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Calendar >  Community Unites To Give Vista Unified Students Options For Higher Learning

Community Unites To Give Vista Unified Students Options For Higher Learning

By   /  December 29, 2016  /  No Comments

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Ray Huard …More students than ever in the Vista Unified School District are completing a series of courses needed to get into a four-year college in the California university system.

But school officials say that’s not good enough. They’ve enlisted the help of community partners such as the United Way of San Diego County, North County Lifeline and the Vista Chamber of Commerce to help through the Vista Partnership for Children.

“We’re not where we want to be,” said Jacqueline “Kiki” Bispo, the school district’s community and family engagement lead.

In 2015, 37.3 percent of graduating seniors had completed the prescribed courses, known as A through G courses, Bispo said.

That compares to 29.9 percent in 2014 and 29.4 percent in 2013, Bispo said.

While the improvement is “exciting,” Bispo said that the district is determined to get more students taking the courses to better prepare them for college or careers.

The courses have met the rigorous requirements from the College Board to cover material needed to prepare students for college and “to have a creative and strong mind for critical thinking and analysis.’” Bispo said.

They include history and social science, English, math, lab sciences, a language other than English, visual and performing arts, and college preparatory electives.

“Some may not take them, because their initial plans may not include college. They may think, ‘I’m not a college-going kid,’ Bispo said. “We say, each and every one of them is capable of going to college. If you don’t go, that’s OK, but we still want you to take these courses so you have a thoughtful mind and are capable of going out into the world and be successful.”

Students can get into community colleges without completing A through G courses, but those that do get a head start because they’re better prepared for the rigor of college, said Tia Anzellotti, director of partnerships for the United Way of San Diego County.

“Taking those is really setting students up for a much greater chance of success in community college,” Anzellotti said. “No matter what path students are going to take, the foundation they build through A to G courses is going to serve them well.”

Employers also are looking for workers who can collaborate, evaluate problems and come up with solutions – all skills which are fostered in the A through G courses.

“They’re saying things like, ‘We can train an employee on the very technical aspects of our work, but what we can’t train them on is how to communicate or how to work as a team or their math or their writing,” Anzellotti said. “All of those things are part of the A through G curriculum.”

Students is that they have to start taking the A through G courses early in their high school career or they’ll run out of time to complete them for graduation.

“There were some students who were missing completing A through G by just one or two courses and weren’t even aware that was happening,” Anzellotti said.

To get the word out, the district started a poster and leafletting drive early in October to reach students and parents.

More than 10,000 leaflets and 600 posters were distributed, Anzellotti said.

“It’s basically about educating them to give them opportunities,” said Debbie Martinez-Shriver, associate director of programs for North County Lifeline, a nonprofit agency offering a variety of services to children and families.

“It gives them a sense of accomplishment to feel they can be successful to get into college, Martinez-Shriver said. “It sets them up to be able to get into a four-year college. It also sets them up to get scholarships and be able to apply for financial assistance.”

The district also held a series of workshops with parents to explain what the A through G courses are, and why it’s important for their children to take them.

“A lot of parents had no idea (about A through G),” Martinez-Shriver said.

The goal of the fall campaign was to educate students, parents and the community about the courses “so we’re all talking about it,” Bispo said.

“It’s going to take a while. We’re just starting to penetrate the community,” Martinez-Shriver said. “This is going to be an ongoing project for several years.”

The district is in the process of determining how effective the poster and leafletting campaign was, and, starting in January, will ask high school students what else the district could do to get more of them taking the A through G courses.

“We’re hoping to get the students further engaged by getting students involved in rolling out marketing materials,” Bispo said.

School Superintendent Devin Vodicka said that the drive through the Vista Partnership to get more students taking A through G courses “is a wonderful example of the power of collaboration with dedicated partners who are fully committed to the success of our students.”

“This campaign reflects the expectation of our community that all of our graduates will have the option of attending an institution of higher learning as they pursue meaningful careers and opportunities to contribute,” Vodicka said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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  • Published: 7 years ago on December 29, 2016
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  • Last Modified: December 29, 2016 @ 11:16 am
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