Thursday, April 25, 2013

ALLIES: Coordination between K12 Adult Schools and Community Colleges

The LAO Report on Restructuring Adult Education called for better coordination between K12 Adult Schools programs and Community Colleges.

That is happening in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties with the Allies program.

Here is information from the California Adult Schools website about ALLIES and the partnership between San Mateo Adult School and College of San Mateo.

ALLIES Encourages Community Collaboration - March 2012

The workforce gap is growing in California and immigrants are struggling to keep up with the rising educational requirements.
Today more than ever, post-secondary education is essential to securing stable employment. In addition to facing practical barriers such as cost and transportation, students may be daunted by similar course offerings at local adult schools and community colleges. ALLIES, an organization dedicated to supporting community-wide alliances to promote educational and career success of immigrants and their children, is tackling the issue head-on.  

(Hit the "read more" like to learn what Allies is doing in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties.)

In San Mateo and Santa Clara counties, where ALLIES operates, half of the workforce is foreign-born, and one-third of residents are immigrants. These individuals face a serious obstacle in their career and educational pursuits: the lack of an obvious road map to help them achieve their educational and professional goals. Due to an overabundance of class offerings, overlap between courses at various adult schools and community colleges, and the fact that a clear progression linking the options does not exist, potential students are left wondering what to take, where, and how.

In many parts of the state, adult schools and community colleges operate in isolation from each other, creating a lack of cross-system knowledge needed to advise students as they prepare for the transition. This knowledge gap may range from information about curriculum and admissions to questions as basic as what students should expect in college.
The ALLIES Network
The mission statement of ALLIES calls for a unification of efforts between educators, employers, labor, public agencies, community-based organizations and workforce agencies serving adult English-language learners. By clarifying the pathways for access to education, degree attainment, college transitions, and employment, ALLIES addresses the barriers faced by immigrants that single schools or organizations have proved unable to remove.

ALLIES developed from a series of conversations among adult schools and community colleges in 2010. The Silicon Valley Community Foundation, which supported the exploration of potential partnerships, provided a planning grant to establish a strategic plan for ALLIES. In early 2011, more than 60 ESL teachers, faculty, administrators and coordinators from 21 schools throughout the region met to discuss improving the alignment of adult schools and community colleges.

By June 2011, ALLIES had been invited to share best practices and testify on the future of adult basic education and the role of community colleges at the Little Hoover Commission. ALLIES has also conducted state-level research with the Department of Education and the Career Ladders Project on potential collaboration and funding opportunities.

A major focus of the ALLIES network is strengthening partnerships between adult schools and local community colleges. At the most basic level, adult schools refer qualified students to the college, and the college in turn refers lower-level students to the adult school. Such collaborations benefit all parties involved; teachers encourage their students to make the transition to community college when they are most likely to be successful; adult schools can track these alumni and strengthen their own programs based on how they perform at the college level; and community colleges receive an influx of well prepared students.

This year, ALLIES will enter the implementation phase by assisting sub-regions in developing community-wide alliances. By working with local partners to map community assets and needs, providing training and support on collaboration, and coordinating outreach and funding, ALLIES aims to launch 5 to 10 alliances in 2012.

Here is one example of how one adult school and community college are partnering in Silicon Valley:
San Mateo Adult School and College of San Mateo
Since early 2011, teachers and administrators from San Mateo Adult School and College of San Mateo have met regularly to compare curriculum and observe classes. These interactions have enabled them to determine goal transfer levels for students from SMAS to enter the college.

San Mateo Adult School

SMAS Assistant Director Tim Doyle, who credits ALLIES as a catalyst, says, “The ALLIES process brought us into collaboration with the College of San Mateo and yielded concrete results... to increase access for English language learners to the college. Students will be able to enroll directly into college from adult school, and students not ready for college will be referred to the adult school.”

College of San mateo

The collaboration has shaped course offerings and events at SMAS; the school now offers an academic writing course to strengthen the skills of students planning to attend CMS in the future, and a field trip to CSM is planned for May 2012.

The adult school periodically hosts CSM presentations, where college representatives inform adult school students on how to prepare for college success. They also provide contact information for academic and financial aid counselors at CSM.

Patricia Brown, an ESL instructor at SMAS, says, “For the first time in my 12 years at the school, I feel like we have a dialog with the community college. We both understand now that we are serving students in different points of their development, and are able to plan to better support students on their path to success.”

In future issues of Insider, we’ll cover activities at other member schools, including:

  • Gilroy Adult School and Gavilan College
  • Santa Clara Adult School and Mission College
  • Palo Alto Adult School and Middlefield Center
How ALLIES can serve as a model for your school
Many of ALLIES’ core collaborative practices can be adopted and used to initiate new or strengthen existing relationships with local community colleges. Consider implementing these ideas on an informal basis in your school while opening the lines of communication with area community colleges to discuss future partnership:

Provide orientation sessions for adult school students interested in exploring college options.
Encourage community college professors to refer students struggling with their coursework back to the adult school for additional preparation.
Align assessments for easy student placement and seamless transition from adult school to community college.
Keep records on students who continue to community college, and check in with them periodically to monitor success.

Proactive community collaboration can do so much to equip immigrants with the education and training they need to secure employment. In order to make a significant impact on the workforce gap, however, students must be confident in their ability to learn, progress, and achieve their career goals. Established partnerships between adult schools and community colleges provide both teachers and students with a template for success, and these collaborations will no doubt continue to strengthen as time proves their merit.

Email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or subscribe to the ALLIES Google group for more information about the network.


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