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Join Us for 2015 GEAR UP Capacity Building Conference


The 2015 NCCEP/GEAR UP Capacity-Building Workshop will take place February 8-11, 2015 at the Philadelphia Marriott Downtown in historic and vibrant Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The NCCEP/GEAR UP Capacity-Building Workshop is a distinctly different learning opportunity from the NCCEP/GEAR UP Annual Conference. The CBW is where grantees roll up their sleeves and have extended conversations with their peers about how to advance the cause of college access.

The daily learning tracks are designed to provide information, practical tips, and tools that you and your GEAR UP team can incorporate into your current projects. Networking opportunities allow you to connect with GEAR UP professionals from other projects to share ways to strengthen your GEAR UP programming. Roundtables are offered as another venue to explore ideas with colleagues in a smaller, informal setting.Our colleagues at the U.S. Department of Education will also provide additional training for all current grantees.

  • Interact with and learn from top experts and experienced GEAR UP professionals in hands-on workshop tracks highlighting high-priority issues in the field, innovative programs, leading research, and practical tools and strategies.
  • Engage in invaluable peer-to-peer learning and networking opportunities.

Click here to access the Advance Program, which includes a detailed overview of the 2015 CBW, information about the schedule and content for each workshop, and speaker bios.  (The Advance Program will be updated on an on-going basis. Check back on this site to get the most up-to-date detailed program for the CBW.)

Click here to register today!

The 2015 CBW workshop tracks are as follows: The Directors’ Network, GEAR UP 101, Parent Engagement, Evaluation Showcase, Grant Management, Advancing College Readiness, Strategies for First-Year Post-Secondary Success, The Coordinators’ Catalyst Network, Helping Students Earn College Credit in High School, and Closing Gaps in STEM Learning and Careers.  The CBW will also has five general sessions and several sessions of roundtable discussions.

Staff contacts for the 2015 CBW: Suzan Shimko, Director of Conferences, and John Donaldson, National Director for Training and Technical Assistance.

After reviewing the CBW program and deciding what workshops you plan to attend, you can begin the online registration process. To access the registration form for mail/fax, click here.


Getting to the Core with GEAR UP

college board concord

In the fall of 2013, the California Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) convened school teams from 48 middle schools serving predominantly low-income students in three locations to learn more about academic rigor and the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). With the help of representatives from College Board — a program partner — participants viewed a model English Language Arts (ELA) lesson that is aligned to CCSS and practiced using instructional strategies that engage students across all curriculum areas.

In the spring and fall of 2014, the California GEAR UP Program offered a variety of interactive, participatory workshops in mathematics and English/Language Arts to representatives from all 48 participating GEAR UP middle schools. Sessions were led by expert educators focused on the implementation of the Common Core State Standards from a social justice and educational equity perspective.

Building on these CCSS activities, the California GEAR UP Program is in the second year of a pilot program with selected middle schools that are using the College Board Pre-Advanced Placement (Pre-AP) Programs in mathematics and English/Language Arts. The Program provides staffing and funding for this quality professional development opportunity for teachers with SpringBoard trainers. This pilot is aligned with the program goal of building capacity at the school site and positively influences the ways in which teachers instruct to meet the individualized and differentiated manner in which students learn.


Ann Carnes, Professional Development Manager, California GEAR UP

GEAR UP Schools Participate in SpringBoard Development

SpringBoard Logo Hi-Res

SpringBoard by CollegeBoard and California GEAR UP Partnership

SpringBoard® is the foundational component for the College Board’s College Readiness System, offering a proven Pre-AP program that increases participation and prepares a greater diversity of students for success in AP, college and beyond – without remediation. Based on College Board Standards for College Success and aligned to the Common Core State Standards, SpringBoard offers the only integrated college readiness solution that includes a rigorous curriculum, formative assessments and sustainable professional development.

SpringBoard workshops attended by ELA and Mathematics teachers from our pilot SpringBoard schools (King, Foothill, and Jones) last week as part of their SpringBoard professional development plan.  Both sessions were highly professional and effective in their content and delivery.

2014 ELA Scoring Student Work

 On November 12, 2014, nineteen teachers from Charles D. Jones Junior High School, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School, and Foothill Middle School came together to learn to collaborate productively to examine student work and determine next steps for instruction. They followed a common protocol for examining, scoring, and discussing actual student writing that the teachers brought to the session and were empowered to form conclusions and make plans to differentiate instruction, focus planning, and adjust pacing to propel students forward. Teachers gained an understanding of how to use Scoring Guides to score student work and effective protocols to support ongoing professional collaboration around how to use student data to inform instruction. Susie Lowry, a national SpringBoard Lead Trainer, effectively facilitated this session.

Focus Question: How can common scoring of student work promote student achievement?

This SpringBoard workshop was highly successful, as expressed during conversations throughout the day and the closing reflections. The trainer, who traveled from Florida to be with the group, had a high level of experience and expertise. She was impressed with the teachers’ level of engagement, their content knowledge, and their collaborative spirit.  They all worked together very intently in grade level groups and exchanged contact information with each other from the three different schools represented.

2014 Mathematics Content Seminar

On November 13, 2014, thirteen teachers from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School, and Foothill Middle School came together to learn more about implementing the new SpringBoard Pre-AP mathematics program aligned with the Common Core State Standards. This seminar provided an intensive study of a single course or middle grade level by examining closely the content, skills, pedagogy and assessments of the instructional units within a SpringBoard level. Through interactive modeling, teachers gained a deeper understanding of how to plan and deliver lessons using strategic instructional practices to support student learning that is aligned to the expectations of the Common Core State Standards. Tammy Buckshi, a national SpringBoard Lead Trainer and expert in mathematics instruction, facilitated the successful session.

The workshop was well received by the participants, as expressed during conversations throughout the day and the closing reflections. There was a noticeable positive increase in teacher engagement among some of the first-year implementers who seemed reluctant in the beginning. The trainer, who traveled from North Carolina to be with the group, had the pulse of the group at all times and was adept at adjusting activities and keeping participants’ attention.

The Springboard ELA workshop conducted at King on November 12th gave our teachers an excellent opportunity to receive much needed professional development around effective strategies to score student writing. The session was designed to show teachers how to score student work in grade-level groups, so they can apply the process to examine and score Embedded Assessments in grade-level meetings throughout the school year. 
In this era of teachers’ transitioning to teaching the Common Core State Standards, there is a targeted focus on students attaining the skills necessary to be successful in college and careers so the training was timely and effective. Teachers first received modeling of how they should score student writing, then practical strategies to provide students effective feedback.
By conducting the training in a collaborative setting, teachers were able to support each other’s learning. The trainer was especially skilled at dispelling some of the misconceptions of writing and some of the mistakes we have made in teaching writing like overemphasizing mechanics. 
Teachers walked a way with practical strategies and a system for collaborating over the teaching and learning of writing skills. Our students will greatly benefit from having teachers who have the skill-set to calibrate scores, identify writing models to serve as scoring guides, and provide feedback that will improve students ability to have highly organized, content rich writing experiences.
Shinay Bowman-Instructional Specialist, King Middle School
For more information on California GEAR UP and our partnerships please check out our website. You can learn more about SpringBoard here.

Education Leaders Convene for White House College Initiative


Shelley Davis, Robyn Fisher, and Sharon Twitty attend the convening.

California GEAR UP Sponsors White House Convening at San Diego State University: November 17-18, 2014

In partnership with the White House’s College Opportunity Agenda and the First Lady’s Reach Higher Initiative, California GEARUP and San Diego State University (SDSU) hosted a gathering of committed leaders and commitment makers focused on creating and implementing measurable action plans for improving school counseling preparation, programs, and practices with the goal of increasing college access for all students.  The White House Convening was held on November 17-18, 2014 on the campus of San Diego State University, San Diego, CA.  Teams from 33 States participated in this important event and produced action plans to support the Reach Higher Initiative.  The convening was coordinated under the leadership of Trish Hatch and Laura Owen of the SDSU School Counseling Program.

Members of the California State Team:

  • Penny Edgert, Executive Director, California Education Round Table, Intersegmental Coordinating Committee
  • Shelley Davis, Director, California GEAR UP
  • Robyn Fisher, President/CEO, R. T. Fisher Educational Enterprises, Inc.
  • Jorge Aguilar, Associate Vice Chancellor for Educational and Community Partnerships, UC Merced
  • Erin Dowdy, Associate Professor, Department of Counseling, Clinical, and School Psychology, UC Santa Barbara
  • Harvey Hoyo, Program Lead, School Counseling, National University-Costa Mesa Campus
  • Mia Keeley, Program Analyst, Admissions and Student Success, Office of the Chancellor, California Community Colleges
  • Julie Mendoza, Research and Evaluation Director, Alliance for Regional Collaboration to Heighten Educational Success (ARCHES)
  • Lisa Reimers, Education Program Consultant, College Preparation and Postsecondary Programs Office, California Department of Education
  • Sharon Twitty, Project Director, SLOPE i3 Grant


Several historic milestones have proceeded this west coast event, including:

  • In January 2014, the White House sponsored a Summit during which President Barack Obama called for “an ambitious new agenda aimed at improving college value, removing barriers to innovation and competition, and ensuring that student debt remains affordable.”
  • Following this Summit, First Lady Michelle Obama continued the call for action through the Reach Higher initiative which aims to inspire every student in America to take charge of their future by completing their education past high school, whether at a professional training program, a community college, or a four-year college or university
  • In May 2014, senior White House staff convened a listening and learning session on school counseling with experts from higher education, nonprofit, and professional organizations. This session examined the challenges and opportunities for school counselors to support students’ college aspirations.
  • On July 28, 2014 a special White House convening at Harvard University focused on maximizing school counselors’ impact and influence on college enrollment. Attendees were encouraged to inventory existing partnerships, and create new commitments that require establishing collaborative relationships with local school districts, higher education institutions, college access groups, and non-profit organizations with a specific charge to increase college opportunity for all students.


The purpose, and specific focus, for the SDSU “invitation only” convening of committed leaders and commitment makers is to support those taking steps necessary to create systemic change within the school counseling profession in several specific areas:

  • Designing, changing, revising the School Counselor preparation at Higher Ed to ensure certain non-negotiable preparation standards for school counselors (SC) in College and Career Readiness (CCR)
  • Developing, improving, and sustaining partnerships between university training programs and K-12 school districts to ensure appropriate field site placements and activities during fieldwork training and training for site supervisors and administrators with new school counselor requirements in CCR during placement
  • Supporting and ensuring professional development in districts for existing SC in CCR and ensuring collaborative scaffold roles partnering with college access partners
  • Creating policies, practices and procedures for hiring and placement of SC prepared to work in CCR
  • Providing opportunities to create strategic partnerships with donors and funders interested in supporting any or all of this work supporting and promoting new systemic change models and excellence in implementation and outcomes for SC, and the students we serve


November is 2014 National College Application Month

reach higher

The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

Presidential Proclamation National College Application Month



With hard work and determination, a great education should be within everyone’s reach. At the heart of America’s promise is the belief that we all deserve an equal opportunity to get ahead, and today more than ever — as we face greater global competition in a knowledge-based economy — a college degree is the surest path to a stable, middle-class life. During National College Application Month, we come together to encourage all students to take control of their own destiny by applying to continue their education beyond high school and to let them know that no matter where they come from or who they are — it does not matter if they are the first in their family to apply to college or if they have been told that they are simply not college material — there is an opportunity for them.

This fall, high school seniors across our Nation are making the decision to invest in their future by earning a post-secondary degree or credential, and as they navigate the college admissions process, my Administration is dedicated to supporting them with the tools and resources they need to succeed. To help more families afford a college degree, we have expanded grants, tax credits, and loans and invested in programs that help students manage and reduce the burdens of debt after they graduate. We created the College Scorecard to make it easier for students and families to compare colleges and find ones that are well-suited to their needs. And to help students better understand the costs of college and more easily compare aid packages offered by different institutions, we developed the Financial Aid Shopping Sheet. To access these and other resources — including College Navigator and a tool that helps determine the net price of any given college — Americans can go to www.WhiteHouse.gov/ReachHigher.

Applying to college is hard work, but it is only the beginning of a journey that requires persistence and focus. A college degree unlocks pathways to opportunity; it prepares today’s students for the jobs of the future and is a requirement for the educated workforce and informed citizenry our country needs to create growth, bolster our economy, and strengthen our democracy. That is why as a Nation, we must lift up our students, help them achieve their greatest potential, and work together toward an important goal: to lead the world in college completion.

This month, we celebrate the limitless possibility within every child. We honor the teachers, school counselors, and parents who help students apply to college. We recognize the institutions that are taking steps to ensure they reach the best and brightest students, regardless of their background, and all those who ensure the next generation is prepared for success, including businesses who open their doors to interns and the alumni, foundations, and faith-based organizations that provide scholarships. Let us remind all students that it is never too early to start planning for their future or reaching for their dreams.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim November 2014 as National College Application Month. I call upon public officials, educators, parents, students, and all Americans to observe this month with appropriate ceremonies, activities, and programs designed to encourage students to make plans for and apply to college.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirty-first day of October, in the year of our Lord two thousand fourteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-ninth.



California GEAR UP Hosts Regional Leadership Events


CALIFORNIA GEAR UP “Round-Up” in Riverside, CA

Developed to meet the diverse and complex needs of California GEAR UP middle schools, the 2014 Regional Leadership Events provided a forum for school teams to problem solve together and learn from each other about school practices, challenges and solutions.  The events were facilitated by Whole School Services Coaches with content designed to respond to the needs of each unique middle school community. Activities were customized to engage and support participating schools within each region aligned with target areas of growth identified in the School Self Assessment Rubric.

Goals of the Regional Leadership Events:

  • Develop and expand working, cohesive school teams;
  • Share and reflect on leadership and approaches for developing leadership;
  • Network to share smart practices and opportunities for continued regional work;
  • Reflect on progress in building a sustainable college-going culture using the SSAR;
  • Use data to identify and address challenges to access and equity for All students;
  • Develop implementation plans for of GEAR UP partner resources and services;
  • Complete the PDAP and Communication Plan.

 The North State Regional Collaborative hosted at the Tehama County Department of Education in Red Bluff offered leadership teams from GEAR UP middle schools and their feeder high schools a unique opportunity for vertical teaming and articulation.  Participants gained a renewed sense of, and commitment to, vertical teaming as a successful strategy to improve student achievement and access to multiple educational pathways. This event offers great promise for the future of the region as many school practitioners had been operating in isolation without direct interaction and planning with their lower and upper grade counterparts.

 Brad Trimble-California GEAR UP School Services Coach


Big takeaways: The exchange of ideas, events, projects, etc. as a result of the “reflecting on the past” exercise has been mentioned a number of times.  One (GEAR UP) site contact returned to school and, using her notes, immediately drafted a memo of implementation listing ideas to share with the rest of her staff.  The group-alike breakout sessions gave teachers, administrators, counselors and out of classroom advisers a chance to share job specific experiences in building a college-going culture.  The regional event provided an opportunity for participants to work collaboratively and function as a learning community.

 Jon Sides-California GEAR UP School Services Coach


Low-income students often have the greatest need for opportunities to make sense of their world and develop intellectual autonomy.  Without these experiences it can be challenging for them to articulate their needs and views.  Accordingly, it was a pleasure working alongside educators as part of GEAR UP’s early college access program so that we can rally around this common goal.  They were passionate about this need for equity and work hard every day to make it happen.

 Robert Kaplinsky-Featured Speaker


The mission 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. California GEAR UP is a program of the University of California Office of The President Education Partnerships department and has served whole school communities across the state since 1999.


Learn more on the California GEAR UP website and follow on Twitter and Facebook.



CaliforniaColleges.edu Launches Mobile App

CCGI logo

CCGI’s mobile app, College Guide, is available on the Apple and Google Play App Stores.

splash - fix

College Guide provides high school students (10th, 11th, and 12th), their parents, and their counselors with:

  • A project management tool to navigate and track all the important goals
    related to college and financial aid planning.
  • A thorough task list that users can mark as completed, add to their calendar, and share via social networks.
  • Push notifications about key deadlines and important tips in the college planning and application process.
  • Links to relevant web resources both on the CaliforniaColleges.edu portal and beyond.

How students can use College Guide:

  • Use “My Tasks” to view tasks chronologically. Review and complete college and financial aid planning tasks in order of what is due next!
  • Watch your progress by category using “My Progress.” The progress bar keeps you on track!
  • Customize which tasks you see on your task list by updating your college aspirations in “Settings.”
  • Access online resources either on CaliforniaColleges.edu or other trusted websites.
  • Share deadlines and tips with your friends via Facebook and Twitter.

my progress - fix

How parents can use College Guide:

  • Use the app with the user profile “Parents” and get messaging specific to you!
  • Support your students’ efforts by reviewing and completing college and financial aid planning tasks!
  • Receive messaging for multiple grade levels if you have more than one child in high school.
  • Access online resources either on CaliforniaColleges.edu or other trusted websites.
  • Use the “Glossary” and “Frequently Asked Questions” as you go!

How counselors can use College Guide:

  • Use the app with the user profile “Counselors,” and get push notifications specific to you!
  • You will see the exact same messaging as your students, so you can shadow their goals and tasks.
  • Select each of the grade levels you work with (10th, 11th, and 12th) and toggle back and forth to see the goals and tasks for each grade.

For help using our tools, contact our customer support team at support@californiacolleges.org.

– See more at: https://secure.californiacolleges.edu/home/college_guide.aspx#sthash.xqiPnKp0.dpuf


New Edendale Middle School College Bulletin Boards


College Bulletin Boards -Edendale Middle School

The creation of our feeder collegiate bulletin board is a direct outgrowth of my attendance at the BARLI conference at Mills College, Oakland, CA. There was a board featuring a program at Mills College and I said why not have our own board featuring our feeder colleges and universities here in the Bay Area monthly? The names and cities where they are located are close and familiar to our students and their families already. Places they can actually visit and attend events to get familiar with the campuses and their staff. It also a means of planting seeds of encouragement and confidence in them. On Wednesday’s there is an element highlighted on the college featured this month during our morning announcements.

We are expanding on this idea as well with the creation of a “College Corner” located in our library featuring books to further their interest and exploration of a featured or other school. We also have another board dedicated to general information on “Thinking College” in our entry hallway. We are making the dream of a college education a reality that is accessible; by connecting them, informing and allowing them to visualize their own college experience.

Special thanks to our guest blogger Gina Lewis from Edendale Middle School. Gina is the community liaison and member of the GEAR UP leadership team.


North State Regional Collaborative-Tehama County


PURPOSE:  The purpose of the California GEAR UP 2014 Regional Events is to develop regional support networks that provide opportunities for schools to learn from each other and problem solve together about common concerns and issues.  These events will be facilitated by Whole School Services Coaches with content based on advice from School Leadership Team members.  The events are customized to meet the needs of participating schools within each region and in alignment with target areas of growth identified in the GEAR UP School Self Assessment Rubric.


Tehama County Department of Education – October 15 & 16, 2014 

Guiding Question: How do we better support and engage our students as they transition from middle to high school?

Wednesday, October 15 Participants:

Berrendos, Happy Valley, Richfield, Shasta Lake, & Vista Prep.

7:30 Breakfast

























Introductions & Agenda Brandon Santiago – Youth Speaks

  • Student engagement – Word Becomes Flesh with The Living Word Project.




Vista Preparatory Academy Video


Presentation from Vista Preparatory Academy Covering Their Transition from Departments to Instructional Houses


  • Why were instructional houses implemented at Vista?
  • What have been the successes and challenges within this model?
  • How has this structure affected student behavior, school climate, and academic achievement?




School Site Planning & Collaboration


  • Complete 2014-2015 Professional Development Action Plan
  • Complete 2014-2015 Communications Plan


Reflective Group Discussion



Conclusion & Charge for Thursday






Tehama County Department of Education – October 15 & 16, 2014

Guiding Question: How do we better support and engage our students as they transition from middle to high school?

Thursday, October 16 Participants: Berrendos, Central Valley, Corning, Happy Valley, Maywood, Red Bluff, Richfield, Shasta Lake, Vista Prep., & West Valley

7:30 Breakfast






































 Introductions & Agenda  Mark Cerutti – Associate Superintendent, Elk Grove Unified School District


  • Vertical teaming and regional work, a systems perspective.




CaliforniaColleges.edu – California College Guidance Initiative


  • Curriculum and guidance solutions to produce college and career ready graduates.


Facilitated Breakout Sessions


  • Middle & high school leadership teams introduced to the Articulation Action Agreement.
  • Leadership teams meet within feeder patterns to discuss how systems might be built or improved.
  • Initial consensus building and brainstorming opportunity.




Role-alike Breakout Sessions


  • Administration, Counselors, ELA, ELL, History/Social Science, Math, Science, and Special Education meet individually to further define their area-specific vertical teaming agenda and complete their components of the Articulation Action Agreement.


School Site Leadership Teams Convene


  • Complete 2014-2015 Articulation Action Agreement


Reflective Group Discussion


Schools Share Articulation Action Agreements for 2014-2015




The California Central Valley GEAR UP GET DOWN



PURPOSE:  The purpose of the California GEAR UP 2014 Regional Events is to develop regional support networks that provide opportunities for schools to learn from each other and problem solve together about common concerns and issues.  These events will be facilitated by Whole School Services Coaches with content based on advice from School Leadership Team members.  The events are customized to meet the needs of participating schools within each region and in alignment with target areas of growth identified in the GEAR UP School Self Assessment Rubric.

The California Central Valley


October 1, 2014


 Theme: Developing the “why?” in leadership and cohesive teams to influence school change at GEAR UP school sites


  • Develop working cohesive school teams
  • Learn the tenets of cohesive teams and why they are important
  • Increase ability to influence others and the capacity to effect change
  • Share and reflect on leadership and approaches for developing leadership within the team
  • Network to share smart practices and build opportunities for additional regional work 

7:30 – 8:30 a.m.           Breakfast and Registration

                                    Lobby of UC Merced Extension Office, Fresno, CA

8:30 – 8:45 a.m.         Welcome

                                   Martin De Mucha Flores

8:45 – 9:15 a.m.           Morning Plenary Speaker

                                    Encarnacion Ruiz, UC Merced Director of Admissions

9:30 – 10:45 a.m.         Workshop Session I

  • The Dynamic and Cohesive Team
  • Leadership & Management – Why They Are Not Synonymous
  • An Equity Lens: Critical Literacy in Our Professional and Personal Development

 11:00 – 12:15 p.m.      Workshop Session II

  • The Dynamic and Cohesive Team
  • Leadership & Management – Why They Are Not Synonymous
  • An Equity Lens: Critical Literacy in Our Professional and Personal Development

 12:15 – 1:00 p.m.        Lunch   

1:10 – 2:20 p.m.         Workshop Session III

  • The Dynamic and Cohesive Team
  • Leadership & Management – Why They Are Not Synonymous
  • An Equity Lens: Critical Literacy in Our Professional and Personal

2:30 – 3:15 p.m.          Afternoon Plenary

                                    Raul Morreno, Coordinator, University Migrant Services

3:15 – 3:30 p.m.          Evaluations


“We don’t say good luck, we say never give up.” Anonymous