PUEO Receives Innovation Award from College Board

February 26, 2013

The Clarence T.C. Ching PUEO Program at Punahou School was honored as one of the best in the country at helping low-income students get into college and hailed as a national model for improving access to higher education.

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College Board Vice President Ronald Williams presented the award at the organization’s Western Regional Forum in San Diego on Feb. 23, 2013. “Each year, the College Board seeks to honor the very best programs in the country that provide extraordinary service to low-income students,” he said. “Punahou School’s Clarence T.C. Ching PUEO program, which successfully motivates students to develop the skills necessary for success in college, certainly exceeds our highest expectations.”

The program was one of six across the nation and the only one in Hawai‘i recognized in the category “Getting In,” building upon the Innovation Award PUEO received in 2010 in the category “Getting Ready.”

Punahou President Jim Scott ’70 and PUEO Director Carl Ackerman were on hand to receive the honor. Scott expressed humble gratitude in accepting the award on behalf of PUEO’s teachers; the School’s funding partners, especially the Clarence T.C. Ching Foundation; “the entire Punahou School community, which has embraced the aspiration and the vision of a private school with a public purpose and … the PUEO students and their families, whose hard work, persistence, resilience and high expectations for themselves are changing the trajectory of their lives forever, while inspiring us to stay the course.”

PUEO, launched in 2005 in partnership with Hawai‘i’s Department of Education, is designed to motivate public-school students to develop the skills and confidence to excel in school, aspire to and succeed in college, and contribute to Hawai‘i’s future. Forty students enter each year as sixth-graders in public schools, and remain with the program for seven summers. Participants are recommended by their principals, and must come from the middle 60 percent of their class academically and participate in the free or reduced-price lunch program. Today, the number of partner schools has grown to 50 and the program is among the largest and most comprehensive in the country, according to The CollegeKeys Compact 2013 Catalog of Effective Practices. Currently, PUEO serves more than 360 students, including monitoring those who have gone on to college.

In middle school, PUEO students attend Punahou Summer School classes, which are supplemented by tutoring in writing and mathematics. In high school, PUEO students continue with specifically designed summer courses in which they may earn up to 2½ graduation credits, enabling them to take more college-prep courses during the school year, an opportunity for PUEO students that is unique in the nation. PUEO pays for college-entrance testing, coordinates visits to public and private colleges throughout the state, and provides students with personalized college counseling. Of the 40 students in the 2012 graduating cohort, 80 percent have been with the program for at least five years, and 70 percent for the full length of the program.

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