Valley High School to Receive Statewide Civic Learning Award

For Immediate Release:                                                                                                                                                                                      

April 30, 2013

Valley High School selected to receive statewide civic learning award

Valley High School will receive the California Department of Education’s Civic Learning Awards Program Award of Merit from the Honorable Stacy Boulware Eurie, Sacramento County Superior Court Judge, in a special awards ceremony at 10 a.m. on Friday, May 3.  This program celebrates successful efforts to engage California public high school students in civic learning and spotlights replicable models for other schools to follow.

The awards ceremony will also feature remarks from Elk Grove Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Steven M. Ladd and EGUSD Board President Chet Madison Sr., as well as presentations from Valley’s Associated Student Body (ASB), Health TECH Academy and Social Sciences Department.

 “Civic learning is at the cornerstone of our society – one in which our students here at Valley are proud to serve,” said Chelsea Bowler-Shelton, principal at Valley.  “The Civic Learning Award shines a light on the students and teachers of Valley’s Health TECH Academy, Associated Student Body and Social Science Department who believe that giving back to their communities prepares students for civic engagement, college and career opportunities.”

To be considered for the award, schools must describe their civic learning practices and programs, with an emphasis on those that incorporate research-based proven practices in civic education.  A panel of experts assesses the applications according to both depth and breadth.

Valley was selected for the Award of Merit for their work with their ASB program, Regional Summer Academy for the Arts and Sciences, Health TECH Academy and Social Sciences Department.  ASB students are involved in numerous civic-minded activities, including School Site Council, Superintendent’s Student Advisory Committee, blood drives and homeless outreach.  The Valley Regional Summer Academy of the Arts and Sciences is a week-long summer program planned and run by ASB students for fifth and sixth grade students.  The Health TECH Academy prepares students for careers in the health field and has forged a partnership with Kaiser Permanente to create the Cultural Awareness and Community Health Education Project (CACHE).  The Health TECH Academy also holds an annual Health and Fitness Expo on campus.  This event draws 50-60 outside vendors to the Valley campus to inform students, staff and community members about the importance of staying healthy and fit.

The Social Sciences Department, in particular, has posted impressive gains.  Through creative ways to bring history to life for students – such as a living history museum and debating as Roman senators while wearing togas – Valley students have made significant improvements in their social science test scores.  Over the past eight years, the number of students scoring proficient and advanced on the U.S. History CST has increased by 47 percent and World History CST scores have nearly tripled.

Click here for more information about the Civic Learning Awards Program.

WHO:              The Honorable Stacy Boulware Eurie – Sacramento County Superior Court Judge; EGUSD Superintendent Dr. Steven M. Ladd; EGUSD Board President Chet Madison, Sr.; Valley High School students, staff and administrators

WHAT:            An awards ceremony honoring Valley High School for receiving the Award of Merit from the California Department of Education’s Civic Learning Awards Program

WHEN:              May 3, 2013

10 a.m. to 11 a.m

WHERE:          Valley High School

6300 Ehrhardt Avenue

Sacramento, CA 95823



About the Elk Grove Unified School District

Since unification in 1959, the Elk Grove Unified School District has provided a learning community that challenges all students to realize their greatest potential.  With more than 61,000 students, Elk Grove Unified is the largest school district in Northern California and the fifth largest in California.  Elk Grove Unified covers 320 square miles and serves students in the cities of Sacramento, Elk Grove, Rancho Cordova, as well unincorporated areas of Sacramento County.  From elementary school to high school, the emphasis is on preparing students to be successful in college and their chosen careers.  Teachers and staff focus on rigorous academic skills and lessons that prepare students for the 21st century workforce and global economy.  Elk Grove Unified has been recognized both statewide and nationally for innovation in professional development as well as career technical education.  For more information about the Elk Grove Unified School District, please visit and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

About California GEAR UP and Elk Grove

Elk Grove Unified School District has been a California GEAR UP Partner since 2006 and is currently part of our Bridge Project, a model project that is characterized by collaboration, student progress tracking, and data sharing among a family of schools across educational levels in Elk Grove for the purpose of preparing all students in the cohort for college.

California Proudly Hosts 2013 GEAR UP National Conference

The 2013 GEAR UP National Conference will be in San Francisco this year, and we are excited to share conference information and registration. This national convening of GEAR UP professionals, parents, students, policymakers, and community partners is coordinated by the National Council for Community and Education Partnerships (NCCEP) and planned in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Education. The purpose of this conference is to highlight the importance of education/community partnerships and the accomplishments of the Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP). This conference also serves to facilitate the forging of new alliances among faculty, to help attendees learn about other federal and foundation-sponsored college awareness efforts, to learn about other academic and student support programs, and to find new ways to engage local communities, businesses and professional associations in the work of GEAR UP partnerships. The conference is especially relevant to education practitioners, business leaders and policymakers who wish to learn more about creating and sustaining education collaboratives that can help improve public education and promote student academic achievement.

Roll Call of the GEAR UP States

The Roll Call of the GEAR UP States is a much-anticipated tradition at the Conference. Each state is called, celebrated, and cheered by the audience as a way to welcome all participants to an exciting few days of learning and sharing.

Concurrent Sessions

The conference program includes concurrent sessions focused on impacting middle school and high school students, their families, faculty and administrators, student services and college access professionals, program evaluators, parent involvement coordinators, business and community partners, and education policymakers. Sessions will include panels of experts, researchers, practitioners, how-to presentations, research presentations, and descriptions of the most effective GEAR UP practices. These sessions will present proven models and promising practices.

Plenary Sessions

Plenary sessions serve as the core of the conference curriculum and are designed to provide the context for concurrent session dialogues. Plenary sessions will feature nationally recognized individuals in the field of education and workforce development, as well as educational policymakers, political appointees, congressional staff, business leaders, and others who champion the cause of improving public education and making postsecondary education more accessible to underrepresented communities.

2013 NCCEP/GEAR UP Youth Congress
Sponsored by Texas Instruments

NCCEP’s Youth Congress is a youth leadership program that implements a student-focused curriculum, blending leadership development with life skills and strategies for increased learning. The Youth Congress is part of NCCEP’s Annual Conference being held this year in San Francisco from July 14 – 17, 2013.
GEAR UP youth who participate in the Youth Congress will have the opportunity to experience a professional conference while interacting and learning with other students from around the country. The students will learn strategies for increasing learning capacity, as well as relationship and communication skill-building. They will also experience leadership skill development, while strengthening their confidence to effectively tell their story.
GEAR UP Programs that wish to register students to participate in the 2013 Youth Congress must first register the student as part of the regular NCCEP Annual Conference registration. In order to be fully registered, the GEAR UP Program Director (or designee) must coordinate the completion of the necessary permission forms and guidelines for youth to participate. These forms can be completed and submitted prior to registration, or you can find a link to the forms as part of the registration.

For any questions or to learn more contact NCCEP’s Director of National Programs,
Click Here to download the 2013 form.

Post-Conference Events

NCCEP Evaluators’ Institute

Evaluators’ Institute 101 – The Basics of GEAR UP Evaluation

Wednesday, July 17 • 1:30 PM – 5:30 PM

Session Description: Evaluation has always been a necessary component of administrating a GEAR UP grant. While we often think of the U.S. Department of Education’s Annual Performance Report (APR) when it comes to evaluating GEAR UP, it is important to realize that this tool alone does not provide the depth and breadth needed to adequately evaluate individual GEAR UP programs or entire GEAR UP partnerships. Other evaluation is needed to continually improve our work and demonstrate the effectiveness of the GEAR UP program.
This workshop will provide participants with:
• An understanding of the GEAR UP Annual Performance Report (APR) and how to conduct effective program evaluation beyond the APR.
• An understanding of the types of program evaluations their GEAR UP grant should be undertaking.
• Tips for negotiating relationships with other GEAR UP program and institutional staff.
• An opportunity to interact with and learn from experienced GEAR UP evaluators.
• Materials and suggested topical resources for further exploration following the Institute.
Facilitated by GEAR UP evaluators, this session will provide new GEAR UP evaluators with a foundation for their critical evaluation work. Materials will be provided.

Who Should Attend? Evaluators new to the field or new to GEAR UP are encouraged to attend this session. A basic understanding of GEAR UP and evaluation methods is desirable, but not required.

Evaluators’ Institute 201 – An Introduction to Quantitative and Qualitative Analyses for GEAR UP Evaluators 
Wednesday, July 17 • 1:30 PM – 5:30 PM

Session Description: GEAR UP evaluation activities hold much promise to be more than a simple exercise of collecting and reporting APR data. However, once you have the data there are so many options for analyzing and reporting. Join seasoned GEAR UP evaluators and analysts to learn about specific quantitative and qualitative methodologies for analyzing GEAR UP data to answer some questions about your program.
Through the sharing of analytical knowledge by the GEAR UP evaluator community, this workshop will provide participants with:

Evaluators’ Institute 301 – Creating Comparison Groups through Propensity Score Matching 
Wednesday, July 17 • 1:30 PM – 5:30 PM

Session Description: GEAR UP evaluation has become more rigorous over the past few years. Grantees are encouraged to use comparison groups to analyze GEAR UP data. Given the limitations on educational research for experimental studies, Propensity Score Matching is a leading method for creating comparison groups for data analyses. To advance GEAR UP evaluation, GEAR UP grantees must evaluate their data in ways to answer questions about program effectiveness.

U.S. Department of Education GEAR UP Sessions

Annual Performance Report 
Wednesday, July 17 • 10:45 AM – 12:00 PM

The U.S. Department of Education will provide technical assistance designed to assist grantees in completing an Annual Performance Report (APR). Each grantee’s annual and cumulative result has a direct impact on the future of the GEAR UP program as appropriations are connected to program results aggregated from individual project data. This session will review the process for completing the web-based APR.

Documenting the Match
Wednesday, July 17 • 1:30 PM – 3:30 PM

This session is designed for GEAR UP project directors and budget representatives who want to learn about the rules and regulations associated with matching GEAR UP funds. The session will explore allowable, allocable and reasonable matching purchases as well as unallowable costs that grantees should avoid.

Final Performance Report 
Wednesday, July 17 • 3:30 PM – 4:30 PM

The U.S. Department of Education will provide information to grantees regarding the closeout of their grants. This session will include information about how to request a no-cost extension period and detailed information about the Final Performance Report that each grantee is required to file at the end of the grant performance period.

Click HERE or a complete conference description and registration information.


College Week at Everett Middle School is a BIG Success.

We are lucky to have a guest blogger Michele Molitor, California GEAR UP School Services Coach, share with us some of the systemic success at Everett Middle School in San Francisco.

Everett Middle School, located in the Mission District of San Francisco, continues to lead the way as a “School on the Move” for California GEAR UP!  Everett has set some big goals, and has had amazing results, including an increase API of 40 and 54 points over the last two years respectively. (insert dramatic pause here, these are MASSIVE API gains) This spring has been a busy time for them as they have engaged their staff and students in a variety of College Going Culture activities.  Their latest success story was College Week – held March 8th through March 15th.

They had a terrific line up of activities for parents and students alike.  They kicked College Week off on Friday evening with Parent University.  This involved inviting parents, students and community members to attend a dinner and college presentation.  There were a variety of providers that shared information on college going programs and college information, which was relevant in helping their students prepare for college.  The community partners included:

There was so much enthusiasm for all the terrific information being shared, dinner was delayed so everyone could soak it all up! While everyone shared in a meal together, a powerpoint presentation was shared, reviewing the A-G requirements, college entrance requirements, where to go for help and information about the upcoming college week on campus.

Earlier in the day, all students received the “College Making It Happen” booklet along with additional information on college and curriculum from their homeroom teachers on how to find the answers to important college prep questions.

Starting on Monday, there was a series of different activities each day for the students.  They received a Student Passport, which they were to fill out during the week as they attended the different activities. A completely filled out passport earned them an A-G t-shirt given out by SF Promise.

Here is just a snapshot of the fun activities they had for the students:

  • Each day homeroom teachers encouraged students to fill out their passport and learn more about what it takes to go to college, plus they had different college talk points to share with them as well.
  • There was a lunch time “rapper” that talked about college and the A-G requirements
  • Students had a chance to get their faces painted with different school logos and take a picture with their high school graduation year as the backdrop.
  • Students had the opportunity to join different college clubs.
  • There was even a booth there about credit cards, to warn students of the interest rates when they borrow money.
  • They brought in real “live” college students too. Students had to interview them and fill out their college bingo sheet to win prizes.
  • Friday was the big finale with a college debrief in their homeroom, followed by a quick student survey.  The Gear Up leadership team also put on a school wide assembly that included:
    • Review of college week photos
    • A student led video with Q&A about college
    • An A-G powerpoint to continue to engrain these important points for students
    • Raffle winners were announced
    • A “Tell us about your college experience” teacher panel was conducted so students in the audience could ask questions of the five different teachers on the panel.
    • And last but not least, students got to silk screen on their A-G shirts “College is my Hustle” or  “I Hecka Heart College”

Overall, it was a powerful week for teachers and students alike.  Big kudos to the entire GEAR UP leadership team that coordinated all of the efforts and spent 2 months planning all of the activities!

This huge effort was only piece of the puzzle too. Everett has a myriad of other activities going on an any given time to help raise student awareness of what’s needed to go to college, increase parent and community participation and improve student test scores.  It’s no wonder that Everett’s API score increased by 94 points in two years! Under the leadership and direction of Principal Richard Curci, Everett’s faculty and student body continue to raise the bar for success – knowing that when given the information, guidance and support Every Student can have the opportunity to go to college!

If you have questions about Everett’s successful College Week activities, contact:

Tracy Brown-Gallardo

Community Schools Coordinator

Everett Middle School

Partner Spotlight: PIQE’s Maria Elena Meraz

PIQE is one of California GEAR UP‘s long lasting and most trusted partnerships. With our post today we have the pleasure to interview Maria Elena Meraz, Executive Director of PIQE’s Los Angeles regional office. She responsible for program development, quality control, marketing, and training PIQE directors, instructors, coordinators, recruiters, and other personnel. She maintains program supervision, enrollment, attendance, completion, and communication with staff from PIQE school sites.

How did you start working with families and why are you passionate about it?

My work with parents began in 1993 when my son started elementary school. I was new to the country and didn’t know much about how the school system functioned but became involved a parent volunteer. My son has an orthopedic condition and I wanted to make sure he was being accommodated. There, I was also involved with the School Site Council. In addition I helped to organize workshops for parents with special needs. In 1996 I participated in the PIQE program as a parent and instantly fell in love with the program. It gave me the tools and information I needed to ensure my son was on a path to college. Thereafter I became involved with PIQE as a workshop facilitator. I am passionate about this work because I share the same experience as many of the parents we work with. I was once in their shoes, I was intimidated by the system and had very limited English, I am now the proud parent of a college graduate and a testament to the effectiveness of PIQE.

Why do you think it is important to engage families in the education process?

There is no greater love than a parent’s love for their child. Parents want to see their children succeed and they will go above and beyond to make sure they do. However, many parents, particularly those in underserved communities lack the knowledge about academic expectations, college requirements, and resources available to them and their students. It is when parents are empowered with the proper tools and information that we can begin to close the achievement gap.

What was your experience in middle school like and how were you influenced to go to college?

I attended a private middle school in Mexico. I constantly received messages from my parents and family that college was the expectation.

What do you think are some of the most important factors that will contribute to preparation for and student success in college?

I believe that raising expectations is one of the most important factors that will contribute to preparation for and student success in college. When students receive messages from school and from home that college is the standard, particularly during their most formative years, we begin to see changes in student behavior and in their motivation to succeed academically. It is also important that there are services, like the California GEAR UP, in the community to supplement students with resources that parents are not able to provide.

What are some of the most effective ways to get families involved with their school community?

The most effective way for a family to get involved in their school community is by becoming familiar with the school system so that they are comfortable about making contact with teachers and counselors. This will enable them to learn about their child’s math and reading level, ensure that their child is on the right track, and if not to develop a strategy to intervene and make positive steps towards college readiness.

Tell us about some of the  PIQE initiatives  you are most proud of.

PIQE’s partnership with California GEAR UP is one our most important partnerships, it allows us to focus our work at the middle school level. As part of the 6-year initiative, PIQE will be provide to parents the 9-week Parent Engagement in Education Program, the 4-month Follow-Up Program, and the Teacher Workshop. PIQE-LA has worked with over 600 school teachers through the PIQE Teacher Workshop. We are excited to include this as part of the GEAR UP partnership because it allows us to connect parents and teachers so that they are working towards the same goal.

When did you first start working with GEAR UP and why is the work important?

I first met the California GEAR UP team in 2000 at a meeting at Drew Middle School. Our partnership is important because it allows us to focus our work at the middle school level. The middle school level is critical to a student’s academic success. Research shows that planning and college preparation needs to start as early as the 6th grade so that they are ready for A-G coursework in High School.

What is your favorite part of your work?

PIQE is a program that is constantly evolving and growing to better serve the community. I enjoy that every year we see new accomplishments.

Anything else you would like to share with the GEAR UP Community?

Thank you for considering me for the spotlight. California GEAR UP has always been an avid supporter of PIQE, we truly value our partnership and look forward to seeing positive change in our schools.


California GEAR UP works with partnership organizations across the state to achieve the five outcomes at each school listed HERE and HERE (spanish) Partnerships are essential for sustaining school improvement and a college-going culture, and for increasing the opportunities for students to succeed. As a result of participation in the California GEAR UP program, middle schools are expected to take advantage of the resources provided, and utilize other resources available to the school.

For more information on PIQE, please visit their website.

Report Card on Outcomes for Low Income Students Released


Ed TrustWest Releases Third Annual Report Cards Grading the 148 Largest Unified Districts on Outcomes for Latino, African-American, and Low-income Students

OAKLAND, CA (April 3, 2013) – Today, The Education Trust–West (ETW) releases its third annual District Report Cards, grading and ranking California’s largest unified districts on outcomes for Latino, African-American, and low-income students. Once again, this year’s report cards reveal higher poverty districts that are consistently achieving strong academic results, and graduating high numbers of college-eligible Latino, African-American, and low-income students.

“Just as students receive report cards that measure their performance and progress in school, ETW develops annual report cards that grade California school districts on how well they are educating their Latino, African-American, and low-income students,” said Lindsey Stuart, Data and Policy Analyst at The Education Trust–West.  To create the report cards, ETW uses publicly available data from the California Department of Education to assign “A-F” letter grades and numerical rankings on four key indicators: performance, academic improvement over five years, the size of achievement gaps, and college readiness. Grades on these four indicators are combined into a single overall grade.

In addition, this year’s District Report Cards website contains some exciting new features. The college readiness indicator now includes graduation rates and cohort a-g rates (the percentage of Latino and African-American  ninth-graders who graduate from high school having completed the course sequence necessary to apply to the UC/CSU systems). In addition, we have developed interactive regional maps of district grades and added a section to the website on promising practices in higher poverty, higher performing districts.

“We hope that parents, educators, and community members will use these report cards as a resource to identify districts that are closing achievement gaps and providing greater opportunities for all students to be successful,” said Jeannette LaFors, Director of Equity Initiatives at The Education Trust–West.

This year, the highest overall grade of a B is earned by Baldwin Park Unified (Los Angeles County). In Baldwin Park, low-income students posted five-year gains of 102 API points, far exceeding the average gains of 64 points in other large unified districts across the state. In addition, San Marcos Unified (San Diego County), West Covina Unified (Los Angeles County), and Lake Elsinore Unified (Riverside County) also rank at the top of our rankings. These districts all serve student populations that are over 40 percent low-income, and over 50 percent African-American and/or Latino.

On April 11, The Education Trust–West will host a webinar where district and school leaders from top-performing districts will share the strategies that have contributed to student success.

“Districts with the best outcomes for California’s Latino, African-American, and low-income students don’t always get the recognition they deserve,” said Arun Ramanathan, Executive Director of The Education Trust–West. “We applaud their leaders, teachers, and staff for their hard work and their unwavering commitment to equity and improving student outcomes.”

The report cards are available online at:

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About The Education TrustWest-A California GEAR UP Partner
The Education TrustWest works for the high academic achievement of all students at all levels, pre-k through college. We expose opportunity and achievement gaps that separate students of color and low-income students from other youth, and we identify and advocate for the strategies that will forever close those gaps.

CDE Announces Common Core Standards Showcase

CDE Hosts Showcase to Help Transition Educators to New Standards That Will Give Students a World-Class Education

The California Department of Education (CDE) will hold a one-day showcase Wednesday April 3, 2013 at its headquarters in Sacramento to help transition educators to the new standards.

The new Common Core State Standards in mathematics, English-language arts and literacy in history/social science, science, and technical subjects (California CCSS) will serve as a foundation to remodel the state’s education system. The new Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) will reflect the major advances in science over the past 15 years.

The showcase, presented by the CDE’s Improving Teacher Quality State Agency for Higher Education Program, is free and open to the public. It will feature a number of successful exemplary projects that received federal Title II, Part A grants designed to strengthen educators’ content knowledge and abilities as it relates to California CCSS and the NGSS. Attendees will hear from the showcase presenters about their projects, and then a question-and-answer period will follow each session.

Seating is limited and those who confirmed their attendance in advance will be seated first. The showcase will be recorded for a future podcast. The detailed showcase agenda and descriptions of the Title II, Part A grant recipients’ programs are attached.



Wednesday, April 3, 2013


CDE, 1430 N St., State Board Room 1101, Sacramento

9 a.m.

Welcome and Introductions

9:15 a.m.

CCSS in Mathematics

10:15 a.m.


10:30 a.m.

CCSS in English-Language Acquisition



1:30 p.m.

CCSS in Science
        3 p.m. Closing Remarks

3:15 p.m.


California’s Common Core State Standards provide a practical way to prepare students for the challenges of a constantly changing world by helping them learn step-by-step, real-world problem solving skills they need for college and careers. The new standards keep the best of what the state has, but replaces outdated ways of learning with a clear focus on the key knowledge and skills that students need, and also provides teachers the time to teach them well.

The Next Generation Science Standards will be rich in content and practice, are arranged across disciplines and grades, and clearly articulate the educational content and practices students will need to learn from kindergarten through grade twelve.

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The California Department of Education (CDE) is a state agency led by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson. For more information, please visit or by mobile device at You may also follow Superintendent Torlakson on Twitter at and Facebook at


California Department of Education, Communications Division

1430 N Street, Suite 5602, Sacramento, CA 95814

Main: 916-319-0818; Fax: 916-319-0100

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