New College Readiness Interactive Map Launches

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The CCRS Interactive State Map presents the broad landscape of college and career readiness. The map provides a snapshot of key college and career readiness policies, including:

1) College and Career Ready Definitions
2) College and Career Ready Metrics
3) Programs and Structures
– See more at here.

The profiles for each state were developed from a variety of sources, including publically available information from the websites of state education agencies, the U.S. Department of Education, and private organizations, and are not intended to be a comprehensive view of all college and career readiness policies, programs, and initiatives within each state. Links to additional information and resources for each state related to college and career readiness also are included. The state map is updated on a regular basis to ensure state profiles reflect accurate, up-to-date information. For more information about our state map or guidance on how to use this resource, please contact ccrscenter@air.orgEmail links icon

The College and Career Readiness and Success Center (CCRS Center) was launched October 1, 2012, under a five-year grant from the United States Department of EducationExternal Links icon (ED) to the American Institutes for ResearchExternal Links icon (AIR) along with our five lead partners—the American Youth Policy Forum, the College Board, Quill Research Associates, the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium, and the Forum for Youth Investment. The Center’s mission is to help states and other CCRS stakeholders better inform, align, and support efforts to ensure that all students are ready for success in college and careers.



California Helps Low-Income Students Succeed In College

FILE - In this Feb. 26, 2015 file photo, students walk on the UCLA campus in Los Angeles. Fewer California high school students have been offered admission to University of California campuses for the fall, officials reported Thursday, July 2, 2015, while the number accepted from outside the state and abroad has again increased.  (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)

FILE – In this Feb. 26, 2015 file photo, students walk on the UCLA campus in Los Angeles. Fewer California high school students have been offered admission to University of California campuses for the fall, officials reported Thursday, July 2, 2015, while the number accepted from outside the state and abroad has again increased. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)

(repost from Huffington Post)

When it comes to recruiting and retaining an economically diverse student population, many colleges and universities in the US continue to fall short.

But some schools appear to be doing better than others. Many of them, as it turns out, are located in the same state: California.

In a story published last week in The New York Times’ The Upshot section, David Leonhardt points out that six of the top seven schools ranked in the paper’s second annual College Access Index are University of California campuses.

The rankings are based on three key factors — share of students receiving Pell grants, those students’ graduation rates and the annual cost of tuition, fees and housing combined for low- and middle-income students.

While Leonhardt reports that, based on the index, economic diversity at the nation’s top colleges and university has stagnated, some campuses are making progress.

The University of California schools are seeing success, he argues, because of their “aggressive” push to keep tuition affordable for low-income, first-generation students and to prioritize the community-college transfer pipeline.

This achievement is at risk, however, because state funding stagnation — and threats of further cuts — have made for a lower number of in-state students being enrolled at the state’s public universities when compared with wealthier out-of-state and international students, who pay higher tuition.

The feature includes video interviews with students who participate in LEDA, a national program that helps low-income students succeed in college, and who spoke to the challenges they’ve encountered while pursuing their education.

In a companion piece to the new index, Leonhardt reports on the increased popularity of an easier-to-understand financial-aid calculator developed by Wellesley College two years ago. Previous coverage from the Times on this issue has included the efforts of Washington University to recruit more economically-diverse students and the creation of a new annual prize awarded to top colleges that excel at enrolling and graduating low-income students.


California GEAR UP Announces Partnership Initiative

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The California Partnership Initiative (CPI) is a project of the California State GEAR UP Program. Since 1999, the California State program has enjoyed working in collaboration with GEAR UP partnership projects to reach our mutual goals:  increasing college and career readiness for low income students and improving the college going culture in schools. CPI was formalized at the National GEAR UP conference in Washington, DC in July 2014. This initiative brings together the 20 active partnership projects and the state grant to strengthen our efforts for ALL students throughout California. The target audience is all GEAR UP Staff in California.

Project Goals:

To advance, inform and improve our collective work

To leverage the energy, resources and expertise of GEAR UP in California

To support and sustain GEAR UP efforts statewide


Create an online information network

Foster sustainable regional efforts to promote systemic change for schools and students

Convene an annual Statewide GEAR UP conference

Create a professional learning community of GEAR UP Professionals.


November 18, 2015 CPI Statewide Convening The Atrium Hotel – Irvine, CA Orange County, CA

“The on-going collaboration between the multiple GEAR UP partnerships under the direction of our California State GEAR UP grant continues to provide excellent resources, connections and networking to enhance significant successes with our GEAR UP students, parents, and communities throughout the state of California!”

Julie Johnson, Director Mira Costa College GEAR UP

More to come on this exciting initiative, sign up for our newsletter or check our website often for updates and registration.


National GEAR UP Week 2015

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As we approach the end of National GEAR UP Week for 2015, we’re thrilled with the outcome of your efforts to showcase the people, strategies, and impact of GEAR UP on diverse communities in nearly every corner of the country. We’ve certainly had a blast seeing the joyful faces of GEAR UP, witnessing school-based events in action, and sharing the resounding message that GEAR UP truly works. We are amazed by your creativity and we’re certain that your hard work has paid off.

The stories are still coming in and we plan to showcase them here and on Facebook.

Jones Junior High School in Baldwin Park, CA had a blast with the full week of activities that included a ‘Whip It’ flash mob!

Monday 9/21 – College Posters in the Quad, Mascot Game, Teachers share college experiences in all classes

Tuesday 9/22 – Map of U.S. with staff members colleges displayed in the cafeteria, A-G Jeopardy game in the Library

Wednesday 9/23 – Colleges Celebrities Attended Powerpoint, Pledge Cards in the Quad

Thursday 9/24 – College Cheers Flash Mob, Art Contest Gallery Walk in Library, College T-Shirt Competition

Friday 9/25 – Judging of Poster Contest, Mascot Game PowerPoint, Raffle

Saturday 9/26 – BPUSD College Fair at BPHS


California GEAR UP Announces 2015 Fall Events



Whole School Services Regional Events

Professional Development for GEAR UP Middle Schools throughout California

PURPOSE:  To develop regional support networks to provide opportunities for GEAR UP 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.  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.

September 30, 2015 Southern California Fall Regional Institute Downey, CA
October 7, 2015 Riverside Fall Regional Institute Riverside, CA
October 21 & 22, 2015 Sacramento & Bay Area Collaborative Regional Institute Sacramento, CA
October 27 & 28, 2015 North State Regional Institute Redding, CA


California Partnership Initiative Conference

The California Partnership Initiative (CPI) is a project of the California State GEAR UP Program. Since 1999, the California State program has enjoyed working in collaboration with GEAR UP partnership projects to reach our mutual goals:  increasing college and career readiness for low income students and improving the college going culture in schools. CPI was formalized at the National GEAR UP conference in Washington, DC in July 2014. This initiative brings together the 19 active partnership projects and the state grant to strengthen our efforts for ALL students throughout California. The target audience is CA GEAR UP Staff.

Project Goals:

To advance, inform and improve our collective work

To leverage the energy, resources and expertise of GEAR UP in California

To support and sustain GEAR UP efforts statewide


November 18, 2015 CPI Statewide Convening Orange County, CA

*For more information and details go to


Becoming a Transformational School Leader



(This repost is courtesy of The Edvocate)

Though community-building takes time, its impact is long-lasting. In order to implement change in a school environment, creating a common vision is paramount. The biggest challenge for school leadership is handling different kinds of people, with various goals and interests. A school leader has to ensure that students are following curricula, excelling academically, and becoming outstanding members of society. In comparison, teachers’ are focused on meeting curricula deadlines and ensuring that students keep up with class work. The leader must confront student deviance , as well as teachers’ possible cynicism and lack of motivation.

A transformational school leader ensures students focus on their studies by being considerate of individuality, being charismatic in influencing them, and inspiring them. Instead of using set problem-solving techniques, he or she involves students and teachers to come up with solutions to problems as they arise. Transformational leaders in a school setting quickly identify areas in need of improvement, seeking out-of-the-box solutions. The leader identifies cynicism and intentions to quit among teachers, through consultation and individualized consideration. Realigning their values and goals to resonate with those of the school, the leader reassures teachers that they are needed and valued.

Emphasis in a transformational school shifts from “leadership” to “professionalism.” Direct leadership and professionalism do not mix. Studies show that professionalism cannot develop when stifled by command and instruction based leadership. Professionalism is more about competence than skill. It involves a higher degree of trust, and ensures a teacher’s commitment to caring, excellence, and to professionalism as a given.

T. J. Sergiovanni, proposed five alternative approaches to full transformational leadership in schools. These are:

• Technical leadership: sound management of school resources
• Human leadership: networking; establishing social and interpersonal bonds
• Educational leadership: expert knowledge on educational matters
• Symbolic leadership: role-modeling and behavior
• Cultural leadership: regarding the values, beliefs, and cultural identity of the school

The first three approaches—the technical, human, and educational aspects of leadership—are the primary influences on a school’s effectiveness. The symbolic and cultural aspects add the most value and are responsible for the overall excellence of the school. The traditional concept of direct leadership places an enormous burden on a school leader to run almost every aspect of leadership. Substituting a community-based approach, coupled with professionalism and cooperation, can produce speedy results. Transformational leadership can change the mindset of staff and students. Emphasis is placed on the school community, not just the leader’s interests.

Transformational leadership also brings about professionalism in the teaching staff by allowing them the autonomy and room to improve. Because a leader allows followers to meet and overcome challenges on their own, teachers are more involved in school affairs. Cooperative relationships are most likely to develop when challenges are surmounted together, without supervision from the leader.

Clearly, transformational leadership improves job performance through the four pillars of charismatic/idealized influence, individual consideration, inspirational motivation and intellectual stimulation. Studies have now shown that it also positively affects the psychological well-being of employees.

Transformational leadership helps in individual goal-setting and goal commitment, by transferring responsibility- making the individual feel part of a whole. In a shift of focus, the leader no longer offers rewards, but empowers followers to become leaders through mutual responsibility and trust. This inspires staff performance beyond leader expectations. Transformational leaders help their followers maximize performance, by finding and emphasizing common ground.

Research studies suggest that highly effective leadership styles positively influence student performance. Transformational leadership can bring about a wide range of results at a personal level (i.e., followers’ empowerment and identity) and at the group or organizational level (cohesiveness and collective power to make changes). It produces these positive effects primarily by shaping the followers’ self-worth and promoting identification with their leader.

What distinguishes a transformational leader is the combination of head and heart, and the ability to understand and apply emotions effectively to connect with and influence followers. Transformational leadership results in wide-ranging changes wherever it is introduced and is effective in solving problems in the school environment. It would be prudent for school leaders in the U.S. to utilize it in their school communities.



Scholarshare is Celebrating National College Savings Month

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ScholarShare, California’s 529 college savings plan, is celebrating National College Savings Month this September with a College Savings Pledge. Starting Tuesday, Sept. 1 through Friday, Sept. 25, Californians who take the pledge will be entered for the chance to win one of 20 ScholarShare 529 accounts, each in the amount of $500, for their child as well as a matching $500 prize for their child’s classroom. The pledge is aimed at encouraging young children to aspire to go to college. For more details about this special promotion, including the Official Rules,

Recently ranked second among all direct-sold 529 plans for three-year performance by, ScholarShare is California’s state-sponsored 529 college savings plan, offering low fees, tax advantages, a variety of investment choices, no annual account maintenance fees, and flexible savings options to meet your unique savings needs. With a low initial contribution amount of $25, ScholarShare makes it easy for anyone to get started.

Please join ScholarShare in spreading the word about taking a pledge to encourage higher education and college savings during the month of September for National College Savings Month.  To learn more about ScholarShare, contact us toll-free at 1-800-544-5248 or visit


California Braces For Lower Student Test Results


Repost from LA Times Education columnist @Howard Blume.

Even before new state test scores are released this week, one thing is already clear: Results will be lower than in years past. Probably much lower.

In other words, a much smaller percentage of students will be regarded as academically proficient for their grade level.

California on Wednesday rejoins the national debate over standardized testing, including what students should learn and how teachers and schools should be held accountable.

State by state, the results of these tests, or similar ones, have shown a clear, downward pattern.

Previous standardized tests were based on California’s learning goals for each grade. Now, the test is gauging students’ knowledge against new learning standards, called the Common Core, which has been adopted by 42 states.

Critics of public schools call the test results evidence of a failing system. Critics of testing say the low scores are causing unnecessary anxiety and advise against attaching too much importance to them. Some also express concern about using results as grounds to dismiss teachers, while others applaud that possibility.

But with the expectation of low scores comes another message from most officials: Don’t panic.

“No one should be discouraged by the scores,” state Supt. of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said in a statement. “They can help guide discussions among parents and teachers and help schools adjust instruction to meet student needs.”

Others cautioned the same: “Previous tests should not be compared to this test,” said Luci Willits, deputy director of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, the group overseeing the test, which also is being given in other states. “These are totally different tests and totally different standards.”

The new results should be considered a baseline for student achievement, said Willits, whose group is now headquartered at UCLA.

The test itself is more difficult, and how the test is scored makes it more difficult for students to be considered academically proficient. Students by the end of high school must now show they are prepared for college-level work, a higher bar than under the old test.

A governing board for the test set four levels of achievement, and then let each state decide how to identify them. In California, the four levels are: standard exceeded, standard met, standard nearly met or standard not met.

“Standard exceeded” can be roughly compared to the former rating of “advanced.” “Standard met” is similar to the former “proficient.”

The test also has progressed beyond a simple multiple choice format to include written responses of various lengths. Students are given more complex questions, requiring deeper thinking about a theme in literature, for example, or about the concepts of algebra or geometry, say experts who laud the new approach.

“This is a better way of assessing students,” said Cynthia Lim, head of data and accountability for L.A. Unified School District. “It shows a lot of promise. This has great potential for instruction because the tests are more tailored to individual students.”

The performance estimates are based on the outcome of field tests in 21 states two years ago.

As in other states, there has been intense disagreement in California over standardized tests and how they should be used. But so far, Common Core and the new tests have proved less controversial in this state than elsewhere, where opponents have emerged from the left and right, as well as among parents and other members of the public.

Parents face a test of their own: making sense of a new flood of data, jargon and acronyms.

The new test is called the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress, or CAASPP.

English and math tests were administered last spring to students in grades 3 through 8 and grade 11. They were given on desktop computers, tablets and laptops.

The old testing system is still being used for science exams given in grades 5, 8 and 10.

California is among a group of states that joined to create a test, under the name Smarter Balanced. As many as 22 states took part, but five have dropped out. Even so, for the first time, it will be possible to make a direct comparison between the scores in participating states.

Other states are part of another group using a different test and others are opting for different exams, with or without the Common Core learning standards.

The Smarter Balanced test was developed with assistance from a $185-million federal grant.

What California parents won’t see is the familiar Academic Performance Index for each school. The index, which was based solely on test scores, profoundly influenced public perception of individual schools and affected whether they received plaudits or penalties. State lawmakers and experts still are debating what to include in a new index.

In addition, California districts cannot yet use the new test scores in teachers’ performance evaluations.

More in education from the LA Times. 

7 Myths About Cage Busting Leadership


From the Harvard Education Publishing Group, this is reposted as part of our series on Leadership and is written by Frederick Hess about his new book, Cage-Busting Leadership. 

I’ve been on the road this spring, talking with educators, community leaders, advocates, policy makers, and foundation types about my new book, Cage-Busting Leadership. In doing so, I’ve been struck by some of the mythology that seems to shape what people think it means to be a cage-busting principal, superintendent, or school system official. The book argues that school, system, and state leaders can do much more than they often realize but tend to be hindered by a “culture of can’t” in which urban legends (“the contract requires that teacher assignment be driven by seniority—when it actually doesn’t”), misinformation (“we’re not allowed to spend Title I funds that way“), and undue caution (“we’re not sure if that’s an fully approved use of school improvement funds“) stop them from doing what they think will be best for students.

By contrast, a cage-busting leader focuses on identifying opportunities to promote great teaching and learning, works with her team to devise smart solutions, and then uses every inch of her authority to assign teachers, employ Title I funds, and spend school improvement dollars in ways that she thinks will make the biggest difference for students. Rather than pursue “instructional leadership” within the conventionally accepted confines of policy, regulation, and contract, the cage-buster challenges those conventions so that she can drive instructional leadership more powerfully.

Anyway, I mentioned that some myths seemed to have cropped up. So, what are some of these myths . . . and what’s the real story?

Myth 1: Cage-busting holds that instructional leadership, buy-in, and school culture don’t matter and distract school and system leaders from questions of teaching and learning.

The Real Story: Look, let me be really clear. Instructional leadership, strong cultures, stakeholder buy-in, and professional practice are all good things. The mistake is to imagine that leaders can foster these things successfully or sustainably without addressing the obstacles posed by regulations, rules, and routines. We’re all on the same page when it comes to recognizing that school leadership is about nurturing great teaching and teaching. The cage-busting point is that it’s frequently hard to do that well given the cages erected in today’s schools and systems. Cage-busters value school culture but, like Principal Adrian Manuel did in New York City, will work with their faculty to waive contract provisions restricting teaching loads so that faculty teams have one full day a week to meet as an instructional team.

Myth 2: Cage-busters are ill-tempered union haters who yearn for conflict.

The Real Story: Cage-busting is not about picking fights, attacking unions, or firing people. Period. It doesn’t give cage-busters license to wantonly alienate educators or community members. It is nothing more, and nothing less, than thinking ambitiously about how to create great schools and then doing what it takes to make them real. Not only is cage-busting not an assault on unions, but it holds that leaders need to stop blaming unions, contracts, tight budgets, and the rest for their own failure to lead. A careful reading of contracts and regulations can reveal that leaders already have much more freedom than they might think to reward hard-working educators, address poor performance, or reconfigure staffing. Yes, some employees or families will inevitably take issue with some decisions. And any cage-buster worth her salt will stand fast rather than back off from doing what she thinks is best for her students. But conflict is not the goal. In fact, antiunion broadsides too often excuse timid, lethargic leadership. After studying Massachusetts’ collective bargaining agreements, for instance, Vanderbilt professor Dale Ballou observed, “On virtually every issue of personnel policy, there are contracts that grant administrators the managerial prerogatives they are commonly thought to lack. When more flexible language is negotiated, administrators do not take advantage of it [but still] blame the contract for their own inaction.” In Cage-Busting Leadership, I note a bushel of similar examples and research.

Myth 3: Cage-busting leadership is less important than it was five years ago because school leaders have more power to hold people accountable and drive school improvement, given new teacher evaluation systems and turnaround efforts.

The Real Story: Actually, these developments make cage-busting more relevant than ever. New teacher evaluation systems in Tennessee and Florida have led to remarkably modest changes in the rigor of teacher evaluation—with the percentage of educators rated effective “plunging” from 99 percent to 97 or 98 percent. Whoops! The Center for Reinventing Public Education has raised important questions about the ambition and coherence of today’s turnaround efforts. These policies create opportunities to boost quality, but their results require leaders with the skill and will to take full advantage. These policies are helpful, reducing the barriers that leaders face and giving them new tools. But those opportunities make a cage-busting mind-set that much more critical. Turnaround efforts can be a powerful opportunity to redesign schools, leverage new technology, and radically alter expectations and routines—but only when school and system leaders use them accordingly.

Myth 4: Cage-busting implies that tackling policy doesn’t matter, that school improvement is all about charismatic leaders.

The Real Story: Some have wondered whether I’ve misplaced my familiar skepticism and now imagine that remarkable leaders can wish away the hard truth of troubling policies and outdated systems. I do not. Policy matters enormously. Let’s keep it simple. It is absolutely true, as would-be reformers often argue, that statutes, policies, rules, regulations, contracts, and case law make it tougher than it should be for school and system leaders to drive improvement and, well, lead. However, what I’m arguing is that it’s equally true that leaders have far more freedom to transform, reimagine, and invigorate teaching, learning, and schooling than is widely believed. And this is a challenge that would-be reformers have too often failed to note, or address.

Myth 5: Michelle Rhee and Joel Klein are the alpha and omega of cage-busting leadership.

The Real Story: Not at all. First, I take pains in the book to try not to name any particular list of cage-busters. Lots of leaders have some potential cage-buster in them. In fact, the book is rife with cage-busting anecdotes and tales from more than 100 leaders from schools, systems, and states. Now, Rhee and Klein absolutely exhibited some cage-busting chops in overhauling the central office, freeing school and system leaders to repurpose funds, revamping teacher evaluation, removing mediocre school leaders, and forcefully tackling persistently low-performing schools. But the combative approach they adopted is just one of many that cage-busters may employ. While some cage-busters tend to be heated and dramatic, there are plenty of others who tend to be cool, calm, and collected. What defines a cage-buster is not their personality but a probing mind, an unwillingness to accept convention as a given, and an appetite for smart, strategic ways to solve problems and promote great teaching and learning. Recall that Rhee and Klein were nontraditional leaders who came into recalcitrant, troubled, urban systems in major media centers, and that they were outsiders hired to produce dramatic change. How they went out about it was noteworthy and (to my mind) invigorating, but there are plenty of cage-busting leaders who make fewer headlines because they adopt a less controversial course. As more educators, in more contexts, with a variety of skills embrace cage-busting, I’m confident that we’ll see more publicized models of how to bust the cage in a variety of ways.

Myth 6: Cage-busting leadership is only necessary in district schools; it doesn’t apply to charter schools or private schools.

The Real Story: Even charter schools, supposedly besotted with autonomy, frequently choose to dwell in the cage. The reality is that most charters haven’t done all that much with their newfound autonomy. The National Center on School Choice at Vanderbilt University reported in 2011 that the role of charter school principals “was not significantly different” from that of district principals. As a whole, the nation’s 5,000 charter schools have done a modest job of leveraging the ability to rethink the school day or hire, pay, and use teachers in smarter ways. In a 2011 study of charter school collective bargaining agreements, the Center on Reinventing Public Education’s Mitch Price noted that, despite the chance “to craft agreements from scratch . . . charter school contracts look quite similar to their district counterparts.” Charter leaders can be trapped by mind-set, even when rules or requirements are relaxed.

Myth 7: Cage-busting is just for martyrs; it’s a sure recipe for leaders having to go find a new job.

The Real Story: It’s true that school boards, business leaders, parents, editorial boards, and civic leaders tend to have long prized tranquility above excellence. Leaders who keep the waters calm, avoid harsh cuts, and say the right things have tended to earn good reputations and laudatory press. But things change. In the past decade, the center of gravity has shifted in K–12, producing more tolerance and enthusiasm for cage-busting than was once the case. Charter schooling, virtual delivery, value-added systems, and new providers offer bold leaders new tools and a new set of attractive opportunities. Accountability systems, increased transparency, and tight budgets have made it easier to justify tough-minded changes. A growing number of cage-busters, backed by impassioned advocates, foundations, and public officials, means there’s safety in numbers. And cage-busters themselves can boost the odds that they’ll be more than martyrs.

That’s why Cage-Busting Leadership is stuffed with strategies that can help leaders leverage existing rules, reduce friction, frame the public debate, mobilize allies, operate strategically, and avoid reckless posturing. It shares lessons from superintendents who have shown how they can work within existing contracts while finding new ways to reward valued teachers and principals who take on important challenges. School and system leaders have shown how tough, disruptive choices (like launching a new program or creating a new academy) can be made palatable—even popular—by allowing faculty and families to opt in. School leaders have shown how they can more expeditiously and systematically deal with the handful of “bad apple” staff so that they can devote more time and energy to supporting and coaching the 90 percent who are eager for such help.

Frederick M. Hess is director of education policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute and author of Cage-Busting Leadership (Harvard Education Press, 2013).


2015 GEAR UP National Conference Wrap Up

 July 19-22, 2015 San Francisco, California

The 2015 GEAR UP Annual Conference took take place July 19–22, 2015 at the Hilton San Francisco Union Square in San Francisco, California.  The Annual Conference actualized the theme: Together we Rise and featured five plenary sessions, approximately 135 concurrent sessions, and a variety of pre- and post-conference events.


“Awesome NCCEP conference this year. My team was fully Engaged, Excited and Energized! The California delegation is mobilized to excel and prove why GEAR UP is the most effective college readiness program in the nation.  We will be sharing what we learned at the conference, focused on improving service to schools, students and families throughout our State.”
 Shelley Davis, Director

California GEAR UP
At the conference, California GEAR UP convened the second ever meeting of all the GEAR UP programs across the state, now called the California Partnership Initiative. The California Partnership Initiative (CPI) is a project of the California State GEAR UP Program. Since 1999, the California State program has enjoyed working in collaboration with GEAR UP partnership projects to reach our mutual goals: increasing college and career readiness for low income students and improving the college going culture in schools.  CPI was formalized at the National GEAR UP conference in Washington, DC in July 2014 and continued at the national conference this year. The CPI planning committee was formed and representatives from the partnership projects met again at the NCCEP CBW in Philadelphia in February 2015. This initiative brings together the 19 active partnership projects and the state grant to strengthen our efforts for ALL students throughout California.
California GEAR UP was recognized this year as a leading program for both innovation and quality services, which was on display at a multitude of sessions from Parent Engagement in conjunction with PIQE to National GEAR UP week, to Common Core strategies, and the amazing work of Vista Preps focus on student teacher relationships.
“The conference was a wonderful reminder of the power of community.  Our leadership team was met with a warm welcome by GEAR UP personnel at every turn, whose genuine interest lies within their hearts as seen through their actions.  We were able to share ideas, which when  coupled with a genuine sharing of like-minded people whose focus is all the same allows one to come away with the architecture for the labor of passion that provides support to move mountains.”
Isaac Scharaga
Vista Preparatory Academy Principal/Conference Presenter
“In the spirit of Ranjit Sidhu, President and CEO of the National Council for Community and Education Partnerships, my reflections from the conference align with the his words on conference theme “we must celebrate our impact and rich history as a social movement, but at the same time, strive for even greater heights.” With the conference theme of unity: Together We Rise, the conference did inspire and motivate through speakers like Mary Mazzio and Sal Khan.”
Kay Coelho
California GEAR UP
One of the highlights of the conference every year is the GEAR UP Alumni Leadership Academy. In order to better support the GEAR UP mission nationwide, the National Council for Community and Education Partnerships (NCCEP) created the GUALA program to show the GEAR UP dream actualized.  GUALA works to advance college and career readiness in communities by providing 12 months of training for Alumni Leaders on topics related to peer-to-peer outreach and mentoring, social media engagement, public speaking, and education policy. It’s really cool to see the academy members talk about their struggles and demonstrate their resiliency.
Sean Brennan
California GEAR UP
The GEAR UP Youth Congress is a youth leadership program that implements a student-focused curriculum, blending leadership development with life skills and strategies for increased learning. Offered during the NCCEP/GEAR UP Annual Conference each July, GEAR UP students who participate in the Youth Congress have the opportunity to experience a professional conference while interacting and learning with other students from around the country.

“The experience was great! I am a HUGE
fan of GEAR UP and would like to thank
everyone who made this possible. I may
have only been here a few days but the
experience will stay with me forever!
Hope I’m invited again.”

— Youth Congress 10th Grader

As in past conferences, we were all exhausted from the extensive professional development, collegially working with other GEAR UP professionals, and learning more about effective practices from programs across the country. Now we return to our own organization to share what we learned and to be more effective in the powerful work we do every day.