Education

Fresno Unified, higher-ed partners get grant for college focus

Four of the region’s top education leaders – State Center Community College District Chancellor Paul Parnell, Fresno State President Joseph Castro, UC Merced Vice Chancellor Charles Nies and Fresno Unified Superintendent Michael Hanson – met Thursday to sign a partership to improve student outcomes.
Four of the region’s top education leaders – State Center Community College District Chancellor Paul Parnell, Fresno State President Joseph Castro, UC Merced Vice Chancellor Charles Nies and Fresno Unified Superintendent Michael Hanson – met Thursday to sign a partership to improve student outcomes. rappleton@fresnobee.com

The leaders of Fresno State, UC Merced, State Center Community College District and Fresno Unified gathered at Sunnyside High School on Thursday to announce a partnership geared toward improving student success rates from elementary school through four years of college.

A $500,000 grant from the College Futures Foundation will pay for a full-time staffer from each entity to meet daily at Fresno Unified headquarters to compare data collected at each campus. Fresno Unified Superintendent Michael Hanson said these numbers will be used to tweak existing policies and possibly create new strategies to help Fresno students move from kindergarten through a bachelor’s degree.

Fresno Unified and University of California at Merced have had a similar partnership for several years, Hanson said, but the grant will allow the other colleges to join them. He expects the partnership will be up and running by the end of the summer.

Hanson hopes to improve his district’s A-G completion rate, which measures how academically ready a high school graduate is for college. In the last five years, Fresno Unified’s A-G completion rate has grown from 24 percent to 49 percent. The state average is about 43 percent, Hanson said.

Fresno State President Joseph Castro, UC Merced vice chancellor for student affairs Charles Nies and State Center Chancellor Paul Parnell spoke after Hanson.

“For K-12, community colleges and bachelor’s degree-granting institutions to share data, and to use it to focus on pathways for student success, makes natural sense,” Nies said. “But unfortunately, these partnerships don’t exist. So we are happy to be a model for the rest of the country.”

Castro said that each of the education leaders “wants to do what’s best for our young people in our community.”

“We want them to thrive and be part of the next generation of leaders right here in Fresno, throughout the Valley and beyond,” he added.

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