About 96 South Valley high school teachers will get the opportunity to earn a master’s degree that achieves state qualifications for teaching community college dual enrollment English and math courses on local high school campuses thanks to a partnership between the Kern Regional K-16 Education Collaborative and the Central Valley Higher Education Consortium (CVHEC).
CVHEC’s Dual Enrollment Teacher Upskilling Pathway for English and Mathematics is part of an $18 million statewide competitive grant awarded to the Kern Collaborative this month to improve student progress from high school to postsecondary education and ultimately into the workforce.
The grant was announced June 9 by the Kern County Superintendent of Schools (KCSOS), the lead grant applicant that serves as the administrative agent for the Kern K-16 Collaborative. CVHEC, which is one of several partners in the Collaborative, is made up of 30 institutions of higher education in the valley’s nine-county region from San Joaquin to Kern counties. The presidents and chancellors of each member institution serve on the CVHEC Board of Directors.
South Valley CVHEC members include California State University, Bakersfield (President Lynnette Zelezny); Kern Community College District (Chancellor Sonya Christian); Bakersfield College (Interim President Zav Dadabhoy); Cerro Coso College (President Sean Hancock); Taft College (Interim President Brock McMurray); Porterville College (President Claudia Laurido-Habib); Fresno Pacific University (President André Stephens); and National University (Porterville Campus Center Director Natalia Gaeta).
CVHEC’s primary objective is improving persistence and increasing degree attainment rates, so dual enrollment is seen as an opportunity strategy that aligns with the work pursued by the consortium, said Dr. Benjamin T. Duran, CVHEC executive director.
“Dual enrollment continues to increase in the region but one of the deterrents of dual enrollment opportunities is the lack of high school teachers who have a master’s degree in English and Math,” Duran said. “Schools in the Kern K-16 Collaborative service area deserve to have the capacity to partner with their local community colleges so their students can use dual enrollment classes as one strategy for completion of their degrees in a timely manner.”
CVHEC’s Teacher Upskilling component, which the consortium first implemented in Fresno County last year with similar state funding through the Fresno/Madera K-16 Collaborative, is funded for Kern at $1.7 million to produce, over three years, up to 100 qualified dual enrollment teachers to teach English and Math.
Program funding would help reduce the cost of tuition for those teachers who want to pursue a master’s degree in English and Math, as well as pair them with a community college mentor to support them along the way and help them navigate the process to becoming an adjunct community college faculty member. (Masters candidates will be encouraged to contribute to the cost of their tuition in such a way as to show commitment to the programs without putting undue financial strain on themselves or their families).
This would represent a substantial increase in the number of high school teachers “able and willing” to teach those dual enrollment courses on their respective campuses which is the primary outcome of this project, Duran said.
The Teacher Upskilling component in Kern will begin with two cohorts of 20 to 25 teachers each in the fall 2023. Fresno Pacific University will offer a Master’s degree in Mathematics education while National University offers a Master’s degree program in English.
This new pool of qualified dual enrollment teachers would also result in alleviating capacity at the community college and/or CSU or UC schools, Duran added, while enabling high school English and Math teachers — with increased educational advancement in their disciplines — to increase their knowledge, skills and overall capacity for the benefit of all of their students.
Duran said dual enrollment enables all high school students, especially disproportionately impacted students, the opportunity to successfully complete transferable college English and Math courses in high school, thus accelerating their timeline to college completion and their overall success in college.
He also noted that “dual enrollment means free college courses while in high school that frees up needed financial aid for degree completion especially for students facing the burden of food and housing insecurity.”
Duran said dual enrollment also addresses a significant equity gap in student achievement. Through recent legislation (AB 288 and SB 30) more students are able to access the advantages it offers as demonstrated by the increase of 50 percent of participating students from 2016 to 2019 over the preceding years of 2009 and 2015 (pre-AB 288).
“At its core, dual enrollment is an equity strategy,” Duran said. “Through dual enrollment, high school students will be prepared for, have access to and have a pathway for career technical education or preparation for transfer. An increase in teachers qualified to teach dual enrollment will amplify the opportunities for more students.”
Central Valley regional data shows that as high as seven out of ten students enrolling in community college are the first generation in their families to do so. Student performance measures further demonstrate that over half of all incoming community college freshman do not place into transfer level college Math or English without support.
“This deficiency often becomes the main barrier for students to progress in their college program leading to high rates of incompletion among disproportionately impacted underserved students,’ Duran noted. “This single factor spawns a significant equity gap in student achievement.”
In a special video released recently at its second Dual Enrollment Convening March 17 in Fresno, “Blurring the Lines Between High School and College: Dual Enrollment in the Central Valley,” CVHEC highlighted five dual enrollments students and featured them in a panel at the convening as well as at its Summit May 6.
For Kern County, where educational attainment lags behind economic peers across the U.S. and within California (only 17.1 percent of Kern County residents hold a bachelor’s degree or above compared to 34.7 percent statewide), the Master’s Upskilling project will help the Kern Regional K-16 Education Collaborative support students and parents.
Kern County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Mary Barlow said “the economic success of individuals, families, businesses and entire geographical areas correlates closely with educational attainment and the density of talent in a region. Kern County will not be able to achieve inclusive growth or decrease the number of struggling families without improving educational attainment through early college, dual enrollment, accelerated programs, certification programs, apprenticeships and traditional higher education.”
MEDIA CONTACT: Tom Uribes (email@example.com or 559.348.3278 – text)
About the Kern grant
The Kern Regional K-16 Education Collaborative grant will support efforts that will improve student progress from high school to postsecondary education and ultimately into the workforce. As a result, Kern County residents and industry partners will benefit from new opportunities for upward economic mobility across the region. The focus of grant funding will be on first-generation college students, those from low-income families, and students of color who statistics shows have a lower completion of A–G coursework necessary for admission to the CSU and UC.
The Kern County Superintendent of Schools (KCSOS) was the lead grant applicant and will serve as the administrative agent for the Kern K-16 Regional Education Collaborative, which was proactively formed six months ago in anticipation of the release of this grant opportunity. The Collaborative includes representation from all 46 Kern County school districts, Kern Community College District, West Kern Community College District, CSU Bakersfield, UC Merced, UCLA, and the Central Valley Higher Education Consortium (CVHEC), Kern Economic Development Corporation, County of Kern, Better Bakersfield and Boundless Kern (B3K), and Economic Development/Industry Partners.
- KCSOS Mary Barlow Announces $18.1M Workforce Grant (KCSOS press release – June 9, 2022)
- State announces recipients of $108.6 million in grants to streamline transition from school to college and career – (EdSource May 26, 2022)
- Dr. Herrera to Head Kern Regional K-16 Education Collaborative – (CVHEC e-Newsletter July, 2022)
- “Blurring the Lines Between High School and College: Dual Enrollment in the Central Valley” (CVHEC video – March 2022)
- ‘Dual Enrollment Upskilling Teachers Master’s Program’ Advances Equity (CVHEC e-Newsletter January 2021)
- Kern Education Pledge
- B3K Prosperity