GEAR UP Regional Leadership Forums Make Strides


Developed to meet the diverse and complex needs of California GEAR UP middle schools, the 2015 Spring Regional Leadership Events provide a forum for school teams to problem solve together and learn from each other about school practices, challenges and solutions.  The events were designed to build on the progress made at the Fall events and were facilitated by Whole School Services Coaches with content designed to respond to the needs of each unique middle school community in their region. Activities were customized to engage and support participating schools within each region aligned with target areas of growth identified in the School Self Assessment Rubric.

Goals of the Regional Leadership Events:

  • Develop and expand working, cohesive school teams;
  • Share and reflect on leadership and approaches for developing leadership;
  • Network to share smart practices and opportunities for continued regional work;
  • Reflect on progress in building a sustainable college-going culture using the SSAR;
  • Use data to identify and address challenges to access and equity for All students;
  • Develop implementation plans for of GEAR UP partner resources and services;
  • Complete the PDAP and Communication Plan.

Below is the complete regional events report including attendees, content areas, presenters, and locations.

2014 Regional Institutes: 360 participants; 15 counties, 29 school districts, and 1 charter school were served

Title: North State Regional Collaborative                                                           October 15 & 16, 2014
GEAR UP Coach: Brad Trimble                                                                         Number of Participants: 55
Focus: Support and engage students transitioning to high school.
Presenters: Brandon Santiago (YouthSpeaks), Mark Cerutti—Assistant Superintendent (Elk Grove USD).
Region: North State                                                                                           Counties: Tehama and Shasta
Districts: Red Bluff, Antelope Elementary, Happy Valley Union Elementary, Richfield Elementary, and Gateway.

Title: 2014 Bay Area Regional Learning Institute                                             October 7 & 8, 2014
GEAR UP Coach: Michele Molitor                                                                    Number of Participants: 60
Focus: Achieving social justice and equity through Common Core strategies to ignite student success.
Tovi C. Scruggs, Principal, San Lorenzo High School, and Alice Kawazoe.
Region: Bay Area                                             Counties: Alameda, San Francisco, Solano, and Contra Costa
Districts: San Lorenzo, San Francisco, Vallejo, and West Contra Costa.

Title: 2014 Southern California Regional Institute                               September 30-October 1, 2014
GEAR UP Coaches: Mary Unverferth and Barbara Sedano                   Number of Participants: 105
Focus: Advancing Equity and Access for ALL Students through High Quality Teaching
Presenters: Robert Kaplinsky (Glenrock Consulting), Bruce Arnold and Mary Sirody (MDTP).
Region: Southern California                                                         Counties: San Bernardino and Los Angeles
Districts: Long Beach, Los Angeles, Mountain View, Palmdale, Rialto, San Gabriel, Baldwin Park, San Bernardino, Hacienda La Puente; Charter: The Accelerated School.

Title: 2014 Riverside Regional, GEAR UP Round-Up                                                September 30, 2014

GEAR UP Coach: Jon Sides                                                                                   Number of Participants: 55
Focus: GEAR UP Leadership Team progress & connecting with the School Self-Assessment Rubric (SSAR).
Presenters: Jon Sides
Region: Riverside                                                               Counties: Riverside, Los Angeles, San Bernardino
Districts: Moreno Valley, Azusa, Los Angeles, and Upland.

Title: Central Valley Regional Institute 2014                                                                    October 1, 2014
GEAR UP Coach: Martin De Mucha Flores                                                     Number of Participants: 45
Focus: Developing the “Why?” in Leadership and Cohesive Teams to influence school change.
Presenters: Encarnacion Ruiz—Director of Admissions (UC Merced); Raul Moreno—Coordinator (CSU Fresno, University Migrant Services), Sharon Twitty, Robyn Fisher, & Martin De Mucha Flores.
Region: Central Valley                                                                       Counties: Fresno, Stanislaus, and Tulare
Districts: Caruthers, Empire Union, Parlier, Pleasant View, and Raisin City Elementary.  

Title: ELA Differentiated Instruction                                                                                October 15, 2014
GEAR UP Coach: Frank Holmes                                                                         Number of Participants: 40
Focus: Strategies in English — Differentiated instruction in middle school Language Arts.
Presenters: Lynne Lertzman (the College Board).
Region: San Diego                                                                                                   County: San Diego County
Districts: Oceanside and San Diego County.

2015 Regional Forums: 318 participants; 12 counties, 21 school districts, and 1 charter school were served

Title: Southern California Regional                                                                                        March 6, 2015
GEAR UP Coaches: Mary Unverferth, Barbara Sedano & Frank Holmes        Number of Participants: 132
Focus: Engaging GEAR UP Schools in their continued work of achieving the conditions on the SSAR.
Presenters: James Kass (YouthSpeaks), Carole Gallagher (WestEd), Julie Mendoza (CAIC), and ScholarShare.
Regions: Southern California & San Diego   Counties: San Bernardino and Los Angeles, San Diego County
Districts: Long Beach, Los Angeles, Mountain View, Palmdale, Rialto, San Gabriel, Baldwin Park, San Bernardino, Hacienda La Puente, Oceanside and San Diego County.

Title: 2015 Bay Area Learning Forum                                                                                    April 15, 2015
GEAR UP Coach: Michele Molitor                                                                    Number of Participants: 66
Enhancing student engagement and building community.
Presenters: Vicki Rice, Cloteal Thrower-Herron, Carlene Davis (CEP), Mildred Gains & Joe Lara (PIQE), Patrice Hill (YouthSpeaks), Tyrone Weaver (Samuel Jackman Middle School), ScholarShare.
Region: Bay Area                                             Counties: Alameda, San Francisco, Solano, and Contra Costa
Districts: San Lorenzo, San Francisco, Vallejo, and West Contra Costa.

Title: Elk Grove/Sacramento Regional Leadership Forum                                              March 25, 2015
GEAR UP Coach: Jill Campbell                                                                          Number of Participants: 60
Focus: The purpose and value of building strong community for all students.
Presenters: Kadhir Rajagopal (Grant Union High School), Jay King, Tyrone Weaver (Samuel Jackman Middle School), Alice Kawazoe, and ScholarShare.
Region: Elk Grove/Sacramento                                                                  Counties: Sacramento and Amador
Districts: Elk Grove and Twin Rivers.

Title: GEAR UP Spring Symposium                                                                                 _____May 15, 2015
GEAR UP Coach: Jon Sides                                                                                 Number of Participants: 60
Focus: Foster care system—resources and tools to support foster youth in Riverside County.
Presenters: Tamera Trotter (Child Protective Services), Alyssa Heckmann (Guardian Scholars, UCR), Christopher Dech (Advisor Student Support, Moreno Valley College), Julie Orozco (EAOP, Cal State San Bernardino), Bruce Petersen (Riverside County, Office of Education & Student Programs) and Cedric De Visser (Upland Unified Child Welfare and Former Principal at Upland Junior High School).
Region: Riverside                                                         Counties: Riverside, Los Angeles, and San Bernardino
Districts: Moreno Valley, Azusa, Los Angeles, and Upland.

Big takeaways: The exchange of ideas, events, projects, etc. as a result of the “reflecting on the past” exercise has been mentioned a number of times.  One (GEAR UP) site contact returned to school and, using her notes, immediately drafted a memo of implementation listing ideas to share with the rest of her staff.  The group-alike breakout sessions gave teachers, administrators, counselors and out of classroom advisers a chance to share job specific experiences in building a college-going culture.  The regional event provided an opportunity for participants to work collaboratively and function as a learning community.

 Jon Sides-California GEAR UP School Services Coach


The mission of California GEAR UP is to develop and sustain the organizational capacity of middle schools to prepare all students for high school and higher education through a statewide network of support for adults who influence middle school students, specifically their counselors, faculty, school leaders and families. As a result of this expanded capacity, a higher proportion of students, particularly from backgrounds and communities that have not historically pursued a college education, will enroll and succeed in higher education. California GEAR UP is a program of the University of California Office of The President Education Partnerships department and has served whole school communities across the state since 1999.

CALPADS Data Reveals Poor Results for Students of Color

Today’s release by the California Department of Education (CDE) of the state’s graduation and dropout rates has good news and bad news. The bad news is clear: The data show that California students, particularly low-income students, students of color, and other high-need populations, graduate from high school at alarmingly low rates. The good news is that for the first time, the graduation and dropout rates are accurate, transparent, and are no longer estimates, thanks to the California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System, or CALPADS.

This year’s data tell us even more about student performance. The data show that three out of four (74%) of our state’s students are graduating from high school in four years, and that 18% drop out. Sadly, the news is far worse for the state’s African-American and Latino students, who graduate from high school at abysmally low rates—59% and 68%, respectively. Nearly one out of three (30%) African-American students and nearly one quarter (23%) of Latino students drop out. We also now know that 68% of low-income students, 57% of students with disabilities, and 56% of English learner students graduate in four years.

Given that students of color currently represent the majority of students in California and will overwhelmingly comprise our future workforce, the gaps in high school success between these students and their peers should raise serious concerns for community members, educators, and policymakers. Education outcomes for students of color, students with disabilities, low-income students, and English learners, whose needs and potential are often overlooked, are particularly disturbing when compared with the graduation rates of their more advantaged peers. For example, California’s white students graduate at a rate of 83% and Asian students at a rate of 89%. These students’ dropout rates stand at 12% and 8%, respectively.

“Before we had longitudinal data, state leaders based these numbers on a ‘best guess’ calculation,” said Arun Ramanathan, Executive Director of The Education Trust—West, a statewide education advocacy organization. “With CALPADS now up and running, California’s leaders can no longer ‘pass the buck’ for the state’s high dropout rate by questioning the accuracy of the data. We need them to immediately enact policy reforms that will dramatically improve graduation rates for all students.”

California GEAR UP serves the populations of students most in need and identified as underperforming with these data, and our numbers are promising. California GEAR UP Students showed:

  • Significant increases in the proportion of students scoring Proficient or Advanced on the California Standards Test in 8th Grade Algebra, Geometry, English/Language Arts, Science, and History (55%, 28%, 49%, 69%, and 93% respectively).
  • The proportion of students at GEAR UP schools scoring Proficient or Advanced on the Adequate Yearly Progress measure in mathematics increased by 27 percent; the statewide increase during that time was 15 percent.
  • Significant increases in the proportion of cohort students in the 11th grade scoring Proficient or Advanced on the California Standards Test in English/Language Arts, Algebra 2, Geometry, and Chemistry above the previous class of eleventh graders (16.5%, 100%, 12.5%, and 22.6% respectively)
  • Valley High School in Elk Grove, CA, a California GEAR UP school, graduated 94% of their senior class (the GEAR UP cohort) and received their diplomas.

More information on the Impact of California GEAR UP can be found on our website HERE.

How are you addressing the needs of students identified in this article?

Valley High-GEAR UP Graduates 94 Percent of Seniors

Valley High School in Elk Grove, CA, a California GEAR UP school, celebrated last night as 94% of their senior class (the GEAR UP cohort) walked across the stage and received their diplomas. The atmosphere in the room was electric, as the seniors, their families, and school staff enjoyed a near perfect graduation rate.

The California GEAR UP-Valley High School model focuses on a cohort of low-income students who began in Grade 7 at Jackman Middle School in 2005-2006 and who matriculated to Valley High School in 2007-2008. For 2009-10, services for the cohort of 11th graders expanded to include support for AVID classes, College Fairs,  College and Career Technical school visits, College Awareness classes and Leadership Skills Initiative curriculum specific to the African-American male students in the cohort.  With a continued focus on developing the college-going culture throughout the school community, GEAR UP has been able to reach the entire school, not just the students within the cohort.

Additional results:

  • Valley is the Number 1 (non charter) in Similar Schools and demographics in California.
  • Of 100 Similar Schools in California, Valley scored a perfect 10. They are the only non-charter to do so!
  • Valley had the highest API score of any non-charter school and had the 8th highest API overall.

The effects of GEAR UP at Valley could not be more clear. A recent survey of seniors at valley indicated more than 36% were planning to attend 4 year colleges, while 60% planned to attend two year schools. With 89% of students responding, the whopping 96% of seniors planning to continue their education after high school is powerful evidence that GEAR UP works.

Share in the excitement by checking out the Valley High School Graduation photo album on our Facebook page.