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U of M launches statewide program designed to close achievement gap, prepare students for post-secondary education

President Kaler to recognize participating schools at June 4 event

May 30, 2012

Media note: Ramp-Up program director Kent Pekel, program coordinator Jim Beirma and Austin-based Ellis Middle School principal Kathleen Bergland, a Ramp-Up participant, will meet with reporters at 2 p.m. on June 4 at the St. Paul Student Center’s Northstar Ballroom. For details, call Nina Shepherd at 612-625-5716.  

University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler will launch an innovative new college readiness program for Minnesota middle and high school students at 2:30 p.m. Monday, June 4 at the St. Paul Student Center’s Northstar Ballroom on the university’s St. Paul campus.

The statewide program—called Ramp-Up to Readiness™—is one of several new university partnerships aimed at closing the achievement gaps that exist among student groups in Minnesota’s elementary and secondary schools and increasing the number of students who graduate from high school with the knowledge, skills and habits for success in higher education.

The event will feature high school principals and guidance counselors representing 36 participating Ramp-Up schools from throughout Minnesota. The schools—district, charter and alternative schools located in rural, urban and suburban areas—represent a cross-section of Minnesota’s K-12 schools and are among the first to adopt the program to be implemented this fall.

“Ramp-Up to Readiness is the next step in the University of Minnesota’s long-term commitment to help our state’s schools close the achievement gap and ensure that all of our children have the educational skills and habits that go hand-in-hand with a higher quality of life,” said Kaler.

“With the Ramp-Up network of schools, we’re also bridging the historic gap between the K-12 and higher education systems by bringing university resources to middle school and high school counseling services.”

Developed at the University of Minnesota, the research-based Ramp-Up program features an engaging curriculum, a series of supports for students and a technology platform that personalizes the process of preparing for and gaining admission to a postsecondary institution—whether a four-year college or university, or a technical or community college. The curriculum can be organized to meet the needs of each school’s students and reflect the realities of varying schedules and calendars.

According to a growing body of research, by 2018 more than 70 percent of jobs in Minnesota will require some form of education past high school. Currently, only 40 percent of Minnesota adults have a two-year associate’s degree or higher.

“We have found that programs like Ramp-Up are often a critical missing piece of many school reform strategies,” said Kent Pekel, director of the university’s College Readiness Consortium and developer of the Ramp-Up program. “It’s important to raise standards and offer more challenging courses, but we also need to help students develop the motivation and the habits of persistence to take advantage of those increased opportunities.”

For more details about the program, visit For more information on the University of Minnesota’s College Readiness Consortium, visit

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