California GEAR UP focuses on academic excellence for all students in order to develop a college-going culture at the middle school. But GEAR UP is more than that and different from other programs. For example:
- GEAR UP is not just for the gifted, honors and academically able students—it is for ALL students including those who never think about going to college after high school.
- California GEAR UP is unique in that it provides professional development for the middle grades adult community—the principals, teachers, counselors and families—that most impact student development. The program also monitors student performance, working collaboratively with other direct service to student efforts at the school site.
- GEAR UP is not a program where tools and resources are used once—it is a program that allows staff to self-determine the next step of when and how to use the School Self-Assessment Rubric and Resources & Materials Clearinghouse. The SSAR tool can assist staff to assess their current culture based on six conditions. The Clearinghouse has educator-made resources, ready to use.
- GEAR UP is not just for teachers and administrators—it is to build awareness for the parents, families, even grandparents, who never went to college or even graduated from high school, and may be from another country. These services are provided by Parent Institute for Quality Education (PIQE) and Family Initiatives Project (FIP)
- GEAR UP is not a prescribed training—it offers workshops with tested strategies from partners, such as College Board, AVID, and ACT, from which the Leadership Team determines what to take advantage of.
- GEAR UP is not only for this school—it is also about building collaborations with colleges, community colleges and community businesses to support a college-going culture.
- GEAR UP is not only school-based services—it also offers statewide services through its video, pocket guide to colleges, College: Making It Happen sessions, a website, newsletters, and its participation in many middle school collaboratives.
- GEAR UP is not just a program for two years—it is building the capacity of the organization to sustain a college-going culture without GEAR UP funds.
- GEAR UP is a program being constantly refined, based on reflections from participants and research-based studies.
By participating in California GEAR UP, each school has the means to achieve our program goal:
“To develop and sustain the organizational capacity of middle schools to prepare ALL students for high school and postsecondary education through the establishment of a statewide infrastructure, or network of support, for the adults who influence middle school students, specifically their faculty, counselors, school leaders, and families. As a result of this expanded capacity, a higher proportion of students, particularly those from backgrounds and communities that have not historically pursued a college education, will enroll and succeed in postsecondary education.”