Homeless and Hungry in College

Homeless and hungry in college: Not just a ‘ramen-noodle’ problem

LooLoo Amante, 21, a 2016 SJSU graduate, is currently homeless and living out of her car in San Jose, Calif., on Friday, July 8, 2016. Amante experienced homelessness while attending San Jose State and she is again homeless while she waits to attend graduate school at USC in late August. (Jim Gensheimer/Bay Area News Group)
LooLoo Amante, 21, a 2016 SJSU graduate, is currently homeless and living out of her car in San Jose, Calif., on Friday, July 8, 2016. Amante experienced homelessness while attending San Jose State and she is again homeless while she waits to attend graduate school at USC in late August. (Jim Gensheimer/Bay Area News Group)

From Mercury News

LooLoo Amante had nowhere to live after her freshman year of college, so she bought a Scion with tinted windows and, at just 19 years old, slept in the driver’s seat.

She had little money for food, let alone a costly meal plan, so she sometimes asked friends to grab her a banana or apple from the dining hall.

Even some of her closest friends had no idea that homelessness was part of the college experience for Amante, an advertising major who ran on the cross-country team and served as San Jose State’s student-body president before graduating in May.

“I didn’t want to tell people that I was living out of my car or that I was couch-hopping,” she said.

LooLoo Amante, 21, a 2016 SJSU graduate, is currently homeless and living out of her car in Los Angeles, Calif. Amante experienced homelessness while

Stories like Amante’s and new research on campus hunger and homelessness have awakened college leaders and policy makers to an uncomfortable reality: Many students are struggling just to survive. The very institutions that study poverty and hunger in urban centers and developing countries are confronting mounting evidence that their own students scrounge for a place to sleep and skip meals to pay their bills.

Researchers can’t easily document whether the problem is growing, because it hasn’t been thoroughly studied. Still, they say, rising tuition and California’s crushing rental prices — nearly $2,300 per month for an average one-bedroom apartment in Oakland and San Jose — have made it harder than ever for students to get by, and colleges are enrolling more students without a financial safety net.

A new UC survey found that 1 in 5 of students had gone hungry in the past year because they didn’t have money for food. CSU this year released the sobering estimate that 8-12 percent of students were homeless or lacked permanent housing. And a survey from San Jose State found that 20 percent of students had gone a whole day without a meal because money was so tight.

Those staggering numbers and others have spurred state legislation and moved campuses across California to set up food pantries, coordinate emergency relief and social services, and set new policies, such as allowing homeless students to stay in campus residence halls during breaks.

Some students sleep in ditches, sheds and highway underpasses, says Cyekeia Lee, an advocate who said she has known college athletes to bed down under bleachers. It’s a situation that many students are ashamed to share, and that colleges have been reluctant to accept, said Lee, of the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth.

“For whatever reason, in our culture it’s hard to conceptualize in America this is where college students have to sleep,” Lee said.

A new UC survey found that 1 in 5 of students had gone hungry in the past year because they didn’t have money for food. CSU this year released the sobering estimate that 8-12 percent of students were homeless or lacked permanent housing. And a survey from San Jose State found that 20 percent of students had gone a whole day without a meal because money was so tight.

Those staggering numbers and others have spurred state legislation and moved campuses across California to set up food pantries, coordinate emergency relief and social services, and set new policies, such as allowing homeless students to stay in campus residence halls during breaks.

Some students sleep in ditches, sheds and highway underpasses, says Cyekeia Lee, an advocate who said she has known college athletes to bed down under bleachers. It’s a situation that many students are ashamed to share, and that colleges have been reluctant to accept, said Lee, of the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth.

“For whatever reason, in our culture it’s hard to conceptualize in America this is where college students have to sleep,” Lee said.

A half-hour south, while working two on-campus jobs, Amante found what she calls a “permanent couch situation” for her last two-plus years at SJSU. Soon after graduation, estranged from her mother, she found herself living back in her car. She is bound for graduate school at the University of Southern California, but still doesn’t know where she will live. She is reluctant to take out student loans and — as she did at San Jose State — is trying to cover her expenses with scholarships, grants and jobs.

“I just graduated,” she said, wiping away tears. “I don’t want to feel like I’m struggling.”

In her car, she keeps a collection of sunglasses, books, blankets, clothing and mail. She receives food assistance, thanks to help from a counselor at San Jose State, but has nowhere to store or prepare meals.

She pulled a pack of chewy, fruit-flavored candy from her glove compartment; her last meal was the night before, she said. It was 2:30 p.m.

A GROWING PROBLEM

Experts are still researching the effects of hunger or homelessness on college students. They suspect the strain causes many, if not most, to drop out.

Those odds make Amante’s accomplishments remarkable. “I expect great things from her,” said her former professor, Dona Nichols.

Most colleges don’t ask students if they have a permanent place to live. The federal government doesn’t ask, either, in its regular surveys of colleges. Sometimes, students without stable housing hide their situations, or don’t consider themselves homeless, even if they are living in a car.

“There is some real and some feared stigma,” said Rashida Crutchfield, a CSU Long Beach professor who is leading the system’s ongoing research of food insecurity and homelessness. “As adults, I think people want to attempt to solve their own problems as best as they can.”

A shared dorm room and meal plan at major Bay Area colleges costs between $14,000 and $18,000 a year, higher than the price of in-state tuition.

Typically when people talk about college affordability, “most of the conversation is around tuition and fees, and hardly ever do we talk about cost of living,” said Ruben Canedo, a UC Berkeley staffer whom UC President Janet Napolitano tapped to lead a systemwide committee on food security.

Demographic shifts on college campuses are also thought to be a factor. “If you go back 30 to 40 years, if you didn’t have money, you didn’t go to college,” said Sara Goldrick-Rab, a professor of higher education and sociology at Temple University, who co-authored a study last December, “Hungry to Learn.”

Now, Goldrick-Rab said, “even if you grew up solidly middle class, it’s still entirely possible you will fall short.”

Campus hunger has a “ramen-noodle” problem, experts say — a tendency to dismiss students’ struggles as a rite of passage. But as awareness of their hardship grows, California colleges and politicians are responding. Some universities are helping students apply for public food assistance and establishing programs to let students donate meal points to students in need. Many schools, such as CSU East Bay, San Jose State and UC Berkeley, have formed teams to help those in crisis and devise longer-term plans to meet students’ basic needs.

The Legislature is considering three bills to help homeless and food-insecure college students, from emergency grants to access to campus showers.

Humboldt State now accepts food stamps on campus. San Jose State is considering partnerships with local shelters.

Nichols, a journalism and communications lecturer at San Jose State, keeps protein-filled snacks in her office and has lost count of the number of students who have stayed in her home — including Amante — for days, weeks or even months.

“Isn’t there something that we can do to offer them emergency housing?” she asked.

Hearing that Amante was again living in her car, Nichols was saddened. “We’ve got to do something more. It’s absolutely heartbreaking.”

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Earlier Date for Filing Fafsa Form for College Aid

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From NYTimes.

As college-bound students prepare for a new school year, they should be aware of a new date that’s important for future financial aid: Oct. 1.

That’s the new, earlier date after which students can file the Fafsa, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The infamous form is used to calculate how much students and their families must contribute to the cost of college, and how much help they will get in the form of grants, scholarships and loans. Students seeking financial aid must file the form, used by most states and colleges as the gateway to financial aid, each year.

In the past, students had to wait until Jan. 1 to file the form. But in an effort to align the financial aid process with the typical college admissions cycle, the federal Education Department moved the initial filing date three months earlier.

The department also changed the rules to allow students to complete the form using older financial information. Previously, the form that was available on Jan. 1 used income from the tax year that had just ended. Students filing the form early this year, for instance, had to use 2015 income tax data. Financial advisers often urged students and families to file as soon as possible after Jan. 1, to maximize their chances of getting state grants, because some states have early financial aid deadlines.

That presented a problem, however, because most people do not have the necessary information, like wage statements, to file their tax returns in early January. Instead, they had to file Fafsa forms using estimated income data, and remember to revise the form later, after they filed their tax return. That often meant the form was selected for “verification,” which requires submitting extra documents, said Mark Kantrowitz, a financial-aid expert.

The alternative was simply to file much later, he said, and risk missing out on aid.

The new rules have Fafsa filers use tax information from a year earlier — known, awkwardly, as “prior prior” year returns. (Students filing for the 2017-18 academic year, then, will use 2015 tax data.)

The main benefit of that change is that many more students can use the Internal Revenue Service’s Data Retrieval Tool, which automatically fills in the online Fafsa form with the necessary tax information, said Lauren Asher, president of the Institute for College Access and Success. “This really does simplify the aid process,” she said.

Colleges are taking steps to notify students of the new date. Thomas M. Ratliff, associate vice president at Indiana Wesleyan University in Marion, Ind., said the university was sending emails to students who had indicated interest in attending, making them aware of the Oct. 1 date. And the state’s association of financial aid professionals will hold a workshop in September for high school counselors, he said, to make them aware of the change.

One question is whether colleges will change their own financial aid application deadlines. Some — particularly institutions with rolling admissions — are reportedly moving up their “priority” financial aid application deadlines to November or December. That could put students in a time crunch in the fall, said Carrie Warick, director of partnerships and policy at the National College Access Network, which promotes college education for low-income students.

“At some institutions, if you miss a the priority deadline, there may be little to no aid after,” Ms. Warick said.

The network, she said, is urging colleges to set their aid application deadlines no earlier than Feb. 1.

Still, the Education Department is advising financial aid counselors to tell families to double-check their state and school financial aid deadlines. Parents, the department notes on its website, should “make sure that your child’s school and state deadlines have not changed, and plan accordingly.”

Here are questions and answers about the new Fafsa date:

Does the change mean I must file the Fafsa form by Oct. 1?

No. The form becomes available on Oct. 1, and you can file when you’re ready — although it’s still wise to file as soon as you can, Mr. Kantrowitz said.

I already filed a Fafsa form this spring. Should I file it again after Oct. 1?

Yes, if you’re seeking aid for the 2017-18 academic year. Because of the filing date change, students may actually file two separate Fafsa forms this calendar year — one that they already completed, for 2016-17, and a second one, which can be filed starting in October, for the following academic year.

How do I use the I.R.S. Data Retrieval Tool?

The online Fafsa form has a link that will allow you to use the tool.

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2016 National GEAR UP Week – September 19-23!

National_GEAR_UP_Week_logo

Join thousands of students, parents, teachers, partners and college access professionals from across the nation to celebrate GEAR UP and the successes of your hard work and dedication!

National GEAR UP Week is an opportunity for you to raise awareness in your community about the positive impact GEAR UP is having locally.  It’s a time to engage all your stakeholders – local, state and federal elected officials, funders, partners, as well as local, state and regional media – to share your program’s accomplishments and to get them more involved with your services to students and families. Let’s  commemorate your hard work and the progress our students are making towards achieving their life-long dream of going to college!


2016 National GEAR UP Week – September 19-23!

We encourage you to use the resources below to plan and prepare for 2016 National GEAR UP Week.

Inspiration & Planning:

Resources:

  • Download the National GEAR UP Week logo
  • Download the #I<3GEARUP / #IheartGEARUP sign
  • Download the 2014 GEAR UP by the Numbers infographic
  • Proclamation request template – Use this letter template to request a proclamation for National GEAR UP Week from your Senators, Representatives, Governor, Mayor, Councilmembers, etc.
  • Proclamation template – Attach this proclamation template to your proclamation request to save you time!
  • Student letter to Member of Congress – Use this letter template as a guide to encourage your students to share their GEAR UP successes with their Members of Congress!

Press & Media:

  • Media Advisory – This template is to notify media outlets in your area to cover the event you are hosting.  Media advisories are distributed ahead of the event so that outlets can schedule and plan to cover your event.
  • Press Release – This template will help you create some “buzz” about your event.  You can send it out before or after the event takes place, just make sure you edit it accordingly!
  • Op-Ed: Guidelines & Talking Points – Op-eds are a great way to raise awareness about GEAR UP at the local and regional level.  Follow the tips and use the template in this resource to submit your op-ed to your news outlet.

Where California universities fail black male athletes

From the San Francisco Chronicle.

2016_07_06_ETW

There is a losing culture in big-time college sports that has nothing to do with wins and losses in basketball or football, or the millions of dollars being made. Using those standards, many universities are doing fine, with some profiting greatly from the success of their football and men’s basketball teams.

The losses we refer to are the ones that really matter: student-athletes who don’t go pro and never graduate. Too many universities are losing on this measure and failing their student-athletes — particularly black male athletes. California campuses are no exception.

UC Berkeley ranks at the bottom of black athlete graduation rates for all California universities studied. While 91 percent of all students and 64 percent of black male students graduate from Cal, just 34 percent of black male athletes graduate.

The fair treatment of college athletes is a national issue in which the focus has been on paying student-athletes and reining in excessive coaching salaries. We even see an emerging discussion on gaps in student-athlete graduation rates. However, we haven’t taken our best shot at fixing these inequities.

Since 2012, the Center for the Study of Race and Equity in Education has used National Collegiate Athletic Association data to expose troubling disparities in representation and graduation rates for black student athletes. This year’s report highlights that despite black male students’ overrepresentation on college sports teams compared with the general student body, less than half of black male student-athletes graduate in six years.

The University of Southern California, for example, graduates 91 percent of all students but only 41 percent of black male athletes. UCLA is making some progress toward closing the graduation gap, with 61 percent of its black male athletes graduating, compared with 91 percent of all students. However, the overall findings rightly create outrage and demand change.

If anyone ever says there’s not enough money to provide student-athletes the support needed to graduate, that’s wrong. The NCAA will make an estimated $1 billion a year from selling the TV rights to the March Madness basketball tournament. Division I football generates more than $3.7 billion annually. UCLA recently announced a record $280 million sponsorship deal with Under Armour sports apparel.

The real losers here are black male student-athletes — we exploit their bodies while neglecting their minds. While some may think scholarships set them up for million-dollar contracts, the vast majority of these student-athletes will never go pro, leaving most of them on the sidelines holding the ball but not a diploma. These students sacrifice countless hours and risk injury to play a sport while pursuing a degree — perhaps it’s us and not them who have lost sight of the goal.

A recent effort by the University of California regents adopts new policies to increase accountability and improve student-athlete success, and should be applauded. The next step is to go further, as the adopted package of policies and guiding principles had one glaring problem — racial inequities were never mentioned.

We should guarantee the support necessary for all student-athletes to finish their degrees. Some campuses are already engaging faculty mentors and providing extra support and instruction while student-athletes are on the road. If the expectation of student-athletes on the field or court is nothing short of excellence, then our colleges should be held to that same excellence standard by achieving parity in graduation rates.

At a recent UC Board of Regents meeting, Regent Eloy Ortiz Oakley said, “The most valuable asset we have is not athletic achievement, it is a degree from the University of California, and that should always be the priority.” We agree.

Michele Siqueiros is president of the Campaign for College Opportunity, and Ryan Smith is executive director of The Education Trust-West, based in Oakland.

 

 

July 5, 2016 Updated: July 5, 2016 9:40pm

UC Berkeley ranks at the bottom of black athlete graduation rates for all California universities studied. Photo: Carlos Avila Gonzalez / The Chronicle / ONLINE_YES

Photo: Carlos Avila Gonzalez / The Chronicle

UC Berkeley ranks at the bottom of black athlete graduation rates for all California universities studied.

There is a losing culture in big-time college sports that has nothing to do with wins and losses in basketball or football, or the millions of dollars being made. Using those standards, many universities are doing fine, with some profiting greatly from the success of their football and men’s basketball teams.

The losses we refer to are the ones that really matter: student-athletes who don’t go pro and never graduate. Too many universities are losing on this measure and failing their student-athletes — particularly black male athletes. California campuses are no exception.

UC Berkeley ranks at the bottom of black athlete graduation rates for all California universities studied. While 91 percent of all students and 64 percent of black male students graduate from Cal, just 34 percent of black male athletes graduate.

The fair treatment of college athletes is a national issue in which the focus has been on paying student-athletes and reining in excessive coaching salaries. We even see an emerging discussion on gaps in student-athlete graduation rates. However, we haven’t taken our best shot at fixing these inequities.

Since 2012, the Center for the Study of Race and Equity in Education has used National Collegiate Athletic Association data to expose troubling disparities in representation and graduation rates for black student athletes. This year’s report highlights that despite black male students’ overrepresentation on college sports teams compared with the general student body, less than half of black male student-athletes graduate in six years.

The University of Southern California, for example, graduates 91 percent of all students but only 41 percent of black male athletes. UCLA is making some progress toward closing the graduation gap, with 61 percent of its black male athletes graduating, compared with 91 percent of all students. However, the overall findings rightly create outrage and demand change.

If anyone ever says there’s not enough money to provide student-athletes the support needed to graduate, that’s wrong. The NCAA will make an estimated $1 billion a year from selling the TV rights to the March Madness basketball tournament. Division I football generates more than $3.7 billion annually. UCLA recently announced a record $280 million sponsorship deal with Under Armour sports apparel.

The real losers here are black male student-athletes — we exploit their bodies while neglecting their minds. While some may think scholarships set them up for million-dollar contracts, the vast majority of these student-athletes will never go pro, leaving most of them on the sidelines holding the ball but not a diploma. These students sacrifice countless hours and risk injury to play a sport while pursuing a degree — perhaps it’s us and not them who have lost sight of the goal.

A recent effort by the University of California regents adopts new policies to increase accountability and improve student-athlete success, and should be applauded. The next step is to go further, as the adopted package of policies and guiding principles had one glaring problem — racial inequities were never mentioned.

We should guarantee the support necessary for all student-athletes to finish their degrees. Some campuses are already engaging faculty mentors and providing extra support and instruction while student-athletes are on the road. If the expectation of student-athletes on the field or court is nothing short of excellence, then our colleges should be held to that same excellence standard by achieving parity in graduation rates.

At a recent UC Board of Regents meeting, Regent Eloy Ortiz Oakley said, “The most valuable asset we have is not athletic achievement, it is a degree from the University of California, and that should always be the priority.” We agree.

Michele Siqueiros is president of the Campaign for College Opportunity, and Ryan Smith is executive director of the Education Trust-West, based in Oakland.

ACT Report: The Condition of Future Educators 2015

ACT

The Condition of Future Educators 2015
Interest in education careers continues to decline at an alarming rate among US high school graduates, according to a new report from ACT.
The Condition of Future Educators 2015 reveals that only 4% of the more than 1.9 million 2015 ACT®-tested US high school graduates said they intended to pursue a career in education—as either a teacher, counselor, or administrator. This is down from 5% in 2014 and down from 7% in 2010.
Among the findings: 

  • Lack of Diversity: Findings point to a lack of diversity among students interested in education. Just 23% of aspiring educators are African American or Hispanic, while students in those two groups comprise 31% of all ACT-tested graduates
  • Males Show Less Interest: The report suggests males are much less likely than females to be interested in becoming teachers. Less than one-fourth of graduates who aspire to a career in education are male. In addition, fewer than 10% of male aspiring educators are interested in early childhood and elementary education.
  • STEM Interest: Not only are fewer students interested in becoming educators, but those who are interested have lower-than-average achievement levels, particularly in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) areas. The percentages of aspiring educators who meet the ACT College Readiness Benchmarks are lower than the national average in math, science, and reading.

Read the full report here: The Condition of Future Educators 2015

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GEAR UP Schools Honored at Schools To Watch

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13 high performing schools were honored at the annual Schools to Watch Luncheon in Sacramento, two of which were California GEAR UP Vista Heights Middle School and Sunnymead Middle School.

To earn this designation, schools must complete an extensive application that is reviewed by middle grades experts. In order to retain the designation, each school is re-evaluated every three years. Schools must show they are academically excellent — these schools challenge all students to use their minds well. They are developmentally responsive — these schools are sensitive to the unique developmental challenges of early adolescence. They are socially equitable — these schools are democratic and fair, providing every student with high-quality teachers, resources, and supports.

“It’s significant that more than a third of the new honorees are from Riverside and San Bernardino counties” said Irvin Howard, co-director of Schools to Watch and a longtime educator specializing in the middle grades.

Besides Sunnymead, other Inland winners are Vista Heights Middle School in Moreno Valley (a California GEAR UP School), San Gorgonio Middle School in Beaumont, Curtis Middle School in San Bernardino and Serrano Middle School in Highland.

Having worked with these two schools for five years and seen the staff’s commitment to building a college going culture, I am gratified to see the recognition of  this effort rewarded. -Jon Sides, California GEAR UP Whole School Services Coach.

“What it shows is there are finally some schools in the Inland Empire that are making the cut,” said Howard, a professor emeritus of education at Cal State San Bernardino. “A lot of these schools that have made it have known about the criteria and have been working on it for a few years. We can’t just focus on academics,” he said. “We have to focus on the whole child.”

Since 2001, California GEAR UP has served as a member of the California Middle Grades Alliance (CMGA), a collaborative partnership of 10 organizations in support of high quality middle grades education.  The Schools to Watch program provides the opportunity to recognize and honor the outstanding work of schools and districts throughout California.  These Moreno Valley GEAR UP schools join the class of 2016 Schools to Watch that promote academic excellence and social equity for ALL students.    -Shelley Davis, Director California GEAR UP

The winning schools are meeting the challenge by putting kids on teams in which counselors and teachers help them with classes as well as family and personal issues.

http://clms.net/stw/about.htm

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Sparks Career Day Is College Culture

As part of the California GEAR UP grant, Sparks Middle School proudly hosted its annual Career Day on January 15th, 2016 with 20 different presenters. Some of the presenters were Sparks alumni and included police, chiropractors, NFL players, accountants, engineers, and EMT’s. Serving over 475 students, every 7th and 8th grader heard four different presenters share about their careers and professions. As part of Sparks College Campaign, they want all students to “Own Their Future.” All students are encouraged to “Dress for Success” wearing ties, slacks, dresses, and other nice clothing. A tie station was set up in the morning with ties that have been donated, giving students the option to wear and keep a tie of their choice.

Sparks truly is a special place.  Our staff members share the belief that “success is the only option” for all students.  Our initiatives focus on the student both academically and socially.  Our programs encourage students to grow as individuals as well as to further develop life skills through collaboration.  Since becoming a California GEAR UP middle school, we have transformed dreams into attainable goals, ideas into action, and created hands on experiences for our students and parents to better understand college and career pathways.  We continue to build relationships with our parents as partners encouraging them to be a part of programs including PIQE, Kindle Family Literacy, and our Cooking class.  Within the last 4 years, over 400 parents have graduated from PIQE, twelve $2,000 California GEAR UP Education Trust Awards have been given out, and our LEAD (Life Experiences About Democracy) program earned a Civic Learning Award.  We look forward to what our future holds.

-Collin Miller, Sparks Middle School Principal

During the workshops, students took notes, asked questions, and reflected on their experiences. The presenters came from all different backgrounds and professions with a clear message that with hard work, determination, and motivation, all students can follow their dreams by setting goals and having a positive attitude. Students were encouraged to continue pursuing their interests with the help of all Sparks Spartan staff. Closure to the day included an assembly that highlights “Success Is the Only Option” for all students and that planning for their future starts now. District and city officials were the honored guests at this event and had an opportunity to see the day in action.

With a continued focus of enhancing school culture, Sparks is completing another year with the California GEAR UP grant. As one of the few schools in the state selected for this program, benefits have included a parent program called PIQE (98 parent graduates last year), a full time Whole School Services Coach, professional development opportunities, and additional college resources and programs, and 5 student awards being offered in the amount of $2,000 each last year.

Sparks has made a huge shift in their college going culture in their collaboration with GEAR UP. Sparks staff have organized themselves through their leadership team to continuously conduct a critical analysis of Sparks’ strengths and weaknesses that is open and honest with a look towards equity and providing high quality education for ALL students.  Sparks is also looking towards the future, both at their own growth and the growth of their community.  By visiting other schools and offering their own school site as a model, Sparks seeks not only to learn and implement best practices, but also to share their lessons learned with other struggling communities.  Sparks has created a college-going ecosystem that transcends their school boundaries and I believe they will be able to sustain the gains they have made through GEAR UP into the far future.

–Karla Lagunas-GEAR  UP Whole School Services Coach.

Additional College Campaign highlights include every classroom adopting a college, college spirit days every Thursday, and a college awareness campaign promoted in the cafeteria. For more information please visit our website http://spms.hlpschools.org./

For mor information on California GEAR UP school success stories, visit www.castategearup.org

Career and Technical Education: Does It Improve Student Outcomes?

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Fordham’s latest study, by the University of Connecticut’s Shaun M. Dougherty, uses data from Arkansas to explore whether students benefit from CTE coursework—and, more specifically, from focused sequences of CTE courses aligned to certain industries. The study also describes the current landscape, including which students are taking CTE courses, how many courses they’re taking, and which ones.

Key findings include:

  • Students with greater exposure to CTE are more likely to graduate from high school, enroll in a two-year college, be employed, and earn higher wages.
  • CTE is not a path away from college: Students taking more CTE classes are just as likely to pursue a four-year degree as their peers.
  • Students who focus their CTE coursework are more likely to graduate high school by twenty-one percentage points compared to otherwise similar students (and they see a positive impact on other outcomes as well).
  • CTE provides the greatest boost to the kids who need it most—boys, and students from low-income families.

Due to many decades of neglect and stigma against old-school “vo-tech,” high-quality CTE is not a meaningful part of the high school experience of millions of American students. It’s time to change that.

Download:

(04.05 - Final) CTE Information Graphic (900px)

Data for the People Build Community Power

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This repost is courtesy from Education Week.

(Editor’s note: The announcement that Education Trust-West and a number of civil rights and community organizations were founding a data hub in San Bernardino County, struck me as an important opportunity to increase the capacity for community voice in the California Local Control Funding Formula process.  Here, Ryan Smith, the organization’s executive director, expands on the value of getting actionable information to the people.)

By Ryan Smith

Recently, during a policy briefing in the Central Valley, a community leader asked if she could comment by telling a story.  She spoke of a small cadre of mapmakers from up north that would spend time making maps for communities with no input from the people who lived there.  Townspeople would openly complain: the map didn’t reflect the ground they knew—they had missed rivers, peaks, and other valuable landmarks in the community.  The mapmakers came back and told them “Our maps are right, it’s your ground that’s wrong.”

Point taken. Today, well-intentioned education policies still feel as if they’re being done to and not with communities.  Laws that start off as puddles in Sacramento can come down like waves to school communities, particularly communities of color.

LCFF Provides Unique Opportunity

The time is ripe to invest in bottom-up policymaking.  California’s move to the Local Control Funding Formula and the current redesign of our state accountability system provide a unique opportunity to accelerate meaningful engagement of educators, students, parents and community members.

Thumbnail image for SB Data Hub.jpgFurthermore, the recently-passed Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) requires robust information be publicly available and disaggregated by subgroups.  ESSA also calls for college enrollment data and any other available data deemed helpful to parents to be included on school report cards.  This information can shine a brighter light on student outcomes and empower families in their education decision-making.

However, ESSA is a vehicle for empowerment—but it doesn’t drive itself.  For local control to move past lip service, stakeholders must fully understand complex data, research, budgets, and policy and use this knowledge to make informed decisions.  Without an intentional focus and resources dedicated to data readiness, these efforts to meaningfully engage communities feel more like empty promises.

Bring Data To The People

Building community understanding of data utilization can start to bridge the gap.  When data are effectively understood and used locally, there are long-term benefits for transparency, efficiency, system performance, and student outcomes.  Although we’ve made progress making education data readily available, we’ve never done a decent job of helping education stakeholders actively use data to inform decision-making.  Stakeholders are too often forced to make decisions based on anecdotes, because they do not have access to high-quality, accessible information.

It’s time to finally bring data to the people.

This means the state must develop data systems that are cultivated with consideration for the community members who need this information.  California can’t afford to simply warehouse data in confusing and cumbersome ways.  Even as the use of technology increases, a vast digital divide exists in low-income communities and communities of color.  We have to meet communities where they are through the use of tools designed to develop community members’ awareness of how this information connects to their daily experiences.

The right data matter as well. When it comes to school and district performance, we must resist the urge to artlessly data dump and call it a day.  Transparency is not providing teachers a one hundred page data binder or creating data dashboards that drown parents in fifty indicators of success.  The state has an obligation to provide the right, digestible data including summary measures that don’t mask how students achieve.  Let’s stay away from the dark ages when California’s accountability system painted a pretty picture that covered up distressing disparities in schools and districts failing our most forgotten students.

Invest in Community-Based Expertise

We must also partner with organizations that have a track record of authentically partnering with community members.  Groups like Californians for Justice, P.I.C.O., the Alliance for Boys and Men of Color, and Californians Together work directly with students, parents, and community members to comprehend how to use data to hold schools accountable for success.  We’ve spent $40 million to get County Offices of Education up to speed on supporting LCFF.  Similarly, let’s invest in the groups with this type of community-based expertise rather than recreating the wheel.

We have to equip those on the frontline with more tools. Recently Ed Trust-West partnered with a number of advocacy and education organizations in San Bernardino to open a community-based data and research hub that will serve as a catalyst to build knowledge around budgets, data, and policy at the local level.  Our first step is facilitating data equity walks, a program designed to understand the disparities in the data we see in low-income communities and communities of color.

Let’s work toward democratizing data.  Measuring and understanding success in education is critical to all stakeholders.  Making sense of education information for the average citizen is big data’s last frontier. It’s time for policymakers to embrace the challenge and make sure that a system showing data of the people is also for the people.  The mapmakers who visited the Central Valley weren’t wrong to make maps—they just started and ended with their own view of the world.  Whether data comes in the form of a map or a pie chart, ignoring the local geography gets us nowhere.

 

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