Valley College Receives Grant to Expand College Level Classes for High School Students

Los Angeles Valley College is launching a new program to provide Latino and low-income students in several East San Fernando Valley high schools access to more college courses even before they graduate.

The college is debuting the “Caminos Al Triunfo” (Pathways to Victory) after receiving a five year, $3 million grant from the US Department of Education.

“Our ‘Caminos Al Triunfo’ project will make a meaningful impact to the lives of students in the eastern San Fernando Valley,” Valley College President Barry Gribbons said in a released statement. “Our new career pathways will launch students towards paths to success from high school to college completion to careers in high-demand, high-wage fields.”

The project is aimed at increasing the success of Latino and low-income “dual enrollment students” at campuses primarily within the Los Angeles Unified School District’ (LAUSD) Local District Northeast, including Arleta, East Valley, Fulton, Grant, North Hollywood, Polytechnic, Van Nuys, Science STEM Academy and Rodgers high schools.

“We will also be working with other surrounding high schools, including charter and private,” said Valley College spokesperson Jennifer Fong Borucki.  

Dual Enrollment

LAUSD students can take community college courses and earn college credits while still enrolled in high school. Known as Concurrent or Dual Enrollment, these classes meet graduation requirements, offer additional course options for career preparation, and assist in the transition to college. 

In Concurrent Enrollment, students take courses at the community college site with college professors. In Dual Enrollment, classes are held on the high school campus usually outside the regular school day. In the Dual model, classes are taught either by community college professors or school faculty members approved by the college site to teach the college’s curriculum.

More than 300 classes are offered through this program, from American Sign Language to Heating and Air Conditioning Theory and Culinary Arts Orientation.The classes are free as long as the student enrolls in courses that earn them less than 12 units.

Studies have shown that participation in the program increases the likelihood of students attending and completing college. They are also better prepared for college, both academically and socially, and most of the classes are transferable to four-year UC and CSU universities.

A report from Wheelhouse: The Center for Community College Leadership and Research found that 12.6% of California’s high school seniors in 2016-2017 took dual enrollment courses during high school. However, a higher share of Asian (19%) and white (14%) high school seniors took dual enrollment classes than Latinos (11%) and African-American (9%) seniors. In addition, socioeconomically disadvantaged students were less likely to take part in those programs.

The report also stated that more than 80 percent of California’s public high schools didn’t have any students in dual-enrollment classes.

“Caminos al Triunfo” improves collaboration between the college’s Career Transfer Center and Workforce Development department to connect work-based learning to a viable career, along with enhancing faculty-student engagement by offering culturally inclusive, equity-minded professional development training for dual-enrollment faculty, according to the college.

Borucki said, “work-based learning means hands-on career-focused educational learning experiences that help prepare students for entering in-demand, high-wage career fields.”

Open To All

Borucki said that a grant coordinator would be hired to assist with the day-to-day operations of the program. The project director is Jermain Pipkins, dean of Academic Affairs at Valley College.

The school anticipates the program will serve upwards of more than 1,000 students “with varying academic backgrounds including high, average, and lower performing students,” Borucki said. “Dual enrollment opportunities through this grant will be made available to all students.” 

Dual enrollment students are chosen in collaboration with high school partners, the spokeswoman said, with “an emphasis placed on assisting disproportionately impacted students and students of color.” She added that participation and eligibility is not based on income.

Information about the college’s dual-enrollment program is available at http://www.lavc.edu/DualEnrollment.

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