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Ivy Tech K-12 Director: Graduation rates will increase with community’s help

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SOUTH BEND, Ind.—Ivy Tech South Bend-Elkhart’s Director of K-12 Initiatives says graduation rates will increase with the right “cradle to career” strategies for reaching K-12 students.

Ivy Tech South Bend-Elkhart belongs to the statewide community college’s North Central campus.

Data from the State of Indiana shows that the rate of degree completion for an associate’s degree has fallen 3.4 percent from what it was in 2017.

Ivy Tech North Central is one of three Ivy Tech campuses across the state to see a decrease.

A draft of an investment prospectus for the City of South Bend funded by Mayor Pete Buttigieg-backed organization, Accelerator for America, identified a lack of a clear “cradle-to-career” strategy, and the need for a strong community college presence.

Dr. Malinda Mansfield, Director of K-12 Initiatives for Ivy Tech South Bend-Elkhart, says “cradle-to-career” is largely defined by the development of both soft and hard skills of young students, with help from the community.

Mansfield says this type of strategy is present in the local area, thanks to programs like dual credit, which allow students to earn college credit for courses they take while in high school.

Since 2014, Ivy Tech South Bend-Elkhart has granted over 150,000 hours of dual credit to students preparing for their futures.

“We have saved the community over $20 million in tuition with dual credit programming,” Mansfield said.

Mansfield works with 31 area K-12 schools, often with middle school students, on developing soft skills such as communication, organization, and time management.

Once students reach high school, the partnership blossoms into participation in dual credit programs, internships, or Ivy Tech’s Associate’s degree.

“I think certainly we can come together more as a community. When we have multiple community members at the table and multiple principals, vice principals and superintendents working with our administrators and k-12 department at Ivy Tech, when we have more people come to the table it seems that we accomplish more and student success increases once we are able to do that,” Mansfield said.

Ivy Tech South Bend-Elkhart’s dual credit programs started serving about 500 students in 2013. Now, it is serving 7000 students in area K-12 schools.

“We will see an increase [in graduation rates] once we have these programs set in stone. We expect to see results in 3-4 years,” Mansfield said.

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