Ascender Model

Catch The Next! Ascender Model
Academic Level
Community-Based Organization
Issue Area
Academic Program
Key Personnel
Program Focus
Developmental Coursework,
Faculty Training


The Ascender Program provides academic, emotional-social, and community support for Latino and other under served community college students to increase the number of students who successfully complete developmental coursework, increase the number of students who successfully complete first-year college-level coursework in gatekeeper courses such as English and Math, and increase the number of students who graduate from the community college and transfer to a four-year college or university. Faculty and administrators in our program participate in 3 professional development seminars earning a total of 5 graduate credits from the University of Texas at Austin, Department of Educational Leadership and Policy.

Program Description

The Program has three components:

1) Navigational support: students receive counseling & career advising before they register for classes. Once registered, students take a “Learning frameworks” course focused on study skills and time management.

2) Academic pathway: In the second semester, students move into college-level English course with the same instructor to support their transition into college- level coursework.

3) Student engagement: Students are engaged with mentors from their community and participate in the Ascender Scholar Club where they learn leadership and organizational skills.

Counseling, mentoring, familia and student leadership provide Latino students with support, a sense of belonging, and motivation to succeed and lead their communities. We added advisors to college teams who focus on course and career selection. In addition, CTN staff provides a sequence of 3 college seminars at the University of Texas at Austin to faculty and administrators implementing CTN’s Ascender Framework for Student Advancement. The summer seminar grants 3 graduate credits (Education 383) the seminar is titled: Topics in Community Colleges.


Over five years, CTN has trained 126 faculty and staff from throughout Texas in their model.

Productive grade rate data from Integrated Reading and Writing courses at all of their participating colleges show that from 2012-2016, Ascender students successfully completed developmental reading and writing at an average rate of 80%, whereas state averages remain near 60-65%. In 2012, only 30% of underprepared students in Texas completed a college-level composition course. By contrast, in its first year 85% of students completed college-level English. Students in the program successfully complete Composition I at an average rate 20 points higher than their peers at their respective colleges. In Texas, 27% of Latino community college students graduate or transfer within four years of enrollment. By contrast, the average four-year graduation/transfer rate across the three founding CTN colleges (94% total Latino student population) is 39%.