More than 135 secondary and postsecondary educators assembled for the “Establishing Dual Enrollment Pathways in the Central Valley” Convening March 17 in downtown Fresno to address challenges and barriers to dual enrollment success and to hear four valley students share their success stories – including two who completed associate degrees before their high school graduation.
Presented by the Central Valley Higher Education Consortium and its Central Valley Dual Enrollment for Equity and Prosperity (CVDEEP) Task Force, the five-hour convening at the DoubleTree By Hilton Hotel also featured the premiere of CVHEC’s latest education video, “Blurring the Lines Between High School and College: Dual Enrollment in the Central Valley.” (See related story this issue).
Dr. Mayra A. Lara, associate director of Educator Engagement for The Education Trust-West based in Oakland, discussed her organization’s recent report, “Jumpstart California: A Roadmap for Equitable Dual Enrollment Policy & Practice.”
While many concrete and soul-searching discussions arose from three morning sessions and three afternoon sessions, the highlight of the event was the panel of four students discussing their dual enrollment experience:
- Arlene Rocha, who earned an associate degree from Bakersfield College at age 17 while attending Wonderful Prep Academy in Delano before earning a bachelor’s degree at Fresno State by age 19, is now enrolled in the Emerson College Master’s Program online as well as the Speech Language Pathology Assistants Certification Program at Fresno State. She mapped out a rigorous and challenging, but “fun,” dual enrollment program for all four years of high school that led to 375 credits (250 required for graduation) and a 4.18 GPA.
- Nataly Frias who earned two associate degrees from Merced College at age 18 while at Turlock High School and is now enrolled in upper-division courses for a degree in psychology at Fresno State. She said more schools should promote dual enrollment and ensure college credit is given;
- Isaac Bates, a Corcoran High School senior currently enrolled in dual enrollment courses from College of the Sequoias, said he was able to get college credit for his dual enrollment classes while his friends in Advanced Placement did not;
- Alicia Bias, a Washington Union High School senior taking Fresno City College courses where she is completing clinical labs for a medical assisting certification.
Nataly was accompanied by her parents Anthony Frias, who is a counselor at Modesto Junior College, and Sabrina Frias, who is a counselor at Merced College. Alicia’s mother Valerie Saenz accompanied her. All were welcomed warmly by the educators in attendance.
CVHEC Executive Director Benjamín Durán said “perhaps the highlight of the event was the inspiring student panel where 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 It was very satisfying to see that our efforts have the concrete results these students demonstrate,” Durán said.
He also commended 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 “annual” 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,” Durán added.
In his opening at the convening, Durán reviewed concrete results that were recommended at the first gathering in 2020 and the progress of the past two years:
- Improvements in the CCCApply application process to the California Community College system.
“Our CVDEEP Task Force led the way statewide in collaborating with the CCC Chancellor’s Office to redesign the application for student friendliness,” he noted. “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 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,” Durán said.
He added, “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 a wonderful by-product is from these interactions we are all learning from each other here in the Central Valley.”
Martín Macías, superintendent of Golden Plains Unified School District in San Joaquin who spoke on the panel “Meaningful Dual Enrollment Pathways in the Central Valley,” commended the task force because the convening “facilitated ways to provide access to the students with the greatest needs (our valley) and by helping us come to the table and share practices that are providing positive results systemically.”
A full report detailing recommendations from the sessions will be forthcoming in April.
See related links:
Full press release announcing the convening
In 2016, a new dual enrollment option was introduced through Assembly Bill (AB) 288, amending Education Code (EC) 76004, and creating the College and Career Access Pathways (CCAP). This legislation enabled more high school students to take college courses taught by college professors on their high school campuses. California AB 30, signed by Governor Newsome in October 2019, expands and protects dual enrollment through 2027.