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.

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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

Objectives:

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
www.ousdgearup.com

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

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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

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California GEAR UP Announces 2015 Fall Events

 

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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 castategearup.org

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Becoming a Transformational School Leader

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(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.

 

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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, visitwww.CollegeSavingsPledge.com.

Recently ranked second among all direct-sold 529 plans for three-year performance by www.SavingForCollege.com, 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 www.ScholarShare.com.

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California Braces For Lower Student Test Results

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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.