CBS: WCU Prof’s Mentorship Program Closes an Achievement Gap One Student at a Time

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Dr. Tammy James, a WCU professor, has launched a pilot program to provide support to Black male students who are struggling academically, writes Madeleine Wright for CBS Philly.

Compass pairs Black male undergrads with Black male graduate students, who meet once a week to monitor the student’s academic progress and connect them with resources.

“They literally spend a half-hour to an hour going over their classes, their assignments, looking at their planner,” said the WCU professor.

Dr. James noticed a troubling trend and was prompted into creating the Compass program.

“The data showed that we have an achievement gap on our campus between our male students of color, particularly our African-American males, and the rest of the student population,” the WCU professor said.

The Compass program has helped more than 30 undergraduate students, and there are signs that it is helping turn the tide. The four-year graduation rate for Black males, which was 13 percent before the program was implemented, has risen to 19.8 percent. The overall four-year graduation rate is 52.6 percent.

“Making a difference, getting one student graduate helps us to kind of close the gap, little by little,” said James.

Read more about the program at CBS Philly.