Reimagine Learning

ROC the Future: Improving Student Outcomes Is Not Impossible

At today’s State of Our Children Address, provided by the ROC the Future initiative and hosted by the Rochester Business Journal, we were reminded of a sobering statistic: of the Rochester graduates who enrolled in a local college this past year, only 18% were deemed college-ready in both math and science.

Here at Second Avenue Learning, we are observing a growing demand for remedial reading, math, and science education support for students who are just entering college. As a result, we are exploring digital solutions that can provide mobile, flexible remediation in areas that are critical for college success. This is important and exciting work, but the need for this type of product is sobering.

In Rochester, NY only 51% of students in our city schools graduate from high school. As early as the third grade, our students are performing well below expected levels in both reading and writing. These trends extend all the way back to pre-kindergarten, with only 64% of our students demonstrating school-readiness.

Clearly, we have much work to do in our own community, but what we are seeing in Rochester is part of a larger national education crisis. Low income and minority students in the U.S. graduate at a rate almost 15 percentage points lower than those in higher income and majority brackets (Building a Grad Nation report2015). Those who do go on to college are not ready to succeed – only 25% of high school graduates nationwide possess adequate skills and knowledge needed in college courses (Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, 2015).

We are proud that our community is working hard to find creative and collaborative ways to improve student outcomes, as evidenced by the work of the ROC the Future initiative, the Rochester Anti-Poverty Initiative, and longstanding programs such as the Hillside Work-Scholarship Connection.

Our primary research has shown us that while improving student outcomes can be challenging, it is not impossible. One of our major findings has been that a student’s sense of self-efficacy, confidence, and affiliation with a school subject is tied to engagement and persistence, both necessary qualities for learning.  We are particularly interested in project-based learning and rich digital interactive media experiences as methods for achieving these goals. These tools, when placed in the hands of our teachers, can provide opportunities for success for all students.

As we continue to innovate at Second Avenue Learning, we are excited to know that our products will work hand-in-hand with other community efforts toward helping our other 82% get ready for college.

To learn more about our college readiness innovations, research, and cross-disciplinary team, please email or visit

We also encourage you to visit the websites of our community partners to learn more about our community’s commitment to improving the lives of Rochester’s children and future citizens.