A seven-year study has found that students from the Center for Advanced Research and Technology attend college at a higher rate than their peers, findings that local school officials had long suspected.
The study, funded by the James Irvine Foundation and conducted by California Partnership for Achieving Student Success, a data-collection organization, also showed that CART students were more likely to be in college a second year.
The program is viewed as a state model and is leading Clovis Unified officials to consider a similar effort for younger students.
Clovis Unified Superintendent David Cash said one of the Clovis school board's aims is to expand CART-type programs. District officials are in the early stages of developing a program for students in grades 5-10.
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CART's 1,310 students come from Fresno and Clovis Unified high schools. They attend for half the school day in their junior and senior years.
Clovis Unified has undertaken several projects that use a similar model, including the Buchanan Energy Academy, the health sciences program at Clovis North and building trades and construction at Clovis High School.
"Though they are not directly affiliated with CART, we are modeling what we know to be a successful approach in these programs," said Kelly Avants, Clovis Unified spokeswoman.
CART students learn in project-based classes taught by a team of teachers and members of the business community. CART was mentioned last year in a state study of multiple education pathways programs and has hosted school officials from across the country and around the world.
The seven-year study made public Tuesday examines community college and university enrollment rates among students who did and didn't attend CART.
By 11 percentage points, students who attend CART are more likely than their peers in Fresno or Clovis Unified high schools to go to a community college. CART students also led their peers in enrollments on a California State University or University of California campus by 2 percentage points.
"This appears to be a very significant study because of the length of time [examined]," said Keith Edmonds, manager of the high school transformation unit for the California Department of Education.
The report also showed that students from CART were more likely to go to college regardless of gender, race or socioeconomic background, said John Forbes, CART's dean of curriculum and instruction.
Fresno Unified Superintendent Michael Hanson said he is advising his own children to attend CART.
"A measure for all educators," he said, "is, would we want our kids there."