An innovative master’s degree program is underway to incentivize dual enrollment delivery at Central Valley high schools with the “Dual Enrollment Upskilling Teachers Master’s Program in English and Math.”
This approach addresses an equity concern raised by the Central Valley Dual Enrollment for Equity and Prosperity (CVDEEP) Task Force that was convened by the Central Valley Higher Education Consortium (CVHEC) in March 2020 when educators asserted that not enough Central Valley teachers are available to teach dual enrollment resulting in fewer opportunities for students – an equity gap.
“Although dual enrollment has been a tool for students to get ahead for college, not every student has been exposed to its benefits and still others who may not view themselves as ‘college material’ lose out on the benefits of its early exposure,” said Dr. Benjamin Duran, executive director of CVHEC. “By broadening dual enrollment opportunities for both rural and urban students, where they didn’t previously exist, more students are able to develop their collegiate confidence.”
CVHEC decided to tackle this equity issue head on when the Fresno K-16 Collaborative made funding available to its local partners. The Fresno K-16 Collaborative is the recipient of a $10 million investment Governor Gavin Newsom announced at the November 2019 California Economic Summit with the intent that the program will take innovative approach to improve student experience and create opportunities for success. Duran said dual enrollment is an effective strategy to help Central Valley students accelerate their college learning.
“Dual Enrollment is key to student access, success and equity. The reality is that dual enrollment only works when students can participate,” said Duran.
CVHEC received grant funding from the Fresno K-16 Collaborative for the Dual Enrollment Upskilling Teachers Master’s Program for English and Math in partnership with CVHEC-member institutions National University and Fresno Pacific.
CVHEC is coordinating two grants: one that is specifically for K-16 Collaborative partners in the Fresno area and a second one that allows for an expanded regional reach. In all, teachers from Fresno, Madera, Merced, and Kings counties will benefit from the Dual Enrollment Upskilling Teachers Master’s Program for English and Math 1.0 and 2.0.
“CVHEC’s two Dual Enrollment Upskilling Teachers Master’s Programs meet the Fresno K-16 Collaborative’s accessible equity-focused mission of creating an integrated, replicable, regional K-16 educational system foundation to address race equity and inclusion of our most vulnerable student populations,” said Karri Hammerstrom, executive director of the Fresno K-16 Collaborative.
This teacher upskilling program serves as a model to scale the program throughout CVHEC’s nine-county region as funding becomes available.
“CVHEC’s mission in all of our work is to create scalable innovations among our intersegmental higher education member institutions,” said Duran. “Although we are starting with a smaller scaled region, our commitment is to scale this program to all nine-counties as soon as we are able.”
The first cohorts of master’s degree students began their studies the first week of January 2021 and the second round of cohorts will begin in May 2021.
Students will have tuition supplemented, in some cases books will be paid for as well and students participating will be paired with college instructors from State Center Community College District who will serve as mentors. In total, the Upskilling Teachers Master’s Programs (1.0 and 2.0) provide for 115 teachers to participate in the program.
In Spring 2019, Central Valley community college leaders approached CVHEC to provide convening assistance surrounding dual enrollment that led to a gathering in July 2019 where over 60 education leaders from the CVHEC region began exploring the issue in follow up sessions.
From those convenings, CVHEC created the Central Valley Dual Enrollment for Equity and Prosperity (CV DEEP) Task Force consisting of Central Valley colleges and K-12 partner district educators collaborating to develop a strategy for effective dual enrollment programs regionally.
In March 2020, CVHEC held a comprehensive convening of the CVDEEP taskforce where over 100 community college and K- 12 partners gathered to share best practices, identify ongoing challenges and propose viable solutions.
“One of the top challenges that emerged is the need for more instructors qualified to teach college math and English to meet the increased demand for course offerings in dual enrollment (DE) programs,” said Virginia Madrid-Salazar, CVHEC strategies lead who developed a white paper documenting the organization’s DE initiatives and providing the foundation for the master’s attainment program proposal: “Dual Enrollment in the Central Valley: Working Toward a Unified Approach for Equity and Prosperity”.
“The most desired solution was a partnership with universities for streamlined programs so that interested high school faculty could earn their master’s degree in these two high-need disciplines,” she said. “This would enable them to meet the minimum qualifications set forth by the State Chancellor’s office required to teach college-level courses and providing this opportunity for students as part of their regular high school instructional day.”
CVHEC is a one of 15 Collaborative Partners that comprise the pilot Fresno K-16 Education Collaborative established in 2020 with funding by California Governor Gavin Newsom, reporting to his Council on Post-Secondary Education, to develop four dual enrollment-related educational pathways that help Fresno-area students move from high school to college and into the workforce.
“The outcomes from the ongoing dialogue between community colleges and their K-12 partners in the valley will continue, as will advocacy efforts, to institutionalize dual enrollment as a strategy,” Duran said. “A strategy to blur the lines between high school and community college for those students who can benefit from taking college courses and get a leg up on their quest for a college degree or certificate.”