College and Career Collaborative Network Drives Equitable Transformation of Public Education Systems

March 7, 2024

Think about the skills needed for a modern 21st-century job, from internet and tech know-how to basics like speaking and writing. As careers have become more demanding and complex, additional training and education beyond high school have become essentially a prerequisite. Unfortunately, public schools aren’t always up to the task of preparing students to succeed in these post-secondary learning environments. The College & Career Alliance Support Network (CCASN), which became part of The Lawrence in 2022, is working tirelessly to change that.

National Symposium II: Equity Issues in College and Career Pathway Teaching and Learning Practices
National Symposium II: Equity Issues in College and Career Pathway Teaching and Learning Practices

“We are so fortunate that CCASN joined The Lawrence Hall of Science,” said Rena Dorph, Ph.D., director of The Lawrence. “CCASN was ready to be part of an organization that has both a mission and deep history related to equity in K-12 education and learning AND a robust administrative infrastructure for direct engagement with districts, schools, educators and communities.”

CCASN has been on the frontier of transforming public education for over 25 years and has worked in school districts and learning communities across 22 states. The organization partners with a diverse collaborative network of leaders, educators, communities, and other organizations to shape California’s public education system and increase post-secondary choices for all students. CCASN leverages its network to inspire and facilitate the pursuit of bold strategies to institutionalize racial equity in public education systems.

“What we do is built on a fundamental ideology that public education is for all,” said CCASN Executive Director Dr. Tameka L. McGlawn. “We’ve developed a multi-tiered comprehensive strategy for transforming education systems that have historically limited opportunities to prepare students for their choice of a full suite of college and career opportunities upon graduation from high school.”

UC Berkeley Professional Development Provider Partners (UCBPDP)
UC Berkeley Professional Development Provider Partners (UCBPDP)

CCASN’s small but mighty team with over 100 collective years of experience in public education convenes, coaches, advises, supports, and empowers a community of educators to lead the charge for change. For example, in 2009 CCASN supported the pilot of the California Linked Learning District Initiative, a new systemic approach to college and career pathways, across 9 California school districts. Through collaborative partnerships, the organization convened teachers, administrators, and leaders, providing them with skills and resources to assess and support the rollout of Linked Learning in their districts. CCASN has also facilitated high-quality education research to develop research-backed practical solutions to critical equity challenges, emphasizing practitioner-involved research, with education leaders from the state level to districts and schools.

“We commend CCASN for their impactful work in building equity-centered college and career alliances. CCASN has expanded its capacity and lived their commitment to forge and foster an equity-centered network as a strategy for deep and sustainable system change,” said Victor Cary and Lisa Lasky of the National Equity Project. “Dr. Tameka McGlawn’s leadership has helped to forge these partnerships, which demonstrably expand educational opportunities for underserved students throughout the region. We believe CCASN’s strategic approach is pivotal for creating equitable and supportive learning environments.”

Scholars in STEM Learning, CCASN UC Berkeley Summer Residency
Scholars in STEM Learning, CCASN UC Berkeley Summer Residency

CCASN grew out of UC Berkeley’s National Center for Research in Vocational Education and its research on the intersection of college and career readiness. CASN, (then the Career Academy Support Network) in partnership with the California Department of Education, was an early innovator in the burgeoning field of college and career pathway programs, piloting a new integrative model in the Bay Area. The model was replicated statewide and evolved into the California Partnership Academies program, which since its existence boasts over 500 academies across California.

Developing and supporting models, approaches and programs in high schools was a critical first step in improving college AND career readiness. However, during its second decade CCASN recognized that to truly transform college and career pathways, they had to look at public education holistically and through the lens of systemic complexity.

“To have an effective and high-quality high school experience, preparation in learning has to go developmentally right in the early years in elementary and middle school,” said Dr. McGlawn. “Education systems need to create clear pathways to high-school success, and build pathways through access to aligned high quality post-secondary education opportunities and programming. CCASN refocused our work with districts and public education systems to center transforming students’ experiences and outcomes with and across education segments. We work in partnership with education leaders at all levels to align those systems for equity.”

Scholars in STEM Learning, CCASN UC Berkeley Summer Residency
Scholars in STEM Learning, CCASN UC Berkeley Summer Residency

Over several years starting in 2016, CCASN convened four national symposia and created a compendium of the implications from the symposia. With a focus on how to institutionalize equity in practice, the compendium CCASN produced of implications from the symposia continues to guide equity initiatives for both researchers and practitioners. Overall, the conclusions of the symposia argued for inclusive research to practice conducted through an equity lens to underpin real solutions to school systems’ equity challenges at all levels.

“The suite of resources constructed by the forward-thinking and equity-centered team at CCASN are priceless for educators engaged in the important work of college and career pathway development,” said Cheryl Hibbeln, a collaborative partner with IlluminatED.

This renewed emphasis on equity and systems change ultimately led CCASN to become a part of The Lawrence. As part of Berkeley’s School of Education, CCASN had already collaborated with The Lawrence on various grants, programs and collaborative partnerships, like UC Berkeley’s Professional Development Providers (UCBPDP) network. The CCASN team recognized a structural alignment with The Lawrence on values, expertise, collaborative methodology, and culture.

“In routinely tapping the expertise of others, CCASN has modeled a collaborative spirit of ‘all hands on deck’ to work on behalf of students and the adults who serve them,” said Hillary Walker, director of the Bay Area Writing Project.

CCASN Symposium II: Equity Issues in College and Career Pathway Teaching and Learning Practices
CCASN Symposium II: Equity Issues in College and Career Pathway Teaching and Learning Practices

“We wanted to ensure more high-quality programming and equity by design, evidence-based curriculum and instruction, and authentic collaborative partnerships that could assist us in translating our vision to lead equity-driven systems change that also centered STEM in public education,” said Dr. McGlawn. “Based on our experiences, The Lawrence was ideal.”

“The Lawrence was excited to include CCASN as part of our strategic initiative focused on transforming youth pathways,” said Rena Dorph. “This new organizational arrangement provides both CCASN and The Lawrence with the opportunity to build on and strengthen our existing partnership with each other as well as with communities and schools.”

As part of The Lawrence, CCASN continues its essential work of leading equity-driven systems change and building coherent high quality pathways in public education. Together with our centers, including the Center for K–12 Science and the Center for STEM Pathways, CCASN is shaping public education and future scientists, pathway by pathway, partner by partner.

Upcoming CCASN Events

Virtual Lunch-hour Webinar
Wednesday, April 3, 12:00–1:00 p.m.

In partnership with the Center for California Studies at Sacramento State University, CCASN presents a lunch-hour webinar: Findings from the CALSPEAKS Survey of Californians’ Attitudes Towards Race and Equity in Education. The event features expert presenters and respondents from across the educational equity movement.

Learning & Leading Engagement: CCASN Courageous Leaders Series
Spring 2024

Are you a school leader working to build equitable pathways to college and career, and to expand access to aligned Dual Enrollment opportunities at your site or in your district? Do you need an equity audit to assess the effectiveness of your Master Schedule? Whether you lead as a teacher, counselor, administrator, parent, student, school board member or community partner, CCASN’s virtual Courageous Leadership Series can provide you with valuable research-tested approaches, processes and applicable tools to facilitate your work! Come join us!

CCASN’s Spring 2024 Courageous Leader Series will be offered through diverse engagement formats:

  • Three one-hour workshops focused on essential skills for site, district and community leaders expanding Dual Enrollment and designing Master Schedules for equity-driven College and Career Pathways and Systems

  • Six one-hour workshops focused on mastering the competencies required for fearless and strategic leadership within a Beloved Community of Practice committed to leading for equity

  • Three two-hour workshops focused on inclusive planning and implementation of equitable, Dual Enrollment-aligned, and inter-disciplinary College and Career Pathways

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