A unique partnership designed to provide East County high school students with a smoother path to college and a career has been created by the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District and the Grossmont Union High School District.
An agreement formalizing the East County Education Alliance was signed at Cuyamaca College by Bill Garrett, president of the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District Governing Board; Cindy L. Miles, chancellor of the college district; Robert Shield, president of the Grossmont Union High School District Governing Board; and Ralf Swenson, superintendent of the high school district.
The Alliance was formed to increase collaboration between the two districts so that students are better informed about their college and career options after high school and have a smoother path to college. The partnership has set goals of increasing the number of students who graduate from high school prepared for college, along with increasing the numbers of students who graduate from college ready to enter the workforce.
“Too often, college and high school districts work in silos – they have different funding streams, different governance structures and different cultures,” Miles said. “What we need to remember is we are serving the same students – just at different times in their lives. The East County Education Alliance helps us to do just that.”
Within the 2014-15 academic year, Alliance members plan to
- align curriculum so that the lessons students are taught in high school better matches the knowledge and skills they are expected to have at college,
- provide communications to high school students, parents and counselors about how best to prepare for college or a career,
- increase programs allowing high school students to take college classes,
- raise scholarships funds for students who commit to goals that prepare them for college or a career,
- launch a website and communications to keep students, educators, and community members informed about resources, progress, and how to get involved.
Following more than a year of planning, the Alliance kicked off October 30, 2014 with a four-hour summit involving 120 college and high school educators designing joint goals and activities to improve student readiness for college and careers. Action councils focused on curriculum alignment (with teams for math, English, ESL, counseling, science, career/technical education); student engagement and readiness; parent, community and workforce engagement; and fundraising and communication.
A joint meeting between the college district and high school district governing boards is being scheduled for March 2015 to review progress toward the Alliance goals.
Swenson said the Alliance expands on the many collaborative efforts already going on between the two districts, such as the Got Plans! college and career fair that the high school district was held at Cuyamaca College, attended by more than 4,000 high school students and parents.
“The Alliance will offer a promising future for our East County community as we work to ensure that every high school student understands the opportunities available to them after graduation,” Swenson said.
Shield, the high school district’s board president, shared Swenson’s enthusiasm.
“It’s exciting to formalize something that’s been in the works for years,” he said. “We’re very fortunate to have this relationship, and I’m confident it will improve the quality of what we do for our students.”
The keynote speaker for the event was Brad Phillips, president and CEO of the Institute for Evidence-Based Change. For 25 years, Phillips has pioneered the collaborative collection and sharing of data across educational segments, using the information to make changes that improve student success.
Phillips previously worked as senior director of institutional research, planning and academic services at the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District. While at the district, he founded the California Partnership for Achieving Student Success (Cal-PASS) that expanded across the state from a data-sharing partnership between the district, Grossmont Union High School District and San Diego State University.
He said the two districts have already collaborated by creating faculty councils in English and math to align curriculum in those subject areas. The Alliance can expand the collaboration into other areas, he said.
“This partnership has been a long time in the making,” Phillips said. “I believe that this Alliance can thrive.”
Garrett said the summit is just the start of increased collaborations between the high school and college districts.
“The East County Education Alliance represents our commitment to help every student in the area be successful,” Garrett said. “This will improve education in East County and make it a better place to work and live.”