PC re­ceives $2.4M grant

Will cre­ate new ed­u­ca­tion de­gree pro­gram

Porterville Recorder - - FRONT PAGE - By MATTHEW SARR msarr@porter­villere­corder.com

Porter­ville Col­lege has re­ceived a $2.4 mil­lion, five-year grant from the Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion that will cre­ate a new ed­u­ca­tion de­gree pro­gram, in­crease on­line learn­ing op­tions, and fund more tu­tor­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for its stu­dents. The award is one of 20 is­sued this year as part of the highly com­pet­i­tive Ti­tle V De­vel­op­ing His­pan­ic­serv­ing In­sti­tu­tions (DHSI) Pro­gram. “Im­ple­ment­ing a new de­gree to in­crease stu­dents trans­fer­ring to teacher cre­den­tial­ing pro­grams will have a tremen­dous im­pact on the San Joaquin Val­ley. This grant will strengthen the in­sti­tu­tional ca­pac­ity of Porter­ville Col­lege to as­sist un­der-pre­pared stu­dents and strengthen our lo­cal work­force,” said Bill Henry, In­terim Pres­i­dent.

The cre­ation of a ed­u­ca­tion de­gree pro­gram will al­low the col­lege to do their part to ad­dress the on­go­ing teacher short­age in the state — a need that has been long rec­og­nized by the col­lege as well as lo­cal schools and the Chan­cel­lor of Cal­i­for­nia Com­mu­nity Colleges.

“It’s al­ways been on our radar. One of the ele­ments in

our master plan was look­ing at new pro­grams, and one of the ar­eas iden­ti­fied was a teacher ed­u­ca­tion pro­gram,” said Sam Au­nai, vice pres­i­dent of in­struc­tion at Porter­ville Col­lege. “Sec­ondly, the Chan­cel­lor’s of­fice is also push­ing for it from their end be­cause they rec­og­nize that there’s a short­age of teach­ers in K-12. Third, the K-12 schools in our com­mu­nity have in­di­cated that they al­ways have a short­age of teach­ers. In look­ing at all those fac­tors, it prompted us to do some­thing soon be­cause it’s be­com­ing an area of need, not only in this com­mu­nity, but across the state.”

The new de­gree pro­gram will al­low stu­dents to earn an As­so­ciate of Arts for Trans­fer (AAT) in Ed­u­ca­tion, which, upon com­ple­tion, guar­an­tees ad­mit­tance to a Cal­i­for­nia State Univer­sity. The pro­gram also guar­an­tees a stu­dent will en­ter the CSU sys­tem at ju­nior stand­ing, and will only need to com­plete 60 ad­di­tional se­mes­ter units (or 90 quar­ter units) to earn a bach­e­lor’s de­gree in a CSU pro­gram that has been deemed as sim­i­lar.

Au­nai ex­pects the de­gree pro­gram to be avail­able for stu­dent en­roll­ment within 12 to 18 months. Al­though the col­lege al­ready has 75 per­cent of the cour­ses re­quired for the de­gree, they will need to de­velop new cur­ricu­lum and hire in­struc­tors for the new course­work. The ad­di­tion of the de­gree pro­gram will not re­quire any new con­struc­tion on cam­pus.

The col­lege will also use funds from the grant to im­prove stu­dent ser­vices, in­clud­ing in­no­va­tive and cus­tomized in­struc­tion cour­ses de­signed to re­tain stu­dents and move the stu­dents into core cour­ses.

“Some­times stu­dents

get into col­lege, but they’re not nec­es­sar­ily col­lege ready, and so we need to help them get ready. The grant will al­low us to ex­pand some of our ex­ist­ing ef­forts. That may mean ac­cel­er­at­ing our ba­sic skills cour­ses in math and English so that stu­dents can get into trans­fer level cour­ses faster, grad­u­ate and move on to a four-year in­sti­tu­tion,” said Au­nai.

The grant also pro­vides re­sources to en­hance dis­tance learn­ing aca­demic in­struc­tion.

“We know that there’s a grow­ing num­ber of work­ing adults that come back to school. They may not have all the time nec­es­sary to come to a face-to-face class dur­ing the day, but per­haps they can take a class in the evening, and po­ten­tially

some­thing on­line,” said Au­nai. “Our hope is to have stu­dents grad­u­ate sooner, and that means ac­cel­er­at­ing not only our ba­sic skill cour­ses, but also mak­ing sure that they are suc­cess­ful when they take on­line cour­ses.”

One of the ways the col­lege hopes to ac­cel­er­ate stu­dents’ progress in both prepara­tory course­work and on­line classes is by us­ing grant funds to bol­ster tu­tor­ing ser­vices.

“We have to in­crease our ef­forts in tu­tor­ing for stu­dents to be suc­cess­ful. We want to make sure that they have the sup­port nec­es­sary in all the classes they’re tak­ing. We have cur­rent tu­tor­ing ser­vices, but we want to ex­pand those ser­vices so we can reach a greater num­ber of stu­dents

than what we cur­rently serve,” said Au­nai.

In order to qual­ify for DHSI pro­gram fund­ing, an ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tion must have an en­roll­ment of un­der­grad­u­ate full-time equiv­a­lent that is at least 25 per­cent His­panic stu­dents. In ad­di­tion to meet­ing this cri­te­ria, Au­nai feels that PC’S lo­ca­tion made it a fa­vor­able choice for the Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion.

“We felt we were in a good po­si­tion to ap­ply for the grant be­cause it meets the needs of a teacher short­age, but also be­cause it en­sures that we are help­ing peo­ple get into jobs that pay a liv­ing wage. The fact that we are in a ru­ral com­mu­nity gives us an ad­van­tage in help­ing area res­i­dents con­sider teach­ing as a ca­reer op­tion,” said Au­nai.

RECORDER FILE PHOTO BY CHIEKO HARA

Porter­ville Col­lege has re­ceived a $2.4 mil­lion, five-year grant from the Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion that will cre­ate a new ed­u­ca­tion de­gree pro­gram, in­crease on­line learn­ing op­tions, and fund more tu­tor­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for its stu­dents.

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