Celebrate College Awareness Month at UCOP in February

Celebrate College Awareness Month at UCOP in February

Did you know that February is College Awareness Month? The Department of Education Partnerships is lining up several events and an exhibit to spotlight some of the UC individuals working to make college a reality for every deserving student. The California GEAR UP program is administered by the University of California Office of the President (UCOP) and works closely to sustain the capacity of schools across the state to prepare all students to be successful in college.

“We’re taking the opportunity to educate our UCOP colleagues about the work UC does to contribute to college preparation and access for K–12 students throughout the state,” said Yvette Gullatt, Education Partnerships assistant vice provost and executive director.

Here’s the lineup:

Hans Johnson, Friday, Feb. 1, 12 to 1 pm, Franklin Lobby 1 Conference Room

Hans Johnson (pictured above) is co-director of research and Bren Fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California. He will present his report, Defunding Higher Education: What are the Effects on College Enrollment? The report examines the status of college enrollment and graduation in California and its impacts on the state economy. Johnson received his M.A. and Ph.D. in biostatistics from UC Berkeley. Light refreshments will be provided.

Nancy Coolidge, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 12 to 1 pm, 5320 Franklin

Associate Director of Student Financial Support Nancy Coolidge continues her series of talks on student financial support. This talk, Comparing Financial Aid Awards, covers financial aid and the “real” cost of college to students and their families, as well as tips for bringing down the cost of college. This event is co-sponsored by the OP Staff Assembly.

COSMOS brown bag, Friday, Feb. 15, 12 to 1 pm, Franklin Lobby 1 Conference Room

Find out more about COSMOS, the California State Summer School for Mathematics and Science, a four-week residential program designed to cultivate high school students for careers in science, engineering and mathematics. There are COSMOS programs on four UC campuses, including Davis, Irvine, San Diego and Santa Cruz.

Evera Spears, Monday, Feb. 25, 12 to 1 pm, Franklin Lobby 1 Conference Room

In her talk, Preparing Students for College, Admissions Coordinator Evera Spears provides tips for making sure college is in the future for your child. With more than 30 years of UC experience, 10 as UC Berkeley’s associate director of undergraduate admissions, Spears is also a UC alumna. She has two children, one enrolled in UC and the other who transferred from a historically black college/university into the California State University system. This event is co-sponsored by Education Partnerships and the Black Staff and Faculty Association. Light refreshments will be provided.

A department of Academic Affairs, Education Partnerships manages programs, initiatives and services that help produce high-quality teachers for California and prepare strong students for college and careers.

College Awareness Month was instituted in 2001 by an act of the state legislature to heighten awareness of college preparation among school children and their parents.

For questions or more information about College Awareness Month events at UCOP, contact Reginald Hillmon at reginald.hillmon@ucop.edu.


EGUSD selected to participate in Linked Learning Pilot Program

January 9, 2013

The Elk Grove Unified School District (EGUSD), a California GEAR UP Partner and Bridge Project school district has been selected as one of 20 participants in a new state pilot program designed to help students graduate from high school prepared to succeed in college and careers.  EGUSD will implement the four-and-a-half year pilot program in its 16 “Linked Learning” California Partnership Academies as well through other district-wide programs.

The state-facilitated Linked Learning Pilot Program was established in 2011 through the passage of AB 790 by former Assembly Member Warren Furutani.  “Linked Learning” programs use coursework, technical training, work-based learning and other related support mechanisms to create connections between high school and college and career.  Both statewide and in EGUSD, students in Linked Learning programs graduate at higher rates and with skills and knowledge needed in the California workforce.  This pilot will be used to assess how Linked Learning can be expanded to other schools in California.

“The district has brought to fruition many career academies and pathways that offer rigorous and relevant educational experiences for our students,” said EGUSD Superintendent Steven M. Ladd, Ed.D. “Through these programs, our students leave high school well prepared to be successful in college or careers in the 21st century.”

At Elk Grove Unified, the district’s 16 California Partnership Academies and their success in connecting academics to workforce development will be the focus of the program’s implementation.  Through Linked Learning, the district will enhance district-wide systems of support to increase access to career pathways for every student in EGUSD.  The Elk Grove Unified School District also plans on serving as a model for other districts throughout California that are interested in starting or retooling their pathway programs.

“Participation in Linked Learning extends EGUSD’s ongoing commitment to career technical education and multiple pathways to student success in college and career,” said Kathy Hamilton, director of career technical, charter and adult education for the district.  “Through participation, EGUSD will be better positioned to receive state and federal funding for CTE-related programs as it becomes available over the next several years.”

Click here for more information about Linked Learning.


Sweeping Updates to Career Technical Education Announced

SACRAMENTO—Sweeping updates to California’s career technical education (CTE) standards—designed to reflect the changing face of technology and set higher academic goals—received approval from the State Board of Education Wednesday, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced.

The new standards are one of the cornerstone achievements of Torlakson’s Career Readiness Initiative. Building on the previous CTE standards, the revised standards were created with input from more than 300 representatives from business and industry, labor, and postsecondary and secondary education, ranging from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to mental health experts and environmental innovators.

          “This new framework sheds light on many new 21st century industry pathways, from game design and mental and behavioral health to green energy and international business,” Torlakson said. “They also tie in well with the rigorous academics and modern relevance demanded under the Common Core State Standards.”

Some two million students across California are already pursuing career technical education in their middle or high schools. Students in these programs tend to graduate at a higher rate than their counterparts.

The new standards, written for grades seven through twelve, lay out 59 pathways to graduating ready for careers and college within 15 industry sectors. Public hearings on the changes were held in Sacramento and Los Angeles in the fall, in addition to an open public comment period.

The new standards reflect current business and industry practices, as well as the new expectations for skills and knowledge. Examples include:

  • Arts, Media, and Entertainment (added Game Design and Integration pathway);
  • Business and Finance (added an International Business pathway);
  • Energy, Environment, and Utilities (rewritten to reflect use of new energy sources);
  • Fashion and Interior Design (added a Personal Services pathway);
  • Health Science and Medical Technology (rewritten with new pathways for Patient Care, Public and Community Health, and Mental and Behavioral Health);
  • Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) (updated to include new ICT formats in communication and added a Games and Simulation pathway);
  • Public Services (rewritten to include new Emergency Response and Legal Practices pathways); and
  • Transportation (rewritten to include all new pathways to represent all phases and modes of transportation: Operations, Structural Repair and Refinishing, Systems Diagnostics and Service).


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For more information, please visit http://www.cde.ca.gov or by mobile device at http://m.cde.ca.gov/.

California Adopts Math Standards with Local Decision Making


SACRAMENTO—The State Board of Education yesterday voted to modify the California Additions to the adopted Common Core State Standards for Mathematics(CCSSM).

The Board’s action will help the state continue its progress toward implementing the Common Core State Standards, and provides options for accelerating to higher mathematics in middle school while maintaining the requirement that all students pass Algebra I before graduating from high school.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, who was required under Senate Bill 1200 to propose modifications that include basing Algebra I on the Common Core State Standards, praised the Board’s action.

“The Common Core—and common sense—calls for a students’ progress in mathematics to be based on their readiness to advance—not a timeline or a mandate from Sacramento,” Torlakson said. “Making this change now will help our schools make the transition to Common Core, and marks another step in our push to provide students the practical, real-world skills they need.”

California is part of a multistate consortium that developed the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics and English, which define what students should know at each grade level. Having a single, similar set of standards nationwide will help all students prepare for college or careers, even if they change schools or move to a different state. California adopted the CCSSM that included the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics in June 2010.

The move rescinds action by the prior Board in 2010, which adopted standards that contained a unique Grade 8 Algebra I course inconsistent with the published Common Core State Standards for Mathematics.

Torlakson recommended the unique Grade 8 Algebra I course be replaced with Algebra I and Mathematics I courses based upon the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics. He also recommended redundant standards in grades six and seven be eliminated. These changes clarify the mathematics standards for middle grades and provide the foundation for middle school courses, including algebra and higher mathematics courses in high school. Students must still pass Algebra I in order to graduate from high school.

Torlakson’s recommendations are presented in the Recommended Modifications to the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics with California Additions and Model Courses for Higher Mathematics. The modifications were developed with the help of Mathematics Curriculum Framework and Evaluation Criteria Committee and comments from two public hearings held in January 2013.

The CDE Press office will create a CCSSM publication and post it to the California Department of Education Web site. For more information about California’s implementation of the CCSSM, please visit the Department’s Common Core State Standards Implementation Web page.

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State Superintendent Proposes New Statewide Testing System

Common Core Assessments to Focus on Problem Solving and Critical Thinking

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today recommended shifting the focus of standardized testing in California to require students to think critically, solve problems, and show a greater depth of knowledge—key tenants of the new Common Core State Standards (CCSS).

In a report to the Governor and Legislature, Recommendations for Transitioning California to a Future Assessment SystemTorlakson made a dozen recommendations that would fundamentally change the state’s student assessment system, replacing the paper-and-pencil based Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) Program assessments with computerized assessments developed by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) starting in the 2014‒15 school year.

“Multiple-choice, fill-in-the-bubble tests alone simply cannot do the job anymore, and it’s time for California to move forward with assessments that measure the real-world skills our students need to be ready for a career and for college,” Torlakson said.

“As a teacher, what’s most exciting is that these new tests will serve as models for the kind of high-quality teaching and learning we want in every classroom every day,” Torlakson continued. “The concept is simple but powerful: if our tests require students to think critically and solve problems to do well on test day, those same skills are much more likely to be taught in our classrooms day in and day out.”

Torlakson’s report was mandated by Assembly Bill 250 (Brownley, D-Santa Monica), which the State Superintendent sponsored, to bring school curriculum, instruction, and the state assessment system into alignment with the CCSS. The state’s existing STAR Program assessments are scheduled to sunset July 1, 2014.

California is one of 45 states and three territories that formally have adopted the CCSS for mathematics and English‒language arts. The proposed revisions to align the state’s assessment system with the new standards mark a key milestone in implementing the Common Core.

California serves as a governing state in SBAC, a multistate‒led group that has been working collaboratively to develop a student assessment system aligned with the CCSS.

The SBAC was designed to meet federal- and state-level accountability requirements and provide teachers and parents with timely and accurate information to measure and track individual student growth.

Among the 12 recommendations is the suspension of particular STAR Program assessments for the coming school year unless the exams are specifically mandated by the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) or used for the Early Assessment Program (EAP). This would suspend STAR testing of second graders and end-of-course exams at the high-school level.

Torlakson also recommends that the state provide formative diagnostic tools developed by SBAC to all schools, which would provide teachers and schools with the option of receiving continuing informal feedback on the progress of students throughout the school year.

As required by AB 250, Torlakson’s recommendations reflect an assessment system that would meet the requirements of the current ESEA. But the report also puts forth several different approaches of assessment and urges policymakers to question the current regimen of testing all students, every year, in English‒language arts and mathematics.

Through work group meetings, focus groups, regional public meetings, a statewide survey, and an e-mail account specifically for public comments, thousands of stakeholders provided input to the California Department of Education regarding the state’s transition to a new assessment system.

“I extend my gratitude to the many teachers, school administrators, parents, students, business leaders, and higher education faculty for their expertise and experience that contributed to the formation of these recommendations, Torlakson said.

Recommendations for Transitioning California to a Future Assessment System can be found on the Statewide Pupil Assessment System Web page. More information on California’s efforts to implement the Common Core State Standards can be found on the California Department of Education’s Common Core State Standards Web page.

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2013 “Schools to Watch™” Model Middle Schools Announced

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Congratulates California’s 2013

“Schools to Watch™–Taking Center Stage” Model Middle Schools


SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today announced that 12 high-performing California middle schools have been newly designated as model middle grades schools in the Schools to Watch™−Taking Center Stage (STW−TCS) program. Another nine high-performing California schools will also retain their model middle grades schools status under the same program.

“My congratulations and admiration go out to these schools for continually striving to improve student performance,” Torlakson said. “Their success is the result of effective and innovative practices that motivate their students to learn and excel.”

STW‒TCS middle grades schools are high-performing model schools that demonstrate academic excellence, developmental responsiveness to the needs and interests of young adolescents, social equity, and organizational support. STW‒TCS model schools host visitors from California and around the world who are looking for replicable practices that will help them improve their middle grades schools and close the achievement gap.

The 12 newly designated STW‒TCS model middle grades schools are:

Fresno County

1.     Fairmont Elementary K-8 (Sanger Unified School District, Sanger)

2.     Quail Lake Environmental Charter K-8 (Sanger Unified School District, Sanger)

3.     Sanger Academy Charter K-8 (Sanger Unified School District, Sanger)

The three schools are small, rural K-8 schools that have specific programs for middle grades students and have significantly closed the achievement gap. They act as one professional learning community frequently collaborating on better instructional strategies. (In 2011, Sanger Unified’s Washington Academic Middle School was designated a STW−TCS.)

Los Angeles County

4.    Frank J. Zamboni Middle School (Paramount Unified School District, Paramount) is an urban school whose Academic Performance Index (API) scores (on a scale ranging from 200 to 1000, with 800 established as the statewide target) in nearly every student group have risen from the 600’s in 2006-07 to the 800’s in 2011-12. Students who are English learners scored at 789, but made a significant 27-point growth last year. The staff has focused on poverty issues facing their students as part of their concern for the whole child.

Orange County

5.    Pioneer Middle School (Tustin Unified School District, Tustin) has seen significant and sustained improvement over the past five years in student achievement, meeting all significant subgroup targets on state standardized tests. The school developed a successful program, Pyramid on Interventions, to assist all students in becoming proficient, as well as having been recognized as a national professional learning community model.

6.    Thurston Middle School (Laguna Beach Unified School District, Laguna Beach) is a suburban school and has made all its growth targets every year on state standardized tests by supporting all students in using “Best First Practices” and “Response to Intervention” strategies.

San Bernardino County

7.    Summit Intermediate School (Etiwanda School District, Etiwanda) is a suburban school that has made significant increases on state standardized tests over the past five years. Nearly every numerically significant student group is at or above the 800 statewide target. These diverse learners have had increased learning opportunities with “X-Time,” a period where teachers provide additional support.

8.    Vanguard Preparatory K-8 (Apple Valley Unified School District, Apple Valley) is a rural school with more than 1,000 students that is consistently closing the achievement gap. With a focus on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), the school offers family STEM nights to explore these areas.

Santa Clara County

9.    Union Middle School (Union Elementary School District, San Jose) is a suburban school whose API score is a noteworthy 932 points and is ranked in the top 10 percent of state middle schools. Part of the school’s success is due to the school’s collaborative approach, “Intervention on a Page,” that provides all the necessary information for student support.

Santa Cruz County

10. San Lorenzo Valley Middle School (San Lorenzo Valley Unified School District, Felton) is a rural school with a smaller population of about 500 students. The school has gained 46 points on the API since 2007, while the socioeconomically disadvantaged student population has gained 82 points. During the third week of the year, academic counseling and intervention is started so that no child is allowed to fall behind academically.

11. Scotts Valley Middle School (Scotts Valley Unified School District, Scotts Valley) is a suburban school with a growing diverse population and whose state’s standardized test scores show a closing of the achievement gap. The support strategy is using the “Enrichment” period where many services are offered to meet individual needs.

Ventura County

12.  Sinaloa Middle School  (Simi Valley Unified School District, Simi Valley) is a suburban school that is closing the achievement gap with all of its student groups. The API scores for students with disabilities have increased 96 points on state standardized tests since 2007. The school has a plethora of strategies that the faculty has developed through collaboration to engage its students.


The redesignated model middle schools are:

1.    Canyon Middle School (Castro Valley Unified School District, Castro Valley, Alameda County); a STW‒TCS school for six years

2.    Edna Hill Middle School (Brentwood Union School District, Brentwood, Contra Costa County); a STW‒TCS school for six years

3.    Frank M. Wright Middle School (Imperial Unified School District, Imperial, Imperial County); a STW‒TCS school for six years

4.    Granger Junior High (Sweetwater Union High School District, National City, San Diego County); a STW‒TCS school for three years   and previous California GEAR UP School.

5.    John Glenn Middle School (Desert Sands Unified School District, Indio, Riverside County); a STW‒TCS school for nine years

6.    Medea Creek Middle School (Oak Park Unified School District, Oak Park, Los Angeles County); a STW‒TCS schools for nine years

7.    Mistletoe School (Enterprise Elementary School District, Redding, Shasta County); a STW‒TCS school for three years

8.    Oliver Wendell Holmes Middle School (Los Angeles Unified School District, Northridge, Los Angeles County); a STW‒TCS school for six years and previous California GEAR UP School.

9.    Reyburn Intermediate (Clovis Unified School District, Clovis, Fresno County); a STW‒TCS school for three years

In order to be named a STW‒TCS model middle school, school administrators must conduct a self-study evaluation and complete an extensive narrative application. Each site is then reviewed by a team of middle grades experts. In order to retain the designation, each school is re-evaluated every three years.

The nine redesignated schools named today were reviewed last October and are among 36 others selected in previous cycles since 2003 as STW‒TCS designees. All of the schools will be formally recognized at the California Middle Grades Alliance annual luncheon on February 28, 2013, and during the California League of Middle Schools Conference on March 1-3, 2013. Both events will be in Sacramento. At that time, the schools will have an opportunity to showcase their accomplishments and network with other middle grades educators from around the state.

For more information about the Schools to Watch™−Taking Center Stage model school program, visit the California Department of Education Web site at California Schools to Watch — Taking Center Stage . Schools to Watch™−Taking Center Stage is a partner of California GEAR UP. 

Last Minute ‘Cliff’ Deal Avoids Education Cuts

In a late night vote Tuesday, Congress averted the deep, automatic spending cuts set to affect a wide range of federal programs, including many important to higher education. The vote to avoid the tax hikes and spending cuts, known together as the “fiscal cliff,” gives lawmakers two months to cut $6 billion from the federal budget and sets up a probable spending showdown later in the year.

The bill averts tax hikes for all but the wealthiest Americans as the Bush-era tax cuts expire. It also puts off sequestration, the across-the-board spending cuts originally scheduled to take place because Congress did not reach a long-term agreement on deficit reduction in 2012. Many programs important to higher education, including federal work-study, the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant and funding for scientific research, as well as other federal education programs such as GEAR UP would have been cut 8.2 percent under sequestration.

The deal also extends the American Opportunity Tax Credit, a partially refundable $2,500 tax credit for college tuition, for five years. The credit was initially part of the 2009 stimulus bill, and Obama promised during the campaign that he would make the tax credit permanent. In an e-mail to Inside Higher Ed on Tuesday, Terry Hartle, senior vice president for government and public affairs at the American Council on Education, called the extension “particularly welcome news.”

The bill also made permanent other tax provisions with implications for higher education, including the student loan interest deduction and tax preferences for Coverdell savings accounts. On spending cuts, many questions remain unanswered. Congress will need to reach an agreement March 1 to cut $6 billion from the budget. Whether those budget cuts will affect programs important to higher education is still unclear.

The March 1 deadline will arrive at roughly the same time as another vote to increase the federal borrowing limit, and when a temporary law funding the federal government expires. Since the Republicans who hold the majority in the House of Representatives remain staunchly opposed to increasing federal spending, another showdown on Capitol Hill before those deadlines arrive is all but guaranteed.

While the Pell Grant program is protected from the sequester, previous agreements to avoid a government shutdown or a default on the federal debt have hit higher education programs hard.

“The good news is that the automatic reductions have been avoided and this is a welcome development for scientific research conducted at universities,” Hartle said. “The bad news is that the uncertainty surrounding the proposed reductions remains and, if you look hard enough, you can see another fiscal cliff in the not-too-distant future.”