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Innovative UC Santa Cruz Programs a Model for State B Y S T E V E N C O H E N

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or the past three summers, 40 promising high school students from Compton have boarded a bus in Los Angeles and embarked on an inspiring two-week journey to several UC campuses and important points of interest in between.

The Magical School Bus Ride includes eye-opening visits to marine sanctuaries, research labs and kayaking hot spots, so the annual stop at the UC Santa Cruz Educational Partnership Center (EPC) is not likely to generate postcards home. But once inside the modern brown building, the students discover that their assignment — to meet and interview EPC staff members — is a breeze, because unlike other UC campuses, UCSC has brought all its educational outreach programs, from EAOP to the California Reading and Literature Project, under the same roof. Over the course of their interviews, many of the students learn that UC Santa Cruz is the breeding ground for some of the most innovative and successful UC outreach programs, including the one they’re in. The Magical School Bus Ride, UC Gateways, UC College Prep Initiative, SAAGE, Kids Around the University and Dual Admissions all got their start at UC Santa Cruz. “UCSC’s innovations have resulted from the support of very creative leadership on 16 U C O U T L O O K

TARMO HANNULA / REGISTER - PAJARONIAN

POWER the campus,” says EPC Director Carrol Moran. “Chancellor [M.R.C.] Greenwood has a clear understanding of the campus’ role in outreach. Vice Chancellor [Francisco] Hernandez has a long history and depth of experience in outreach and he along with our entrepreneurial Associate Vice Chancellor J. Michael Thompson have helped EPC build an incredibly dynamic staff who know how to take good ideas and put them to into action.” For example, in 1999, under Thompson’s direction, UCSC took the lead to create the innovative Web-based UC Gateways project for all UC campuses. The UC Gateways program was selected for the 2001 IBM “Best Practice Partners in Student Services” for its innovations in educational software. UC Gateways provides current UC-eligibility information, the ability to maintain extensive academic profiles on students, and access to schoolto-career information, activities and services for all California high school students enrolled in UC outreach programs.

“Very often we will identify a local challenge or barrier to college for students in the local communities they serve and draw from widely accepted practices to create a solution,” says Hernandez. “But when there is no previously tested road map to a solution, we will define our challenge and innovate a solution.”

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he road to EPC was paved beginning in 1995, when, at the suggestion of a local school superintendent, then-Chancellor Karl Pister formed the Monterey Bay Educational Consortium (MBEC) to devise a strategic plan with surrounding communities to increase college-going rates. Two years later, the Chancellor’s Educational Partnership Advisory Council (CEPAC) was formed as the campus organizing body for outreach. CEPAC brought together all campus departments, solidifying support for outreach across the campus. CEPAC created the Educational Partnership Center to organize all

UCSC outreach efforts under one roof. CEPAC and MBEC agreed the universityschool collaborations should focus on long-term systemic solutions, targeting outreach not only to high school students but to elementary and middle school students as well. This approach is influenced in part by UCSC psychology professor Catherine Cooper, whose research shows that the earlier students are exposed to the idea of going to college, the more likely they will someday attend one. In 1998, UCSC received its first round of funding for outreach and EPC was poised to begin its groundbreaking work. The largest outreach programs, including the long-standing EAOP and MESA programs, were brought together under the EPC. The UC Santa Cruz Community College Regional Council was formed to provide policy support to the new Transfer Partnerships Program created under the EPC. One of the first policy proposals from the council was the development of the Dual Admissions Program (DAP), which

Top: Dominguez High students Jordae McDavid, left, and Precious Holloway, participants in the Magical School Bus Ride, stop at the Azvedo Ranch in Watsonville. Opposite page: high school students in EAOP’s Summer Youth Leadership Conference.

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eedback from partners has encouraged EPC to redefine its delivery of services to be offered by region rather than by program. In EPC’s new model, there is one UCSC contact per school. “Our school partners clearly know who to approach about all contact with UCSC,” says Moran. “We’ve really streamlined the process to the benefit of both EPC and our partners.”

When there is no previously tested road map to a solution, we will define our challenge and innovate a solution.

New Transfer Path to UCSC

Karina Hernandez had the grades to attend college straight out of high school, but she was sidetracked during her senior year when she gave birth to a baby girl. Now, two years after graduating from high school, she is well on her way to making her college dreams come true at UC Santa Cruz. Hernandez, a student at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, enrolled last fall in the UC Santa Cruz Dual Admissions Program. Conceived in collaboration with the presidents of 13 area community colleges, the two-year-old program is a model for the UC systemwide DAP, which is slated for implementation in 2004 if funding becomes available.

The Santa Cruz program provides intensive support to new community college students in preparation for transfer to UCSC. Representatives from UC Santa Cruz and community college transfer centers provide academic advising, application and financial aid workshops, campus visits, student panel presentations and mentoring. Upon completion of a specific set of transferable courses and 60 UC-transferable semester units with a cumulative GPA of 2.8 or higher, participants are guaranteed a spot at UC Santa Cruz. Hernandez, who maintains a 3.65 GPA and hopes to raise it by the time she transfers to UCSC, credits DAP with preparing her to transfer to a David Kamimoto directs UCSC’s Transfer Partnership and Dual Admissions programs.

four-year college and solidifying her career and educational goals. “I knew that I was interested in eventually working in the financial sector — possibly as a financial analyst — but I didn’t know how to get there,” says Hernandez, who plans to major in economics at UCSC. “From my Dual Admissions representative and my counselor at the transfer center, I’ve signed up for economics and accounting classes and I’m acing them.” DAP has opened new doors to the campus for 133 area community college students like Hernandez. Many current participants — about 85 percent of whom are from underrepresented groups — will enter UCSC as juniors in Fall 2002. “We want students to know that they have a place at UC Santa Cruz even if they are not admissible directly out of high school,” says Associate Vice Chancellor Thompson. “The program increases opportunities for all students seeking higher education and also helps the campus reach its continuing goal to boost minority enrollment.”

SAAGE: Putting High

School Students on College Track

Would you expect your average high school sophomore to recite their “a-g” course requirements in their sleep? “Of course not,” exclaims Stephen Mello, policy analyst at the UC Santa Cruz Educational Partnership Center, “and that’s sad because it’s important information for that population to have.” Mello carefully considered the complexity of UC’s “a-g” requirements as well as something he

read in the 1996 California Postsecondary Education Commission eligibility study: “Across all ethnic and income groups, the most common cause of ineligibility was missing one or more of the required courses.” When Mello recognized the missing link, he figured, “if we can reach those students who are close, we can really make a difference.” So in August 1998, he set out to study the percentages of sophomores who were just a few courses shy of being on track for UC eligibility at five EPC partnership schools. In his first analysis, he found that the high school students fell into three groups: (1) those on track for college; (2) those within 1–5 courses of being on track; and (3) those who were no longer potential candidates for UC or CSU directly out of high school, because they did not have enough time before graduation to make up the number of courses they lacked. “We decided to refer the first group to our admissions outreach staff and the third group to community college outreach,” says Mello. For the second group, EPC created the SAAGE (Students Achieving A-G Expectations) program to provide extra guidance to help students get to college. They also secured a California Academic Improvement and Achievement Act grant to support a large portion of the funding for the $5 million, five-year pilot program. SAAGE focuses on high school sophomores based on the assumption that they still have time to improve their academic standing before high school graduation. But once in the program, juniors and seniors are still monitored to ensure they continue to

ROBERT STAHL

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Foothill College student Karina Hernandez, with daughter Adia, credits the Dual Admissions Program with preparing her transfer to UC Santa Cruz.

Dual Admissions:

JENNIFER SAUER

EPC now starts and ends with an annual evaluation of the specific needs of each school partner, using data to inform the process. Together, EPC and its partners develop measurable goals to help track their progress. While it is still too early for complete data on newer EPC initiatives such as SAAGE and Dual Admissions, general indicators point to significant successes across established EPC programs. These include improved scores on standardized tests such as the SAT 9, more transfers to UC campuses from students in UCSC’s Regional Council community colleges and dramatic improvements in students’ knowledge of how to apply to and prepare for college. The Magical School Bus Ride is no exception. A study in May found that 83 percent of the participants who graduated applied and were accepted to college. Many, like UC Santa Cruz freshman Ana Olazava and UC Santa Barbara sophomore Melissa Ureña, are now excelling at the University of California. Moran says that these indicators as well as innovative and successful EPC programs demonstrate that EPC is fulfilling its mission to “build college-bound communities” among students at all grade levels. Her optimistic outlook is shared by EPC’s school partners as well as interested outside observers such as State Superintendent of Public Instruction Delaine Eastin.

“It’s a very comprehensive, connected program together with their elementary, middle and high schools,” says Eastin, a UC Regent. “I think it’s really a model for the whole state.” On the following pages, three of EPC’s model programs — Kids Around the University, SAAGE and Dual Admissions — are profiled.

JENNIFER SAUER

guarantees admission at UC Santa Cruz to community college students from 13 regional colleges who successfully complete a two-year series of UC-transferable courses (see profile, this page). By 2000, EPC had grown by leaps and bounds to serve more than 15,000 students on California’s central coast. In 2001, leveraging funds from UCOP, the Center added federal and state funding for a variety of new programs such as GEAR UP and SAAGE (see profile, page 19).

Bert Post helped design the SAAGE program and start it at North Monterey County High School in 1999.

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progress toward graduation and college. “We choose students who can make it given the right guidance,” says Bert Post, director of program evaluation at North Monterey County School District. According to Post, who was a key partner in the design of SAAGE and helped implement the program at North Monterey County High School in 1999, “The transition from 10th to 11th grades is when students make the choice: ‘Am I going to go to college or not?’ ”

ROBERT STAHL

Julian Velarde, left, offers SAAGE advice to high school student Esteban Ayala, a recent immigrant from Mexico, who dreams of majoring in math at UC Santa Cruz.

Post also started the college conference component of SAAGE, which is scheduled during the week before sophomores register for their junioryear classes. When they enter that program, the newly identified SAAGE participants and their parents are introduced to the program’s services during daylong conferences. They also receive intensive training on how to get on track for college, including fulfilling the “a-g” requirements. Each student then prepares an individual academic

If we can reach those students who are close, we can really make a difference. school plan. Students analyze their transcripts with the help of SAAGE advocates and see what courses they need to stay on track. SAAGE provides a full-time, on-site college advocate at each of the five schools it serves to give participants extra guidance and support. The advocates are UC Santa Cruz graduates and come from similar backgrounds to the students they serve. They coordinate the college-bound resources on the high school campus to ensure that SAAGE students take the courses needed for college eligibility. Each advocate serves between 60-75 participants at their schools. About 70 percent are Latino and the remainder, white. “With the college advocates staffed full time 20 U C O U T L O O K

on the school grounds, the school has the power to follow-up on the commitments the SAAGE students make at the conferences,” says Post. According to Julian Velarde, an EPC college advocate for North Monterey County High School, working with students is a sequential process that “begins with setting academic commitments and goals at the conference, then academic planning so they’re taking the right courses, then counseling and finally SATs/ACTs and applications.” This past summer, SAAGE also teamed with EAOP, AVID and MESA to pilot a mathematics program for students going into ninth grade that helped prepare 40 students who had previously failed their first year of algebra to succeed and move on to geometry.

Kids Around the University: They Do It Their Way Universities are big schools. In college you have to study hard. That means no goofing around. If no one in your family went to a college or university before you that does not mean that you should not go to one. When area school children wrote these impressions of UC Santa Cruz, they had no idea that their words would some day reach thousands of students locally and across the state. This UCSC innovation was the brainchild of area third- and fourth-graders who noticed in 1996 that there was no book about college that was appropriate to their grade level. For two years, students at Aromas School in Monterey County researched and wrote a bilingual book about college life at UCSC. The book’s content is based largely on dozens of interviews the students conducted with students, faculty and staff at UC Santa Cruz and Cabrillo College in Aptos. Called Kids Around the University (KATU), UCSC publishes and distributes the book to thousands of elementary students, teachers and schools around the state. For Santa Cruz and its partners,

UCSC Chancellor M.R.C. Greenwood enjoys being just another kid around the university.

the book represents a powerful outreach tool that exposes young schoolchildren to the academic and social value of attending college — and it gives kids hands-on information about how to get there. “These kids really captured the essence of university life,” says UCSC Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Hernandez, who was profiled in the book and whose experience includes 10 years of teaching. “They were able to distill the activities and value of a university, and they conveyed it in their own powerful words.” According to Hernandez, “Teachers and educational professionals say there’s nothing like it. For some students, this book lights a candle they didn’t even know existed.” The young authors’ dedicated teachers at Aromas School — Katy Stonebloom and Linda McCue, both graduates of UCSC — saw the project from conception through distribution. The Monterey Bay Educational Consortium and the Educational Partnership Center took on the program’s distribution and administration. An accompanying curriculum guide was designed by area educational experts to inspire teachers around the state to help their students explore their own local UC campus, private college, community college or state university. New spinoffs keep popping up, the most popular of which is the Kids on Campus program that brings more than 4,000 elementary students to the UCSC campus every year. “The book project has been successful beyond our wildest expectations,” says Stonebloom. EPC Director Moran says the center strongly encourages students, teachers and administrators

to replicate the book project in their own communities. And the project has often taken on a life of its own, as it has locally around the Monterey Bay Area and as part of statewide programs. Using KATU as its model, the Monterey Bay Regional School-to-Career Partnership created the new Kids Around the Workplace project, which links students and teachers with local businesses to deconstruct the workplace. Bilingual books describing workplaces and careers were created based on visits to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Indian Motorcycles, and Graniterock Construction. Curriculum guides and lessons for each grade cluster accompany the books and will be distributed statewide this year. The new UC Merced campus uses the Kids Around the University book and curriculum as one of its most prominent outreach tools. Even the San Diego County Office of Education has gotten into the act. They used the KATU program as a guide to create their college-awareness curriculum, called College Is In My Future. “Research shows that these types of early academic outreach efforts can make all the difference,” says Hernandez. “We want to share Kids Around the University with any student or teacher who is interested.” •

Top: A UCSC undergraduate tour guide with visiting middle school students. Opposite left: Aromas School students wrote their impressions of college in KATU.

Laurel Perotti, EPC’s publications and grants coordinator, contributed to this article. D ecember 2001

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