Public high school guidance counselors in California (oftentimes assigned the title “school counselors”) nearly always carry huge caseloads (the counselor to student ratio in California is 945:1), thus may struggle to provide high-quality college counseling. First of all, their time is largely taken up with meeting the myriad demands of delivering much-needed academic and socio-emotional counseling to their adolescent charges. In fact, A 2005 study by the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) reported that the average public high school student got about 38 minutes of college advising per year from their guidance counselor, and a 2009 study by the National Center for Education Statistics said the average public school had 457 students per counselor.
Perhaps an even greater problem that exists is that school/guidance counselors receive little-to-no formal training within the college counseling realm when completing their coursework for the purposes of obtaining the Pupil Personnel Services (“PPS”) credential. A 2012 report from Harvard University states “Although graduate course work varies by state … specific course work in higher education or college counseling is rarely required, if even offered.” Less than 10 percent of counselor graduate programs currently offer specific course work in college counseling, as identified by the National Association for College Admission Counseling, and the number of new programs adding such a course in the last year is less than a dozen.
Conversely, VIP’s goal is to optimally prepare and support each one of its students for higher-education choice, completion, and success…no matter what socio-economic, cultural, socio/emotional and/or learning challenges may exist.
The program VIP is instituting has guided hundreds of students from virtually all walks of life in achieving optimal college fit that has been individually tailored to each one’s needs and goals — which is precisely where we believe all of public secondary education needs to go in terms of facilitating its graduates’ brightest-possible futures. The task is a deep and multi-faceted one that certainly includes and reaches far beyond the offering of Advanced Placement (“AP”) classes, group-centered information sessions and college admissions test preparation. It requires caring and nurturing the whole child via listening, reacting, guiding, applying specialized college-concerned knowledge, and we are fully prepared and able to meet such a challenge. As a small group of educators who have worked together in the past, our roster of previous success stories includes college placements at a wide and diverse array of carefully chosen institutions throughout the U.S., ranging from public and private universities to small liberal arts colleges, specialty schools (arts; science, technology, engineering, and math (“STEM”); trades), Ivy League (and equivalent) selections, historically black colleges and universities (“HBCU”), single-gender choices, and pre-professionally-oriented programs and institutions.
These include institutions like Yale, Dartmouth, Stanford, Brown, Columbia, Sarah Lawrence College, Bard College, Reed College, USC, UCLA, UC Berkeley, & many more. We guarantee that your family will be given the individualized attention they need in making one of the most important decisions a young person can make.
Valley International Preparatory High School teachers are expected to take on the role of “teacher-as-designer” of curriculum, developing and submitting curriculum maps at the beginning of each school year that clearly define course objectives, standards to be addressed, and how the Key Cognitive Strategies will be incorporated as a common language of thinking and learning.
Valley International Preparatory High School teachers will also regularly meet in department and advisory-grade level teams where they will share best practices, receive feedback, and collaborate on alignment of curricula across grades and disciplines. As part of “teacher-as-designer” role, curriculum will be revised and refined throughout the year and be based on student performance and assessment data and will incorporate a wide variety of instructional strategies.
At Valley International Preparatory High School, students will participate in a curriculum where:
Contact with teachers on an individual basis during our twice or thrice weekly, 40- minute advisory periods will be used as a cornerstone for student motivation. The advisory curriculum will implement the College Board’s Advisory Session Guides along with grade-level team developed lesson plans on seing academic and college goals, social-emotional development, and organizational and study skills. Advisory teachers will also monitor a students’ grades, help students understand performance data, and invest stakeholders through the “ILP” process. For students, knowing that an adult is personally invested in the success of a student in a “safe” space allows the student to positively develop academic and social skills, and when appropriate, have an adult advocate who can intervene and help re-direct the student.
Every year, advisory teachers will meet with parents/guardians in the fall to craft individualized learning plans (“ILP”) which will include an initial assessment of the student’s learning style and interests, performance data in Math and English Language Arts (“ELA”) diagnostic assessments, and self-reported rankings on a social-emotional rubric. During ILP meetings, students will be aided in crafting two academic and one social emotional goal for the academic year, and advisory teachers will be the point persons in following up with students on a regular basis. Furthermore, students will track their progress towards their goals using an advisory binder that will be presented to parents/guardians at the spring ILP review meeting. Research shows that a strong advisory program boosts students’ achievement and helps them on the path to lifelong learning.
Furthermore, peer involvement aligned with the same academic goals during student- centered and project-based methodologies builds a fabric of shared educational values. Through a varied approach that emphasizes communications skills, both through formal electives and through integration into all subject areas, educational challenges become topics of discussion as opposed to stumbling blocks. Support becomes the norm as opposed to the aspiration. The setting forth of future goals like college and career readiness, keeps students actively engaged in their own prospects, their own dreams, their own education.
The bell schedule will alternate between “A Days” and “B Days,” with different start time. Research has shown that starting school later, even if not every day, can boost academic achievement among adolescents, which is why “B Days” are scheduled to start later. Furthermore, block schedules are better aligned to the demands of the CCSS State Standards (“CCSS”) and have been shown to:
Total 380 instructional minutes
Total 360 instructional minutes
College. Culture. Communication.