shows that having peers who are planning to attend college can be even more important than parental encouragement and support. One study showed that students are four times more likely to enroll in college if their peers intend to enroll in college as well. Breakthrough creates peer groups among students and their teachers where high academic achievement is expected and college-going is the norm.
For more information, see Breakthrough’s Research Brief – Factors that Support Academic Success.