PC receives $2.4M grant
Will create new education degree program
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.
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.
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.