Merced County P-16 Education and Community Council
The Merced County P-16 Education and Community Council was founded in 2003, under the leadership of the Merced County Office of Education. The council's singular focus has been to ensure education is the driver for post secondary success and regional economic development. The Council consists of representatives from 19 of the school districts in the county, and includes the Merced County Office of Education, Merced College, California State University, Stanislaus, the University of California, Merced, economic development agencies, community organizations, the private sector, and local government.
Throughout the history of this collaboration, the Council has leveraged resources and the political will to address the goal of improving student achievement by expanding access to a rigorous program of study, so that more students are prepared for higher education or the workplace. In an effort to achieve this goal, the Council developed specific objectives for pre-school, kindergarten through high school, and for higher education. These objectives and data sharing have illuminated structural barriers and helped the collaborative introduce systemic change that both improves student achievement and ensures that all students have access to a rigorous program of study and are college or career ready.
Impact of Mathematics Activities
Through the Council activities, county students have been positively impacted through the infusion of rigor, accountability, and use of data to inform instructional and placement decisions in algebra. Increased teacher capacity, rigor in mathematics instruction and student participation and success in secondary math courses through an Arches grant in 2010.
- Countywide articulation about Algebra that resulted in an alignment of placement practices and data sharing agreements secured from all 21 the county schools
- Sponsorship of the annual Merced County P-16 Algebra Forum. In addition to providing the above mentioned school level data and venues for vertical articulation about issues arising at key transitional times (from middle school to high school and senior year to post-secondary pathways), the focus of the P-16 Algebra Forum has transitioned to a opportunity to share best practices for instruction, assessment and transition to Common Core.
- Acquisition of the Advanced Placement Incentive Program grant that resulted in increases in the number AP course and seniors taking AP exams at two county high schools.
Impact of Early Education Work
Transitional kindergarten (TK) was enacted into California law in the fall of 2012. It became an opportunity to provide the early foundations for school success for those children turning five years old between September and December.
The first year of a two-year kindergarten experience, transitional kindergarten provides a bridge between preschool and traditional kindergarten. Merced County's Instructional Services Department, in partnership with its Early Education Department, have been supporting schools since the inception of TK with the help of funding from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation which was awarded in both 2012 and 2013. The funding has provided professional development and resources to TK teachers throughout the county, and to support a professional learning community of teachers dedicated to providing quality transitional kindergarten experiences to children. Services have included workshops, school visitations, and videos of best practices for instructors. Contact Michelle Symes at MCOE for more information.
- TK Meetings and Resources
Impact of Work with Institutions of Higher Education
Merced County districts have benefitted from the Council's development of relationships with business and higher education institutions and continued articulation and leveraging of resources. Collaborative activities have resulted in the following:
- Participation in the Cal-PASS initiative to collect, analyze, and share student data, so as to better track student performance and improve success from K-12 to post secondary settings.
- Collaboration with Merced Community College. The college has continually attended Council meetings to share data and identify ways to leverage this information to provide a smooth transition between high school and community college and increase student success in college level courses. The college has worked with Merced County districts to pilot a mathematics intervention program for those students who have been identified as needing remediation through the college's Accuplacer assessment.
- Through an active partnership with UC Merced Center for Educational Partnerships (CEP), the Council has been able to secure data agreements to monitor student enrollment and success in secondary math courses for the past five years. CEP has provided countywide data around increases in the number of 8th grade students who have successfully completed Algebra with a C or better and enrolled in a sequential college preparatory level math course. This information has informed placement and instructional practices for teachers and schools across the county. The Council's partnership with CEP has helped to improve student academic achievement and allowed dialogue and action to address academic inequities and performance disparities and to develop systemic capacity and strategies with local K-12 schools and school districts, other postsecondary institutions, businesses and community- based organizations.
- P-16 Council Meetings
- County-wide EAP data
Business-Education Alliance of Merced County – B.E.A.M.
B.E.A.M. is a partnership of committed business, education, government, and community leaders who support education, workforce development, and economic growth in Merced County. Our mission is to support each child's journey - from preschool to productivity - building an educated community, a qualified workforce and a strong local economy.
Our goals are:
- Beginning with preschool, ensure all children in Merced County have access to quality education that leads to lifelong employment skills
- Narrow the achievement gap early on by making effective early childhood education a priority, resulting in increased high school, vocational and college graduation rates
- Support education strategies, starting with preschool, that will decrease incarceration rates, reduce dependence on social welfare, and increase long-term economic self-sufficiency
- Increase family and community involvement in education by developing a communication network that will promote the vision, mission and goal of B.E.A.M.
In 2012, leaders from B.E.A.M. met to address a critical problem for both business and education: how to increase the number of graduates from Merced County high schools that are prepared for the demands of college or career in an increasingly competitive global society. Leaders representing Merced County businesses and the P-16 Council then defined the characteristics of graduates who are both college or career ready.
High school graduates must have the academic knowledge and skills in literacy and mathematics needed to qualify for and succeed in post-secondary college coursework or job training, whether it is from community colleges, technical vocational programs, or on-the-job training. However, leaders also identified a set of workplace competencies that were equally important for college and career preparation: Graduates needed to possess people-skills and be effective communicators; demonstrate strong work habits and self regulation, show self direction and persistency in tasks, demonstrate both creativity and critical thinking, and be technologically literate, so as to be able to innovate and collaborate within and beyond school and the workplace. These characteristics became known as twenty-first century knowledge and skills and B.E.A.M. believes they are essential for college or career readiness.
B.E.A.M.'s intention is to support ongoing dialogue and implementation of policies, practices and programs that ensure all graduates demonstrate twenty first century knowledge and skills. We believe that collaboratively, businesses, education and family institutions can create a culture of rigor and high expectations for our students and contribute to sustained economic growth that is essential for the economic well being of our community.
- Merced Metrics that Matter
This is a report card that has emerged from B.E.A.M.'s work, defining key indicators of progress towards ensuring the goal of college or career readiness for all students is realized.
- B.E.A.M. Members
- B.E.A.M. Meetings
Merced County Instructional Rounds Network
Instructional Rounds is a way for educators to work together to improve instruction (City, Elmore, Fiarman, & Teitel, 2009). The practice combines classroom observations, the development of an improvement strategy, and a network of educators that are committed to improving instructional practice. Merced County's Network superintendents have committed to establishing well-defined theories of action to assist their sites in the identification of problems of practice, and to affect sustainable change that focuses on deepening the understandings of the instructional core. They have agreed provide professional development in the Rounds process at their school sites, to ongoing classroom walks, and to holding each other accountable for following through with actions identified in Rounds visits as the "next levels of work". Additional information about Rounds or about the Merced County Network can be obtained by contacting the Instructional Services Department.
The Silicon Valley Mathematics Initiative (SVMI) Consortium
The Silicon Valley Mathematics Initiative (SVMI) is a comprehensive effort to improve mathematics instruction and student learning. It is based on high performance expectations, ongoing professional development, examining student work and improved mathematics instruction. Merced County has joined SVMI in a countywide consortium in order to bring professional development opportunities that build the capacity of teachers through the use of Mathematics Assessment Resource Service (MARS) assessments. Districts participating in the SVMI Consortia will have access to training, under the leadership of Dr. David Foster, the MARS assessment database, and other SVMI proven resources that support the implementation of rigorous mathematics instruction. Additional information about joining Merced's SVMI Consortium can be obtained by contacting the Instructional Services Department.
Expository Reading and Writing Course (ERWC) County Network
The county, in conjunction with Fresno County Office of Education, is pleased to offer workshops and ongoing support for English teachers as an introduction to the materials contained in the California State University (CSU) 12th Grade Expository Reading and Writing Course. These materials and professional learning opportunities are aligned with the English-Language Arts Content Standards. The course emphasizes the in-depth study of expository, analytical, and argumentative reading and writing. These rich, adaptable resources, developed by a collaborative group of CSU and high school faculty and specialists, are designed to help students develop the academic literacy skills necessary for success in college and the world of work. Schools may adopt the course as a senior English course or integrate course modules within existing English courses at the 11th and 12th grades. Ongoing efforts include opportunities for training for teachers for the 8th grade ERWC materials and lessons, and networking meetings with other content area teachers.