WHITTIER – Two Whittier Union high schools have been recognized for their success in guiding students toward completing rigorous coursework required to attend a California four-year university, significantly narrowing the achievement and equity gap, and providing these students an opportunity to have greater success in higher education, and pursue their dream career.

Santa Fe and Pioneer high school students are completing their A-G coursework at rates far above the California average, and across numerous demographic subgroups, including socioeconomically disadvantaged (58%), Latinx (60%), Black (50%) and English Learner (35%). State rates for these groups are 34%, 35%, 29% and 18% respectively. Schoolwide A-G completion rates are 76% for Pioneer High and 65% for Santa Fe High. The California completion rate average is just over 40%.

The schools were cited by the Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE), a Southern California-based independent research center, which chose Whittier Union as one of nine California school districts to highlight in its recently-released “A-G Resource Guide,” which details insights and strategies which have proven to be successful in raising the percentage of students completing A-G.

“We are extremely proud to be recognized by PACE. These numbers reflect the dedication and hard work of our administrators, teachers, parents and, most importantly, our students, who are rising to meet the academic challenge of high expectations,” Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services Lilia Bozigian said. “Whittier Union continues to believe demographics do not determine destiny and that all students have an opportunity to attend a four-year university or select a career pathway of their choice.”

To fulfill A-G coursework requirements, students must complete and pass with a “C” grade or better two years of history, four years of college-prep English, three years of college-prep math, two years of college-prep science, two years of foreign language, one year of visual and performing arts and one year of a college-prep elective.

The PACE report details numerous strategies employed at Santa Fe and Pioneer high schools, which are both Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) National Demonstration Schools, employing the college-readiness elective on a schoolwide basis.

Other strategies employed by Santa Fe and Pioneer that were highlighted in the report include:

• Immediate intervention: Providing extra time at the end of every course for students to start homework, complete homework or have a one-on-one tutoring session.
• Open access: Open-access to all A-G courses, including dual enrollment courses.
• Proactive credit recovery: Students who are falling behind or have failed classes can attend summer school, adult school or enroll in a Guided Studies course to recoup credits and get back on the A-G track.
• Comprehensive A-G informational curriculum: Whittier Union’s Step to Success program offers college and career exploration and planning videos, course-selection sheets, and other resources for each high school grade level.
• Collaborative process: District works with teachers, the teachers’ union, site administrators, curriculum department, and the Board of Trustees for developing, reviewing, submitting and editing A-G courses.
• Align A-G, CTE and graduation requirements: Through partnerships with local community colleges and industry professionals, Whittier Union has embedded career academies at each of its school sites, giving students opportunities to take A-G approved courses in business and computers, hospitality, film and media, architectural engineering and other career pathways.

“Congratulations to Santa Fe and Pioneer high schools for their success in raising A-G completion rates across all student groups,” Superintendent Dr. Monica Oviedo said. “By using common-sense strategies to increase student achievement, these schools are providing templates for success that can be used at any comprehensive high school. Thank you to PACE for highlighting our schools and programs.”