What an extraordinary kick off to spring 2022 we have seen in the past week.
For the first time in two years, the Central Valley Higher Education Consortium and its partners came together in what one participant described as “a unique space where K-12 educators teamed with up
higher education officials” during our Dual Enrollment Convening March 17 in downtown Fresno.
This convening accomplished many objectives, but one is for certain: we did not let the pandemic of the past two years get us down.
Not only did we reflect on the progress we accomplished via virtual existence the past 24 months but we also presented that story through our newest video premiered at the convening and which we reveal publicly in this issue of our e-newsletter – “Blurring the Lines Between High School and College: Dual Enrollment in the Central Valley.”
This video captures the success story of three Central Valley students who have made the most of the dual enrollment opportunity afforded to them: Nataly Frias of Turlock High School; Isaac Bates of Corcoran High; and Alicia Bias of Washington Union High in partnership with CVHEC members Merced College, College of the Sequoias and Fresno City College respectively. They are representative of the outstanding Central Valley students enrolled in dual enrollment college courses while in high school
It also features the advocacy of three dual enrollment champions: West Hills Community College Chancellor Kristen Clark; Merced College Pres Chris Vitelli; and McKenna Salazar, career engagement specialist for the Tulare County Office of Education – all articulating the value of dual enrollment for both the students and the campuses while helping close the equity gap.
And this was the spirit in force at the convening last week, aptly entitled “Establishing Dual Enrollment Pathways in the Central Valley.”
Nearly 140 educators assembled for three morning panels and three afternoon workshops to address challenges and barriers to dual enrollment success as well as review best practices with an eye on future strategies.
We are grateful to Dr. Mayra A. Lara, associate director of Educator Engagement for The Education Trust-West based in Oakland, for her presentation of her organization’s recent report, “Jumpstart California: A Roadmap for Equitable Dual Enrollment Policy & Practice.” We are happy to have them join us as our newest partners.
Overall, we heard discussion and recommendations for such topics as Advanced Placement v. dual enrollment, weighted GPAs and aligning guided pathways with high school curriculum among other relevant issues.
We plan to have a full report on the convening’s outcomes in April that will lay the groundwork for our task force to continue its trajectory as leaders in dual enrollment.
But perhaps the highlight of the event was the inspiring student panel where the three aforementioned students featured in the video joined us along with a fourth panelist, Arlene Rocha, an alumna of Wonderful Prep Academy and Bakersfield College now completing master’s work at Fresno State and Emerson online.
The students elaborated on their individual dual enrollment experiences before fielding questions from the audience, showing a level of competence and professionalism to marvel. As our student participants, they represented why we do this sometimes overwhelming but satisfying educational work. I’m sure you all came away as satisfied as I was in seeing that our efforts have the concrete results these students demonstrate.
Equally commendable are all 136 convening participants who continued the CVHEC reputation for putting action into words: all the talking, research, and analyses – while important and must continue – is irrelevant if we do not commit and execute meaningful measures as this group has done in recent years and has pledged to continue in the coming months.
Just as important, if not more so, this second convening demonstrated that our dual enrollment practitioners not only develop local solutions for a collaborative regional approach, but we also lead the way in advocating for state-level policy changes and investment for broader, systemic impact.
What the “CV-HEC” am I talking about? As we reviewed at last week’s convening, concrete results that came from our Zoom adventures of the past two years were:
- Improvements in the CCCApply application process to the California Community College system. Our CVDEEP Task Force led the way in a statewide user group with the CCC Chancellor’s Office to redesign the application for student friendliness. While work continues on these improvements, we commend the chancellor’s team for listening to our dual enrollment advocates and acting expeditiously. The task force has established a promising road for solid results.
- The Dual Enrollment Upskilling Teachers Master’s Program that provides access to state funding through the Fresno K-16 Collaborative. This initiative provides funds for high school English and math teachers to earn a master’s degree required for teaching college courses at their high school campus. We were especially pleased to see the examples of the accompanying mentor program in one of the convening panels.
So perhaps the real victory in all this is the undeniable demonstration by members of our CVDEEP Task Force — with CVHEC member community colleges and K-16 partners — rising to the challenges they imposed on themselves at the first convening in 2020; identifying potential solutions; and collaborating relentlessly for these two concrete measures that help expand dual enrollment opportunities in the region.
And all this is only the tip of the iceberg. Wait until you see what we have planned for the upcoming CVHEC Legislative and Policy Summit May 5-6 when a historic occasion is revisited: the presidents and chancellors of the region’s 29 higher ed institutions convening to address issues relevant to pursuing our goal of improving the degree and certificate attainment rate for valley residents.
Nowhere else in the nation does a region’s higher education chief executives convene in the same room for a common cause. Keep an eye out for details in our next newsletter (and be sure to register for the summit by the April 29 deadline).
To all of you partnering with us in these endeavors – thank you. This is not about one organization. It’s about you and your collaborative efforts to serve students. This is YOUR consortium.
I hope you enjoy CVHEC’s new dual enrollment video. We encourage you to use it as you see fit in telling our dual enrollment success stories and advocating for improvements. We look ahead to continuing our partnerships with each and every one of you.