SANTA ROSA – Roseland School District is embarking on a district-wide program to ensure that Roseland students who enter a college or university actually complete their post-high school studies and graduate with a degree.

 The program, created at the conclusion of a one-year study by Roseland staff and representatives of Sonoma State University and Santa Rosa Junior College, provides a series of action plans for improving the college success rates of Roseland children, a majority of whom come from Hispanic/Latino families and are English learners and economically disadvantaged.

 The plans set both short and long-term goals for meeting challenges in college performance by Roseland University Prep graduates now enrolled in public and private universities and colleges.

 One course of action, for instance, focuses on increasing English and Math proficiency at the college level by 2015.

 Other action plans address college performance challenges faced by children in the Roseland community by developing new teaching strategies beginning in the second grade.

 The plan also provides a Parent Education Plan for families of children enrolled at every grade level, from pre-school to the senior year in high school, to ensure that parents understand what a college education can mean for their children and how they can help them achieve a college degree.

 The plans of action are contained in “Through College Task Force Findings,” a report to the Roseland community completed in January and now being distributed district-wide and to the community.

 Academic difficulties faced by college students is not unique to only the Roseland district.  As reported last summer, (Press Democrat, July 20, 2010), about half of all freshmen enrolled in California state university campuses lack the skills needed to succeed in college classes, especially math and English.

 Gail Ahlas, superintendent of Roseland, said her district was aware of the problem a year earlier.

 “We had been successful in focusing our energies to graduate our students and make sure they qualified to enter college,” she said. “Our graduation rate – 95 percent – is among the very best, and most recent statistics show that 65 percent of our  students have met the UC/CSC subject requirements.”

“But we began hearing that our graduates were finding college work difficult so we decided to find out why and what we could do about it,” she said. “We now have a plan to help our college-bound students ‘go  the distance’ and get that degree.”

Findings and action plans included in the Task Force Executive Summary include:


Though RUP has a near perfect graduation rate not all Roseland students enrolled in college are performing college level freshman Math and English.

Students do not understand the college world and bureaucracy and lack skills to overcome obstacles to college success.

Many students lack essential organizational, time management and study schools.

Many students and their families do not understand that a college education is attainable and are unable to provide financial support for their students nor understand the financial aid process.


 Action Plans

In four years, 2015, a majority of RUP students will place in college level math and English.

90 percent of RUP students will enroll in a least one Advanced Placement course while at RUP to introduce them to the rigors of college level course work.

Beginning in the early elementary school years, students will be introduced to study, critical thinking, and organizational skills necessary for educational success.

Parents and students will know that a college degree is valuable and attainable for their children and what they need to do to help their children succeed academically.


In an introduction, the Task Force report said its findings and action plan “could hardly be more timely” given comments by President Obama in his State of the Union message:

“Our nation’s economic competitiveness depends on providing every child with an education that will enable them to compete in a global economy that is predicted on knowledge and innovation. Our competitiveness abroad depends on opening the doors of higher education for more of American’s students, and it is America’s shared responsibility to ensure that more of our students not only reach the doors of college, but all persist, succeed and obtain their degree.”

Locally, the report said, all of Sonoma County has a vested interest in residents of Roseland both as workers and consumers.

“Hispanic/Latinos are the largest and fastest growing demographic group in Sonoma County. It is not simply an issue of social justice, it is a matter of competitive advantage and business/corporate survival that is causing community and business leaders to pay close attention to the country’s largest growing ethnic group,” the report said.

Roseland School District educates 2,100 students in two elementary schools, Roseland School and Sheppard School; Roseland Accelerated Middle School, and Roseland University Prep High School. It also operates Apples and Bananas pre-school and will break ground in 2011 on a new elementary school, Roseland Creek Elementary, on Burbank Avenue to serve growing neighborhoods on the western border of the district.

For more information or a copy of the report, call Gail Ahlas, (707) 545-0102.