More than 98 percent of Adelanto High School seniors graduated last spring. However, graduation is not the end goal for most students, and college readiness is a major area of focus for AHS and the Victor Valley Union High School School District as a whole.
With that goal in mind, AHS and VVUHSD are piloting the Heritage Program — a first-of-its-kind program in the High Desert with the aim of improving college readiness and increasing college applications for African American students.
“We are committed to providing equitable outcomes for all students, and our data shows that our African American students had a lower college readiness rate as compared to other subgroups,” said Dr. Ratmony Yee, VVUHSD’s Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services.
To overcome this disparity, VVUHSD began the creation of the Heritage Program last year and chose Adelanto as the pilot program for the district this school year. Heritage aims to increase the number of African American students who complete the A-G requirements — 15 courses that qualify a student for University of California or California State University admission.
“Though our graduation rate is high, our A-G completion rate is lower than we would like it to be,” AHS Principal Ebony Purcell said. “The lower A-G completion rate is even more pronounced in our African American student community. The Heritage Program is designed to identify and address the academic and social-emotional needs of African American students in grades 10 through 12 with the goals of increasing the number of students meeting A-G requirements, applying to and being accepted by 4-year colleges. These efforts will coexist with our staff’s ongoing efforts to increase college readiness for all of our student groups.”
AHS recently held a community kickoff event with Purcell and other staff members explaining the goals of the program and the services it offers, including academic progress monitoring, college/career exploration, parent/guardian education, and more.
“It’s been excellent so far,” said AHS teacher Dr. Aleka Jackson-Jarrell, the school’s Heritage Program Coordinator. Jackson-Jarrell said she regularly contacts students to monitor their progress and offer support and resources including tutoring.
Jackson-Jarrell said Heritage will continue to host events throughout the year, including the Family College Application and FAFSA Night for Heritage Seniors at 5 p.m. on Oct. 6 at Adelanto High.
VVUHSD hopes to see a positive impact for AHS’ 343 African American students in grades 10-12 this year, and then the district plans to extend Heritage to other schools throughout the district.
District administrators say the program does not detract from VVUHSD’s college readiness efforts for all students. On the contrary, it provides additional resources for a student group that has seen a disproportionately lower rate of college readiness.
“When we find inequities and disproportionately negative outcomes for some of our student populations, we must work to address those issues,” said VVUHSD Superintendent Carl Coles, who attended the kickoff event along with other district administrators. “I’m proud of Adelanto High School for serving as an example of the work that takes place in all of our schools to address gaps in learning so that all of our students are successful.”