California GEAR UP-Valley High School Collaborative

Summer 2009 | | November 19, 2009 at 12:50 pm

The California GEAR UP-Valley High School Collaborative began in 2005-2006 to provide information, resources, and support services for students, families, teachers, counselors, and administrators. While primarily focused on students, the Collaborative also provides services for the total school community.  The Collaborative began at Jackman Middle School with a cohort of seventh grade students.  In 2007-2008, the cohort matriculated to Valley High School as ninth graders.  Both schools are in Sacramento, California and are a part of the Elk Grove Unified School District.

Partners of the Collaborative are: Early Academic Outreach Program/University of California Davis, Healthy Start, AVID, ACT, Inc., Parent Institute for Quality Education (PIQE), R.T. Fisher Educational Enterprises, Inc., and Cosumnes River College.

With the motto, “Valley Culture – All Students Can and WILL Learn”, the California GEAR UP-Valley High School Collaborative has four components:

Student Services

Individual Student Support:
Through individual meetings, each student develops an academic portfolio to monitor their progress, identify areas of need, and discuss college and career options.  Students are encouraged to take advantage of existing resources at the school through counselors, the Career Center, and tutoring.  Moreover, students are eligible to receive a $2,000 Educational Trust Award upon graduation from high school and college enrollment.

GEAR UP provides after-school tutoring for Valley students in the Counseling Center for two hours every day. Tutorial support is designed to respond to student requests.

Advocacy Classes:
Students are offered an integrated curriculum including sessions focused on college awareness and preparation.  These classes offer the opportunity to distribute and collect parent and student surveys that provide critical information for program improvement.

Leadership Skills Initiative

This initiative focuses on Character, Confidence, and Career/College Choices for African-American male students being served by GEAR UP.  Students and their families receive information and academic services to help them become school and community leaders through engagement with their peer group, school counselors, mentors, and leadership coaches.

Family Services

Families of Valley High students participate in a series of Family Workshops, Community School events, Get-The-Word-Out activities, and through a Family Center at the school. Services are provided collaboratively with the Healthy Start program.

Whole School Support

California GEAR UP supports whole school activities including Back-to-School Night, the College and Career Fair, the Bus Tour sponsored by the California State University and AT&T, and the annual Regional Open House.  All students have access to higher education information through the GEAR UP Resources and Materials Clearinghouse and the website at the Career Center.  GEAR UP also supports professional development training opportunities for school personnel.

Laying the Foundation:

Developing a College-Going Culture at Jackman Middle School

Jackman Middle School was a GEAR UP school beginning in 2004-2005, participating in the School-Based Model, which assists staff and families develop a College-Going Culture for all students.  The Leadership Team at Jackman assessed curriculum, academic counseling, and family engagement, in the context of high expectations for all students getting ready for college preparatory courses in high school, and having information about postsecondary education.  Jackman participated through the 2006-2007 school year.  As a result, the following changes occurred school-wide:

  • Students enrolled in advanced courses increased from 25.2% to 35.0%; students taking PreAlgebra, Algebra 1, or Geometry increased from 70.8% to 100%.
  • AVID elective classes increased from 3 to 9; the number of subject classes taught using AVID strategies increased from 5 to 36.
  • Students performing at or above grade level increased from 55.8% to 65.6%.
  • Students
    preparing individual academic plans increase from 76% to 100%; students
    getting college and financial aid information increased from 76% to
  • Students taking the PSAT or EXPLORE tests increase from zero to 100%.
  • Students and families completing the College: Making It Happen workbook increased from zero to 100%.
  • All 7th graders participated in a college fair, and all 8th graders took tours of college campuses.
  • 50 families participated in college information events and 88 parents took a 9 week parent education program.

Transition to Valley High School

During summer 2007, 30 GEAR UP students attended Summer Bridge – High School Preparation Course, taught by Valley High School teachers with the support of GEAR UP staff.  GEAR UP staff participated in the Freshman Night for 9th graders and their parents.  In October, students attended a three-day Breaking Down the Walls workshop as well as received training in using a Planner.  During the fall semester GEAR UP staff provided continuing intervention support for struggling students.  GEAR UP students took a Career Survey in the fall that helped to identify the services that students needed through the GEAR UP Career Center in terms of academic, career, and college advisement.

Results:  Outcomes for Student Achievement

Having experienced the support of a college-going culture at Jackman Middle School, and with the support of the Valley High School and Collaborative staffs, the GEAR UP cohort has achieved academic success beyond the previous year’s cohort of students.  Building on the foundation at Jackman allowed the cohort to enter Valley more prepared than previous cohorts of students, with the high expectations of family and staff to support them. These are the total results for grades 8, 9, and 10:

  • 8% more students in this cohort scored Proficient or Advanced than students in the prior year’s cohort, averaged over all of the California Standards Tests (percent of enrollment increased 18%)
    • English – 29% Proficient or Advance (28% of enrollment) Prior cohort 29% and 28%

    • Algebra 1 – 28% Proficient or Advance (9% of enrollment) Prior cohort 28% and 8%

    • Geometry – 20% Proficient or Advance (3% of enrollment) Prior cohort 15% and 2%

    • History – 33% Proficient or Advance (32% of enrollment) Prior cohort 29% and 19%

    • Science – 32% Proficient or Advance (30% of enrollment) Prior cohort 21% and 20%

  • Many students are on track to meet the A-G requirements for entrance into the University of California or a California State University.  Students must earn a grade of C or higher. Results are through grade 9. Results through grade 10 will be in the on-line version of the 2009 Third Annual Bulletin.
    • 48% of the students have completed one of the four required English courses.
    • 44% have completed Algebra 1, the first of three required mathematics courses*. 14% have       completed Geometry, and 2% have completed Algebra 2, the second and third required courses
    • 21% have completed one of the two required History/Social Science courses
    • 46% have completed one of the two required Laboratory Science courses*
    • 19% have completed one of the two required Foreign Language courses*
    • 2% have completed the one required Visual and Performing Arts course   *the University of California recommends one additional course in each of these subjects
  • A higher percent of the GEAR UP cohort passed the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE) in Grade 10 than the prior year’s cohort.
    • English/Language Arts  75.1% (prior year’s cohort 68.1%)
    • Mathematics 77.5% (prior year’s cohort 73.8%)

Results:  Family and Student Expectations

In 2009, the California GEAR UP – Valley High School Collaborative conducted GEAR UP Family and Student Surveys.  These results are compared to the surveys conducted with the cohort in 2006 at Jackman.  They show increased understanding and higher expectations that this cohort of students will go to college.

  • 71% of the families and 73% of the students believe that the student will complete a 4 year college degree of higher.  In 2006 it was 53% and 67%
  • 70% of families and 65% of students believe that the student will be able to afford to attend college with a combination of family savings and financial aid.  In 2006 it was 76% and 59%.

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