REL West partnered with the Canyons School District in Sandy, UT (Salt Lake City metro area) for an evening focused on increasing students' access to college. The event brought together district and school leaders, school/community site council leaders, and key community leaders to learn about current research and apply it to the district's ongoing efforts to improve postsecondary outcomes for all Canyons students.

For more information, please contact:

Meg Livingston Asensio


Pathways to College: Increasing Access to Postsecondary Education for All Canyons School District Students

May 05, 2010

Hidden Canyon Country Club
11820 South Highland Drive
Sandy, Utah

The goal of this event was to ground participants in education research findings related to effective strategies for increasing college access so that they can develop research-based action plans to increase postsecondary pathways in their school district. A second goal was to strengthen participant understanding of the strategies recommended in the featured practice guide, as well as why and how research is important in making decisions of education policy and practice.


Tracy Scott Cowdell, President of the Canyons School District Board of Education, welcomed participants, shared his personal story as a first generation college-goer, and provided a brief summary of the Board's goals.

David Doty, Superintendent of Canyons School District, provided the context for the evening, explaining where district efforts are currently, how the research presented will inform the planning process for the district, and how parents and community members can be more involved in supporting students’ access to postsecondary education.

Meg Livingston Asensio, Manager of Education Research Dissemination at REL West, provided a brief overview of the What Works Clearinghouse and IES practice guides, including the levels of research for the practice guide recommendations.

Neal Finkelstein, Co-Director of Experimental Research at REL West and member of the practice guide panel, presented the five recommendations in Helping Students Navigate the Path to College: What High Schools Can Do — strategies that high schools can implement to better prepare students for college. A Q&A session with both Dr. Doty and Dr. Finkelstein followed his remarks.

BethAnn Berliner, Senior Research Associate at REL West, facilitated a table discussion activity. Table teams discussed specific ways that schools, the district, parents, students , community members, and institutions of higher education can support increased postsecondary access for Canyons students.

Hollie Pettersson, Secondary Director of Evidence-Based Learning, and Sue Malone, Principal of Hillcrest High School, Canyons School District, shared their experiences as first-generation college-goers. A video of Canyons students discussing their college-going aspirations and plans closed the evening.

How can we help you?

Do you want to know the latest research or where to turn for information? This free collaborative service from the 10 RELs provides references, referrals, and brief responses to education questions. To ask a question, visit the national portal and select REL West -- or directly.

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