Elk Grove School Board Honors GEAR UP Partnership



Chet Madison-Board Member, Felicia Bessent-Principal of Harris MS, Yuri Penermon-Principal of Rutter MS, Bill Del Bonta-Principal of Harriet Eddy MS, Richard Wal- Principalof Smedburg MS, Mike Anderson-Prinicpal of Jackman MS, and Tina Penna-Associate Superintendent. Director Shelley Davis and Project Manager Crystal Robinson.

On October 15, 2013 the Elk Grove Unified School District School Board recognized the long time partnership between the district and California GEAR UP with a presentation to Director Shelley Davis and Project Manager Crystal Robinson. Here is part of the text from the board resolution:

We continue to be honored to work with EGUSD in this amazing partnership that has endured since 1999. California GEAR UP looks forward to more success in creating a college-going culture throughout Elk Grove and the entire state of California. With partners like this we have no doubt we will succeed.


College Board Partners Wow the Crowd at Leadership Events

college board

 College Board presenters Douglas Waugh, David Jones, and Ana Galindo Shapiro.

This fall we were honored to have College Board, a California GEAR UP strategic partner, provide demonstration lessons at all of our Principal and Leadership Team events that took place across the state. These events focus on the use of our SSAR (school self assessment rubric) to look at school-wide perceptions and provides opportunities to learn about successes and challenges from other school teams. With the looming implementation of Common Core State Standards, schools have requested additional information and support, to which we responded with the College Board CCSS Demonstration Lesson.

One of the presenters, Ana Galindo Shapiro, was kind enough to sit down with us and talk about why she believes in this work so much.

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

I started working with the College Board as an AP US History teacher. I remember attending my first AP Summer Institute, during which we participated in a Socratic Seminar using the Board’s recently revised Equity and Access Statement. I was working with students who broke the mold of what an AP student “looks like” for some. Many were English Learners, read below grade level, or were the first in their families to have their sights set on college- but they were so dedicated to challenging themselves. I knew that I was doing important work by believing in my students and supporting them through really rigorous learning experiences. I’m still passionate about that work today; I just have a different audience!

What do you think the most important thing teachers can be collaborating on right now to prepare for the implementation of common core and associated assessments?

I think teachers have an opportunity through the Common Core to teach students to think critically and creatively, something our state assessments have perhaps geared us away from in the past decade. It is really powerful to think that we’ll have assessments that actually honor students building solid arguments, explaining their reasoning, and focusing on depth over a breadth of topics is really exciting.

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

I was an average student in middle school and high school. My father is an educator, and college was not really optional for me; it was a question of where to go (which was really exciting for both of us to explore). I didn’t really find my thrill of learning until college, when I think I was challenged for the first time. I loved being learning history in a historical place, surrounded by really curious young people.

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

I know that student peer influence is really strong for student success in college. Just like in middle and high school, it is really important for kids to feel connected to their peers and the adults around them. I’ve been reading a lot about growth mindsets and “grit” and how predictive they are to student success, more so than academic or socio-economic factors. That’s inspiring because these are things schools can help to cultivate in young people.

What are some of the most effective ways to create a college-going culture in our school community?

Young people need to “see” themselves going to college. Experiences like college trips, hosted by students who have similar backgrounds, or having tutors on campus that students can relate to is helpful. Adults need to also “see” their students as college bound. This goes beyond speaking it, it requires teachers to understand that there’s a lot of support and sometimes tough love that kids need to make it into and through college. Parents need to “see” their students heading to college by being exposed to college processes and encouraging their children to stick to it when things get difficult.

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

I am most proud of SpringBoard, because ours is a program explicitly designed to support all teachers and students in getting ready for college.

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

I first started working with GEAR UP as a high school principal. Two of our graduating cohorts were supported since 6th grade with additional staff, materials, and experiences. All students should benefit from these additional resources, designed to put them on a solid path to college. Even though two classes had the direct benefit from GEAR UP, the entire school culture was shaped by work.

What is your favorite part of your job?

I love being able to work with educators across school, district, and state lines to learn from their challenges and insights.

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

I really enjoyed our time together and hope we’ll see each other again soon!


Can Schools Equitably Implement Common Core?

ed trust common core brief

(this is a repost from Ed Trust-West)

With Governor Brown’s announcement of an unprecedented $1.25 billion dollars to accelerate Common Core implementation, the Education Trust—West releases a new brief, The One Billion Dollar Question: How Can Districts and Schools Equitably Implement the Common Core? The brief is designed to be an easy-to-use primer for district, charter, county, and community leaders to assess local Common Core implementation efforts based on best practices nationally and in California.

The Common Core State Standards are comprised of rigorous academic standards which can, when implemented with sufficient supports, help us close persistent achievement gaps. All students must have access to the deeper learning expectations and experiences called out in the new standards. However, many students—English learners, students with learning disabilities and students struggling academically—require targeted supports to ensure their success.

The brief opens with a basic needs assessment consisting of a series of questions that school, district, charter, and county leaders can use to determine their readiness for and progress toward effective and equitable Common Core implementation. Then it lays out potential investments schools and districts might make in the three areas (professional development, instructional materials and technology) that can be funded with the $1.25 billion dollars to accelerate equitable Common Core implementation.

In addition to these suggestions, the brief identifies potential pitfalls schools and districts should avoid. For some Local Education Agencies (LEA’s) such as Sacramento City, the extra funding will boost thoughtful implementation efforts already underway. For others, it will jumpstart activity that has yet—but urgently needs—to begin. In either case, the brief is an accessible way for local education and community leaders to determine the strength of their efforts to implement the instructional, technological, and curricular changes necessary to effectively and equitably implement the new Common Core standards and the statewide assessments scheduled for 2014-2015.


Study Tracks Impact of Counseling on Low Income Students



A theme of several studies in the last year has been that there are plenty of academically talented low-income students who for some combination of reasons are not applying to competitive colleges to which they would probably be admitted.

A new study along those lines — this time documenting the impact of intense college counseling — was released Monday by the National Bureau of Economic Research. The study (abstract available here) found that a nonprofit group that focuses on college counseling in Minneapolis-St. Paul had a significant impact in increasing the rate at which low-income students enrolled in four-year colleges, including competitive institutions.

The study was conducted by Christopher Avery of Harvard University — co-author (with Caroline Hoxby of Stanford University) of a study released in December that found that most highly talented, low-income students never apply to a single competitive college. That work has set off widespread discussions about what sort of interventions might make a difference.

Avery’s new study looks at College Possible, a program that provides in-depth college counseling as well as tutoring on the ACT or SAT. Avery was able to study the impact of the program by comparing results on College Possible participants with those who applied to (and were not admitted to) the program despite having slightly better academic preparation.

The study found no statistically significant gains in ACT scores for those who participated in the program. Avery writes, however, that this may understate the impact of the program, because he suspects that some of those who didn’t get into College Possible found test-prep services elsewhere.

But the study found a significant impact on College Possible participants in applying to and enrolling in four-year colleges, and especially to competitive colleges. More than 45 percent of the students in the College Possible program enrolled at a four-year college, while the figure in the control group was 34 percent. And the most popular college among those in the program was Augsburg College, a competitive liberal arts college that did not enroll a single student from the control group (though some would appear to have been academically qualified had they applied).

The findings could be significant in that the earlier Avery-Hoxby study noted that low-income students who enroll in more competitive colleges are more likely to land at institutions with better graduation rates, more financial aid, and more resources to promote their academic success.

Blogged from Inside Higher Ed. Read more: http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2013/10/29/study-tracks-impact-counseling-low-income-students#ixzz2jhjXWEo1
Inside Higher Ed

UC $5 million plan to aid ‘Dreamer’ students

Janet Napolitano

UC president Janet Napolitano indicated she would allocate $5 million in university funds to help the system’s estimated 900 students who entered the country illegally.

The issue of how to treat those who don’t have proper immigration papers is a hot one for Napolitano. Critics contend that, in her previous job as U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security, she oversaw an increase in deportations and they have protested her selection as UC president.

However, Napolitano says that she supports immigration reform with a path to citizenship and adminstered new rules that allow young people who entered the country illegally as children to stay here for at least several years.

In her first major address as head of the system Wednesday, the new UC chief said the so-called Dreamers deserve help to succeed at UC since they are not eligible for federal financial aid. Some of the $5 million also will go to counseling and other services.

Napolitano also singled out undocumented students at UC as deserving of special help.

“These Dreamers, as they are often called, are students who would have benefited from a federal DREAM Act,” Napolitano said. “They are students who deserve the opportunity to succeed and to thrive at UC.”

There are an estimated 900 undocumented students currently enrolled on UC campuses, about 95 percent of them as undergraduates. Because they face many bureaucratic and economic issues that other students do not – and often need help navigating the system – Napolitano said she would set aside $5 million for resources such as trained advisers, student service centers and financial assistance.

“Consider this a down payment – one more piece of evidence of our commitment to all Californians,” Napolitano said. “UC will continue to be a vehicle for social mobility. We teach for California; we research for the world.”

The initiatives will be funded through one-time reserves that the president may allocate at her discretion. No tuition dollars or state funds will be used. “Some of my ideas are even larger in their reach, and will take more time in the greenhouse,” Napolitano said near the end of her remarks. “You’ll hear more about them at the regents meeting in November, and in the months after that.”