Summer Running Start Pilot Makes Strides Reaching Underserved High School Students


Submitted by South Puget Sound Community College

In 2021, South Puget Sound Community College (SPSCC) became one of three schools in Washington State to participate in a two-year Summer Running Start pilot program funded by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) through House Bill 2864. This year, SPSCC has seen great success in enrollment, showcasing how high school students are making the most of the year-round Running Start program’s flexibility.

This Summer Quarter, SPSCC served a total of 226 Running Start students from 19 high schools, enrolled in 396 classes. Additionally, 37 of this year’s high school graduates participated to finish their final credits needed to complete their associate degree at SPSCC.

The highest enrolled classes for Summer Running Start students include math, art, English, communications courses, and College & Career Success (CCS). CCS 101 is a required SPSCC course that introduces the mindset and skills necessary for students to become confident, reflective, self-directing, and successful learners at college. Summer Running Start allows high school students to complete this requirement and have a strong foundation to continue in higher education.

The program also experienced huge gains in ethnic representation. Last year, 17% of enrolled Summer Running Start students identified as a student of color. This year, that number jumped up to 35%. Additionally, around half of the students qualified for financial aid supported under the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief grant and other state grant funding.

The Summer Running Start pilot program is focused on reaching underserved high school students. The program will continue to help OSPI evaluate interest in a year-round Running Start program and explore the barriers that keep students from participating.

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