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SoCal Regional Event EdCamp Schedule and Materials


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An edcamp is a user-generated conference – commonly referred to as an “unconference” that relies on open space organizational technology to drive engagement at professional development activities. Edcamps are designed to provide participant-driven professional development for K-12 educators. Unlike traditional conferences, sessions are not planned or scheduled until the morning of the event using a scheduling board on which attendees can place an index card or post it notes with their potential topic session on it. This type of event:

  • is an ad-hoc gathering born from the desire for people to share and learn in an open environment
  • is an intense event with discussions, demos and interaction from participants who are the main actors of the event

This GEAR UP version of an edcamp is takes place with California GEAR UP schools from all across southern California and will focus on academic topics to support a the creation of a college going culture.

The purpose of California GEAR UP is to develop and sustain the organizational capacity of middle schools to prepare all students for high school and higher education through a statewide network of support for adults who influence middle school students, specifically their counselors, faculty, school leaders and families. As a result of this expanded capacity, a higher proportion of students, particularly from backgrounds and communities that have not historically pursued a college education, will enroll and succeed in higher education.

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Robert’s presentation focused on taking an objective look at Depth of Knowledge in math assessments.

Robert Kaplinsky-Featured Speaker

Robert Kaplinsky has worked in education for over ten years as a classroom teacher, district math teacher specialist, and University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) instructor.  He graduated from UCLA with a Bachelors of Science in Mathematics / Applied Science (Computer Science) in 2000 and earned his Masters of Education in 2005.

He has presented and done professional development at many schools and universities across the United States.  Robert has been published by Education Weekand the American Educational Research Association (AERA).  He has consulted for major publishers including Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Pearson.  Robert is a member of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics (NCSM), California Mathematics Council, Orange County Math Council (OCMC), and Greater Los Angeles Mathematics Council (GLAMC).  He also co-founded the Southern California Math Teacher Specialist Network, a group that includes over 75 math teacher specialists from more than 5 counties.

Here are the materials from his presentation, which can also be found on his extremely useful website.


Problem-Based Lessons Used

Common Core State Standards Resources

New GEAR UP Awards Announced will help 116,000 Students


U. S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan today announced the award of $82 million for 41 grants under Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) that will help 116,000 at-risk students to prepare for college and receive the support they need to achieve success in postsecondary education.

Secretary Duncan announced the grantees in New York City at the launch of American Graduate Day, a public awareness and community engagement program to celebrate the work of individuals and groups across the country who are helping students stay on track to college and career successes.

“GEAR UP partnerships and state grants are inspiring examples of communities taking a stand for excellence and equity in education, investing in student success, and creating a culture that helps all young people achieve,” Secretary Duncan said. “I commend all the recipients for their relentless efforts to help students realize their potential through college readiness, access and completion.”

Two types of grants are being awarded: $51,420,120 for 31 partnership grants in 19 states, and $31,264,008 for 10 state grants to Alabama, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia.

Both state and partnership awards are competitive, six or seven-year matching grant programs that target entire grades of students, partner with local organizations and businesses, and include matching local contributions and in-kind services. Grantees serve an entire group of students, usually beginning no later than seventh-grade, and follow them throughout high school.

This year, applicants were encouraged to address how they plan to increase postsecondary success, implement college- and career-ready standards, and work in conjunction with Promise Zones – places where the federal government has partnered with local communities and businesses to create jobs, increase economic security, improve educational opportunities, and reduce violent crime.

State grants include both a required activities component and a scholarship component. The required activities component  seeks to increase college attendance and completion by raising low-income students’ awareness of college and financial aid options, increasing their participation in academically challenging courses, and supporting them through the college admissions process. The scholarship component requires the state to maintain a financial assistance program for GEAR UP students to attend institutions of higher education.

Partnership projects must include at least one low-income middle school, one college or university, and two community or business organizations. Partners work together to provide students and their families with a range of support services needed to prepare for college, including mentoring, counseling, tutoring, and summer programs to succeed in higher level math and other gateway college preparatory courses, as well as information about college and financial aid options.

Examples of this year’s grants include:

  • Berea College in Kentucky, which is already a recipient of our Investing in Innovation and Promise Neighborhood grants and is part of one of the five Promise Zones, is receiving about $5.5 million to partner a range of postsecondary institutions and key organizations with high-poverty school districts. They will serve almost 7,000 students in 37 schools by providing a comprehensive set of services–to parents, students and schools–that support a sustainable college-going culture.

  • Northeastern Illinois University and Chicago Public Schools District 299 will use its $5.78 million grant to transform the way schools prepare some 7,229 disadvantaged students for high school and success in college.; Beginning in 36 elementary and middle schools that feed into 14 high-needs Chicago public high schools, and partnering with eleven colleges and community based organizations, the project has three objectives: to increase academic preparation and performance of GEAR UP students in higher level math, English and science courses; increase high school graduation and college-going rate; and increase students’ own educational expectations by deepening their knowledge about the benefits of postsecondary education and the availability of student aid.

  • St. Johns University in New York City, N.Y., will use its grant of nearly $450,000 to improve the educational outcomes for 650 low-income, predominantly Hispanic and African-American students. Fourteen additional partners are collaborating on the project: two local education agencies, seven community-based organizations, one state agency, one college program, and three businesses – matching the federal grant dollar for dollar – to provide comprehensive mentoring, enriched technology, college awareness workshops, residential summer programs and a dual enrollment program. The goal is to increase high school graduation and postsecondary enrollment and decrease the need for remediation once students are in college.

  • The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education is receiving $3.4 million to use a collective-impact model that will partner colleges, businesses and non-profits, among others, with three urban school districts. The goal is to increase student achievement for nearly 3,000 students through data-driven decisions, develop a sustainable college-going culture, and establish a shared community vision for equitable college access and success.

  • State Council of Higher Education for Virginia will use its $3.4 million grant to help nearly 6,000 middle school students attending some 29 middle schools, including 300 homeless students.Through its partnership with school districts, colleges, non-profits, and business, the project will provide a comprehensive set of services to improve college readiness and increase college enrollment. The project will also follow students through their first year of college by providing mentoring and tutoring to ease their transition to postsecondary education.

In addition to the 41 new grants announced today, GEAR UP is funding 87 continuation projects begun in the last five years that are providing these comprehensive support services to approximately 450,000 middle and high school students.


Note to Editors: Attached are the GEAR UP grant awards, alphabetical by state, with contact information and award amount. State grants are marked with a double asterisk **.

FY 2014 Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP)

Alabama Birmingham City Schools, Birmingham — $2,919,674 Spencer Horn, shorn@bhm.k12.al.us, (205) 231-4674

The University of Alabama at Birmingham, — $3,500,000** Lawrence Tyson, ltyson@uab.edu, (205) 975-2491

Arizona Graham County Community College, Thatcher — $1,113,600 Carter McEuen, cartermceuen@eac.edu, (928)428-8275

California YPI Charter Schools, Arleta —$2,316,000 Jesse Noonan, jnoonan@ypiusa.org, (213)688-2802

Humboldt State University Sponsored Programs Foundation, Arcata —$443,614 Vikash Lakahni, vikash.lakahni@humboldt.edu, (707)826-5381

Los Angeles Unified School District, Los Angeles — $1,911,200 Micaela Vazques Hahn, mjv1705@lausd.net, (213)241-0145

University Corporation at Monterey Bay —$900,795 Joy Brittain, jbrittain@csumb.edu, (831) 582-3960

University Corporation at Monterey Bay —$1,209,199 Joy Brittain, jbrittain@csumb.edu, (831) 582-3960

University Enterprises Corporation at Cal State San Bernardino —$2,406,741 Stephen Villa Senor, Stephen@csusb.edu, (909)537-3200

The Regents of the University of California, Santa Cruz —$467,860 Yesenia Cervantes, yesenic@ucsc.edu, (831)459-1831

Colorado Weld County School District, Greeley —$714,859 David Reyes, dreyes@greeleyschools.org, (970) 348-6040

Florida Hillsborough County Public Schools, Tampa —$534,400 Lenegar Jazheel, jazheel.lenegar@sdhc.k12.fl.us, (813)272-4828

Hawaii University of Hawaii, Honolulu —$480,300 Amy Agbayani, Agbayani@hawaii.edu, (808)956-4567

Illinois Northeastern Illinois University, Chicago —$5,783,200 Wendy Stack, w-stack@neiu.edu, (312) 563-7232

East St. Louis School District #189, East St. Louis —$747,135 Demean Vaughn, demean.vaughn@estl189.com, (618) 646-3056

Iowa Iowa College Student Aid Commission, Des Moines —$3,206,922** Christina Sibouih, Christina.sibouih@iowa.gov, (515) 725-3101

Kansas University of Kansas Center for Research, Inc., Lawrence —$320,000 Ngondi Kamatuka, Kamatuka@ku.edu, (785)864-3401

Wichita State University, Wichita —$740,000 Riccardo Harris, Riccardo.harris.wichita.edu, (316) 978-7810

Wichita State University, Wichita —$740,000 Victor Chavez, vic.chavez@wichita.edu, (316) 978-7800

Kentucky Berea College, Berea —$5,513,600 Dreama Gentry, dreama_gentry@berea.edu, (859) 985-3853

Louisiana Lafayette Parish School System, Lafayette —$1,888,723 Traci Aucoin, traci@louisiana.edu, (337) 521-7165

Maine University of Maine, Farmington —$2,970,042** Kathryn Markovchick, Kathryn@syntiro.org, (207) 685-3171

Maryland Maryland State Department of Education, Baltimore —$2,176,389** Mary Howlett-Brandon, mahbrandon@msde.state.md.us, (410) 767-0367

Minnesota Special School District No. 1, Minneapolis —$2,048,000 Eric Molho, eric.molho@mpls.k12.mn.us, (612) 668-0549

New York Higher Education Services Corporation, Albany —$3,500,000** Jennifer Dwire, Jennifer.dwire@hesc.ny.gov, (518) 474-4060

St. John’s University, Queens —$442,729 Yvette Morgan, morgany@stjohns.edu, (718) 990-2532

North Carolina Appalachian State University Boone —$2,748,792 Jennifer Wilson-Kearse, wilsonkearsejj@appstate.edu, (828) 262-8016

Appalachian State University Boone —$1,436,840 Jennifer Wilson-Kearse, wilsonkearsejj@appstate.edu, (828) 262-8016

Ohio Ohio Board of Regents, Columbus —$3,500,000** Rebecca Watts, rwatts@regents.state.oh.us, (614) 466-0884

Oklahoma University of Central Oklahoma, Edmond —$719,200 Myron Pope, mpope5@uco.edu, (405) 974-5370

Oregon Oregon State University, Corvallis —$2,600,000** Stephanie Carnahan, carnahst@onid.oregonstate.edu, (541) 346-5761

School District 1J Multnomah County, Portland —$1,207,200 Angela Nusom, anusom@pps.net, (503) 916-5404

Pennsylvania Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, Harrisburg —$3,400,000** Sandi Sheppeard, ssheppeard@passhe.edu, (717) 703-7238

School District of Philadelphia —$4,370,400 Alexandre Robinson-Rogers, arobinsonrogers@philasd.org, (215) 400-6850

South Carolina Richland School District Two, Columbia —$1,377,206 Arlene Bakutes, abakutes@richland2.org, (803) 738-3316

Texas Desoto Independent School District, Desoto —$1,125,557 Debbye Garner, debbye.garner@desotoisd.org, (972) 274-8212

Texas A&M University-Kingsville —$1,043,996 Mary Gonzalez, kamlp00@tamuk.edu, (361) 593-2129

Virginia State Council of Higher Education, Richmond —$3,410,360)** Paula Fisher, paulafisher@schev.edu, (804) 225-2612

Washington Highline Public School, Burien —$1,156,000 (206) 631-3045

Central Washington University, Ellensburg —$2,593,600 Julie Guggino, gugginoj@cwu.edu, (509) 963-2640

West Virginia West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission, Charleston —$3,000,000** Adam Green, green@hepc.wvnet.edu, (304) 558-0655

National GEAR UP Week 2014 Open Thread

Monday September 22, 2014

NGUW Fattah



Join educators and policymakers all over the nation in celebrating the GEAR UP students, families, educators, and our many partners that work tirelessly to make higher education possible for so many. Join the campaign by:

  • Share the Congressman Fattah’s Video and Secretary Duncan’s Letter locally. Link to the Congressman’s Youtube video and download Secretary Duncan’s letter (see below) for use in your local campaign–let’s get the word out at all levels!

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  • Getting social on Twitter and Facebook. Ask your students, teammates, and partners to let the world know what GEAR UP means to them on social media. We’ll be sharing why we love GEAR UP every day and want to hear from you too! Be sure to use the hashtags #iheartGEARUP and #GEARUPworks and follow us at @CAGEARUP and @edpartnerships and on Facebook.

 Updated 9:16pm


Richfield Elementary School coordinated the celebration of its 100th anniversary with students, staff, and community for National GEAR UP week.  In the spirit of academic excellence, Mrs. Spannaus was awarded her plaque for 2013/2014 teacher of the year.  Later that evening, students were challenged to GEAR UP for the school’s 100th annual spelling bee.

Screen Shot 2014-09-22 at 9.25.27 PMElk Grove Unified School District Resolution Supporting National GEAR UP Week in California and in Elk Grove. Elk Grove Unified and California GEAR UP has one of the longest and most successful partnerships in the history of GEAR UP going back nearly 15 years.

Updated September 23, 2014


Tincher Preparatory in Long Beach celebrated NGUW with a college door decorating contest, spirit day, and  college vocabulary and college goal setting activities.

March Madness Hudson

Hudson Middle School enjoyed some ‘March Madness’ fun for NGUW as well as door decorating contests and DREAM Wall activities.


The Accelerated School had a blast preparing a DREAM Wall banner.

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Jones Junior High in Baldwin, Park has activities scheduled for EVERY DAY OF THE WEEK!

Updated 9/24/14


In collaboration with local leadership from the Walmart Mi Futuro program, Vista Preparatory Academy is celebrating National GEAR UP Week with a guest presentation from Officer Macintosh of the California Highway Patrol.  Officer Macintosh covered a range of topics including the postsecondary education and training required to serve in local, state, and federal law enforcement.  Vista students left with a better understanding of criminal justice administration and Peace Officers Standards and Training (POST), and the local colleges and universities that offer such career pathways.

Updated 9/24/14 3:53pm

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We received a letter of recognition from Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today!

Updated 9/25/14 11:24pm

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The 8th grade class at Shasta Lake School spent National GEAR UP Week at Shasta College exploring technical career pathways.  Students received college and career presentations from law enforcement, truckers, technology support, state, and local government officials.

Updated Updated 9/26/14

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Valley High School GEAR UP staff honored NGUW 2014 and the 10th Grade GEAR UP cohort by playing the girls basketball team….and won!

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Hudson Middle School in Long Beach hosted an A-G relay race and “I Love GEAR UP” photo contest!

Official National GEAR UP Week Selfie Material

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Not sure what to do for your National GEAR UP Week event Sept 22-26. 2014? Print this image and have a ‘I HEART GU’ selfie contest on social media!

Tweet us! @CAGEARUP

Facebook us! https://www.facebook.com/CaliforniaGEARUP


Video: The Power of Relationships for Student Success

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Over the course of three years and with the leadership of a group of committed teachers, administrators, teachers, students, GEAR UP, and community partnerships, Vista Middle School transformed from a failing middle school into a thriving Preparatory Academy. The focus of the transformation: creating a school culture centered around student success as the highest priority. Their story is in progress but the results are already telling. Let the video tell the story. 

Shot over three days on location in Red Bluff, CA by Emmy nominated videographer Andy Schlactenhaufen for California GEAR UP.

Special thanks to the Vista Preparatory Academy teachers and community, GEAR UP College Options, Red Bluff Union Elementary School District,

Let us know what you think of the video!


State Board Commends Higher Ed Common Core Approach

In an unprecedented action, the four systems of higher education announced their endorsement of Common Core standards and have engaged in a comprehensive, coordinated approach for implementation that links the K-12 system with higher education on standards, assessments and teacher training.

The leaders of the University of California, California State University, California Community Colleges, and Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities outlined their endorsement of Common Core standards in a letter to the State Board of Education. The announcement is part of the California State Board of Education’s National Governors Association grant for K-12/higher education collaboration.

“This endorsement reinforces other significant actions by higher education to align standards and assessments with Common Core including major revisions to the PSAT and SAT, updates to the a-g requirements for the University of California and California State University, improvements to teacher preparation, and collaboration on the Early Assessment Program and Smarter Balanced assessments for 11th grade,” explained California State Board of Education president Mike Kirst.

“The implementation of the Common Core standards and aligned assessments has the potential to dramatically improve college readiness and help close the preparation gap that exists for California students,” wrote Janet Napolitano, Timothy White, Brice Harris and Kristen Soares. The system leaders note the “transforming promise of these new standards” as more students master them and more teachers, students and parents are given clear and consistent messages about college and career readiness.

The letter states that “Common Core standards provide teachers and districts a roadmap to developing courses that cultivate the deep understandings required for college preparation.  In concert with this transition, the a-g requirements for CSU and UC admission, specifically areas ‘b’ (English) and ‘c’ (Mathematics), have been updated to align with the Common Core standards and the message is being transmitted to schools, parents and students.”

The system leaders also highlight the Early Assessment Program and higher education’s participation in teams working on the performance standards for the Smarter Balanced 11th grade assessments. The “partnership California has built over the last 10 years to implement the Early Assessment Program has helped to define the national effort to measure college and career readiness in the 11th grade, and it places California in an optimal position to successfully transition to the new system of standards and assessments.”

“Collaborative efforts will help ensure that the tests measure standards that our K-12 and higher education systems all agree address appropriate expectations for the preparation of high school graduates who are ready to succeed…. These assessments align with our commitment to new learning outcomes to ensure our graduates are ready to succeed in an increasingly complex global environment,” the letter notes.

The link between K-12 and higher education starts with teacher preparation, according to Napolitano, White, Harris and Soares.  Accordingly, “higher education systems are aligning teacher preparation programs and content with the Common Core standards.”

More information about California’s implementation of Common Core standards can be found athttp://www.cde.ca.gov/re/cc/index.asp.


A Dream Realized: Stories From the National Conference

NCCEP 2014

This year marked the 15th anniversary of GEAR UP and the annual conference was held in Washington DC July 20-23, 2014.  The purpose of this conference is to highlight the importance of education/community partnerships and the accomplishments of the Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP). This conference also serves to facilitate the forging of new alliances among faculty, to help attendees learn about other federal and foundation-sponsored college awareness efforts, to learn about other academic and student support programs, and to find new ways to engage local communities, businesses and professional associations in the work of GEAR UP partnerships. The conference is especially relevant to education practitioners, business leaders and policymakers who wish to learn more about creating and sustaining education collaboratives that can help improve public education and promote student academic achievement.

It was a great opportunity to network and connect with GEAR UP programs/projects around the county. I really appreciated the big picture scope of the work and mission of NCCEP. -Bernadette Ramirez, California GEAR UP

Attendees addended breakout session based on their areas of work and interest. California GEAR UP presented at four different sessions and was excited to share the success across California.

The daily speakers were amazing and reminded us of our purpose and the necessity of all of our contributions.  I left centered and reminded that there people all across the nation working with students to create pathways that provide equal access to higher education. -Crystal Robinson, California GEAR UP.


The GEAR UP Alumni Leadership Academy (GUALA) is a new initiative launched by the National Council for Community and Education Partnerships with support from the national GEAR UP community and funding from The Kresge Foundation.  The GUALA is a 12-month program designed to train and engage GEAR UP alumni in advocacy and leadership, and work toward creating positive change in education policy for their younger peers. The GUALA will select 30 GEAR UP Alumni Leaders annually from across the country and grow the program to one per state over time. Stephani Ruiz, GUALA class 2014 shared her conference experience with us:

“The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet” -Aristotle. That is exactly what I saw at the national Gear Up conference. I saw many speakers, students, and presenters who all said the same thing. Education is hard, but if you keep at it, you can achieve! I tell my students that quote every time they feel discouraged and I tell myself that every single time I feel like quitting. I am a first generation student and for me my education journey was very challenging, but so worth it! I am near the end of my undergraduate journey and there have been times that I have wanted to quit, but my mentors have encouraged me to keep fighting. I am so thankful that GUALA has given me the same opportunity to encourage and help future leaders that are struggling to that they are worth it. I love what Gear Up has done to my community. Gear Up has been a huge part of my life and I am just so thankful that the roots may be bitter, but the fruit, is just so much more sweeter!

Fattah Google

U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah (D., Pa.) touted the progress of a college preparation program he helped bring into being 15 years ago, and announced that the annual GEAR UP convention would come to Philadelphia next year. And he did it while recording his own remarks through Google Glass. (If you want to see what it’s like to deliver a speech to a conference, see the video ). Fattah, of Philadelphia, sponsored the creation of GEAR UP during the Clinton administration, helping found a program that prepares low-income students for college. In his speech at the program’s annual convention last week, Fattah said it had now aided 13 million young people. Quoting former President Clinton’s comments at the 1998 bill signing, Fattah said, “we want our young people to have every opportunity to live and achieve their dreams.”

One aspect of the conference many attendees were excited about was visiting with their local members of congress as part of ‘Hill Visits’. GEAR UP practitioners spent weeks leading up to their capitol trip scheduling appointments with not only members of congress but also their education staff to share the accomplishments of GEAR UP in their districts. California GEAR UP staff met with Congressman Adam Schiff (D., CA) and invited him to visit our local GEAR UP schools in his district.
Did you attend this year? What what your experience?


New Online Toolkit to Help Educators Explain Common Core



SACRAMENTO—Educators and school districts now have a new free toolkit to help them spread the word about how the Common Core State Standards are remodeling California’s education system to better prepare students for college and careers, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced today.

“As students and teachers head back to school they will be experiencing exciting changes in California education, including a new way of teaching and learning through the Common Core,” Torlakson said. “Now educators have additional help in dispelling the mystery and concerns of families about this transition with a new communications toolkit created with the help of several major education groups in the state.”

Explaining Common Core to Californians: A Communications Toolkit” is an online resource created with the help of the California Department of Education, State Board of Education, Californians Dedicated to Education, California County Superintendents Educational Services Association, California State PTA®, California School Boards Association, California Teachers Association, California Federation of Teaches AFT/AFL-CIO, Association of California School Administrators, the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, and the nonprofit FrameWorks.

The resource is a collection of research, recommendations, and sample communications designed to help educators increase their own and the public’s understanding of the kinds of instruction, testing, and support needed to fulfill the potential of the Common Core. For example, educators can download printable message cards that provide metaphors to help them explain Common Core, talking points to help them describe what Common Core does, frequently asked questions on challenging topics, tips on how to use social media, sample letters to parents, and a Common Core video.

Californians Dedicated to Education also will hold a series of Webinars to provide an overview of the Communications Toolkit and practical tips on how to use it with a special focus on back-to-school messaging. Click on the links below to register for the free Webinars. Advanced registration is required. For more information, contact Caitlin Lawrence-Toombs at caitlin@glenpricegroup.com or 510-528-1558:

The State Board of Education adopted the Common Core State Standards for English language arts and mathematics in 2010. Standards define the knowledge, concepts, and skills students should acquire at each grade level. The new standards provide a practical way to prepare students for the challenges of a constantly changing world by helping them learn step-by-step the real world skills they need for college and careers. The Common Core provides all students, no matter where they live or where they were born, a world-class education that’s consistent from school to school so they will graduate ready to contribute to the state and nation. It also replaces the state’s outdated ways of learning with a clear focus on the key knowledge and skills students need while providing teachers the time to teach the standards well.

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The California Department of Education is a state agency led by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson. For more information, please visit the California Department of Education Web site or by mobile device. You may also follow Superintendent Torlakson on TwitterFacebook, and YouTube.


Start the New School Year Off With a Plan to Save for College


kids scholarshare

New classes, new teachers and reunions with old friends make the beginning of the school year an exciting time for students and parents. But also a time to remember that for many families, college is just around the corner and saving money now will pay off later. Saving early helps ease the burden of rising tuition and living expenses and makes it more likely your child will attend. A great way to save is by opening or contributing to a ScholarShare account. ScholarShare, California’s 529 College Savings Plan, can provide parents and relatives – anyone saving for a child’s college education – with valuable tax advantages.

ScholarShare is proud to be partners with GEAR-UP, so we can work together to increase the number of students who are prepared to enter and succeed in college.

According to a 2012 survey by Hart Research Associates, 84 percent of parents considered it “very important” that their children attend college, but not many had started saving.  ScholarShare, which was named one of the nine best 529 plans in the nation by Morningstar, a prominent ratings agency, is administered by the state of California and managed by TIAA-CREF Tuition Financing, Inc.  Named for the section of the internal revenue code under which they were created, 529 plans offer families a tax-advantaged way to save for college.

scholarshare logo


Some of the benefits of the ScholarShare plan include:

  • Accounts can be opened with as little as $25;
  • A wide variety of low-cost investment options are offered;
  • There are no annual account maintenance fees;
  • Potential earnings are tax-free if used for qualified higher education expenses such as tuition and fees, books and supplies, and certain room and board costs;
  • Funds may be used at eligible educational institutions nationwide, and some abroad;
  • Anyone can contribute to the account, making it a great gift idea for family and friends for special occasions.

To learn more or to open an account, visit www.scholarshare.com or call 1-800-544-5248. Like ScholarShare on Facebook at www.facebook.com/scholarshare529 and follow us on Twitter at @ScholarShare529.

Preparing for college academically and financially can help keep students on the path toward success.


Consider the investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses before investing in the ScholarShare 529 College Savings Plan. Please visit www.scholarshare.com for a Program Disclosure Booklet containing this and other information. Read it carefully.

Before investing in a 529 plan, you should consider whether the state you or your Beneficiary reside in or have taxable income in has a 529 plan that offers favorable state income tax or other benefits that are only available if you invest in that state’s 529 plan.

The tax information contained herein is not intended to be used, and cannot be used, by any taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding tax penalties. Taxpayers should seek advice based on their own particular circumstances from an independent tax advisor. Non-qualified withdrawals may be subject to federal and state taxes and the additional federal 10% tax. Non-qualified withdrawals may also be subject to an additional 2.5% California tax on earnings. Investments in the Program are neither insured nor guaranteed and there is the risk of investment loss. The ScholarShare 529 College Savings Plan Twitter and Facebook pages are managed by the state of California. TIAA-CREF Tuition Financing, Inc., Plan Manager

2014 NCCEP/GEAR UP Annual Conference in Washington, DC

Register Now!

2014 NCCEP/GEAR UP Annual Conference July 20–23, 2014 Washington Hilton, Washington, DC On behalf of the U.S. Department of Education and NCCEP, we are pleased to invite you to attend the 2014 NCCEP/GEAR UP Annual Conference, celebrating GEAR UP’s 15th Anniversary!  The theme of this year’s conference is “A Dream Realized.”  To access the online registration, click the Register Now button below.


You may want to spend some time reflecting on your professional goals before attending a conference. Conferences can be highly effective at helping you advance a wide range of professional objectives. For example, they can help you build and extend professional contacts, find a mentor or collaborator, gain experience presenting original work, advance your subject matter expertise, extend your knowledge of resources, introduce you to new theory, methods or tools, gain ideas for new programs and workshops, develop new skills or simply refresh your interest in and enthusiasm for managing programs and working directly with students. Whatever the goal, be intentional in the way you seek to advance your professional identity, contacts and knowledge.  Don’t passively attend the conference use it to advance your career objectives!


There are normally a variety of session formats to select from including pre-conference workshops, panel discussions, team delivered presentations and of course single presenter presentations. Each offers a special experience and learning opportunity. Branch out a bit and see if you can sample a range of presentation approaches and styles.


It is easy to be overwhelmed by the range of activities happening during a conference. Spend some time before you go reading through the program to get a sense of what seems most interesting and relevant. Large conferences may also offer a common reading for thought and reflection and if these are accessed in advance they may add much to your overall conference experience. Taking the time to prepare in advance will help you feel more relaxed and organized once the conference begins. Conferences offer so much – it can be helpful to review, reflect and strategize in advance.


Conferences can be packed with interesting sessions and it can be hard to choose between interesting concurrent sessions. Although it may be tempting to attend individual sessions with trusted coworkers, consider asking your friends and workmates to spread out over the conference and attend different concurrent sessions. This strategy will ensure maximum exposure to what the conference has to offer.  Set some time aside to debrief and share materials and handouts with these workmates during breaks. This will help you gain access to much more of the conference than you could as a single attendee.


Raise your hand, offer a comment, tell a story, frame a challenge, suggest a solution, give an example, reflect, engage and engage others! Be an active rather than passive participate. Much of the learning that takes place at a conference happens through peer-to-peer sharing and interaction. You may also wish to consider volunteering at a conference. This can be a great way to gain professional experience and engage more fully in the conference as it is happening.


Choose to attend at least one conference presentation in an area that you are not familiar with. This might help you discover a new passion, resource or opportunity. Focus not only on extending existing knowledge and expertise, focus on growth.


Conferences are great ways to engage with your familiar and trusted workmates but make it a point to expand your professional contacts by introducing yourself to at least three new people. If you feel awkward approaching others, network with an extroverted friend who can help with introductions. You are likely to meet some amazing people.


Write down a few key takeaways from each session you attend. Consider how you might use what you learned in your professional practice. Be determined to take away at least one idea, tool, concept or bit of information that can be applied to your daily practice. Hang on to your handouts for future reference.


Attend the scheduled social events! These are actually a lot of fun and really help to extend the excitement, enthusiasm and energy of a conference. If you are shy, take a friend with you. Don’t be afraid to relax and mingle.


If you are one of only a few people in your immediate working group who is able to attend a conference you may want to focus on what you can take back to others who are not able to attend. Consider yourself an emissary for your entire working group and be committed to sharing what you learned with others. Bring conference highlights home by presenting to your department, host a brown bag debrief and share key takeaways with colleagues.


Use the business cards you collect at a conference in the future. Reach out to others and look for ways to share and collaborate on new projects. This is a great way to form and strengthen professional networks over time. The call for proposals closed on April 1, 2014.

Click here to access the 2014 NCCEP/GEAR UP Annual Conference schedule-at-a-glance.
Click here to access the 2014 NCCEP/GEAR UP Annual Conference program book.
Click here to access the Sponsor, Exhibitor, and Advertiser Prospectus.