Access and Success in Practice: Scaling the Texas OnRamps Model and Network
Jennifer Saenz and Jennifer Porter, The University of Texas at Austin

OnRamps logo

Friday, April 26

This presentation will include 1) a discussion of the shared challenges of high school and higher education, 2) a review of best practices to address these shared challenges, and 3) an examination of tools to address the problems faced within the K-12 landscape.

For every student who enrolls in ninth grade in Texas public schools, only 22% complete a college degree or certificate within six years of high school. College success is a problem across Texas—worse so for low-income, underrepresented students.

The University of Texas has created an innovative and replicable initiative to drive upward mobility, with a focus on the transition from high school to college. This initiative, known as OnRamps, provides dual enrollment courses and educator professional development in K-12 schools in order to increase the number and diversity of students who engage in learning experiences aligned with the expectations of leading research universities.

OnRamps serves not only 29,407 students—more than half of whom are first-generation—but 928 educators, 313 campuses and 151 districts across Texas. OnRamps students are exposed to the academic and social expectations of a college classroom and empowered to take on the role of college student at a low risk, due in part to their status as non-matriculated, non-major students and a scaffolded support system. OnRamps educators and district partners are engaged in robust professional development and learning, which is designed to promote collective growth and peer interaction, and to ensure students can learn in and outside of the classroom.

Now in its seventh year, the impact of OnRamps is telling.

  • 72% of OnRamps students enroll in two- and four-year colleges, compared to 56% of non-OnRamps students across Texas.
  • Among 2016 high school graduates in Texas, 56.7% of low-income, credit-eligible OnRamps students enrolled in a four-year institution compared to 19.5% of low-income, non-OnRamps students.
  • OnRamps Hispanic students are approximately twice as likely to enroll in four-year colleges, compared to non-OnRamps students, more specifically 40.4% versus 20.4%.
  • 44% of Black students who completed an OnRamps course in high school earned a GPA above 2.5 in their first year of college—7 percentage points above the state.