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Speaker: OTAN, Outreach and Technical Assistance Network.

Nate Sachdeva: Hello, everyone. Welcome. We're very pleased to be here. Thank you for everybody that's there live. We wish we could be there with you in Sacramento, but we're very pleased to be able to participate in this hybrid model.

So we are San Diego Adult School. We are part of San Diego Unified School District, which has about 100,000 students across 180 schools. We are also part of a consortium with the San Diego College of Continuing Education. So we target the students that are 18 and 19 years old, while our partners at SDCCE target our students who are 20 and over.

All right, so I am Nate Sachdeva. I am the program manager for San Diego Adult School. This is my 15th year with San Diego Unified. I've had teaching experience at the elementary and high school levels. I was the middle school vice principal, as well as an elementary school principal, prior to coming to central office and leading the San Diego Adult School.

I came on board in February of 2020. So it's been quite a fun journey. And Nicole.

Nicole Lincoln: Hi, my name is Nicole Lincoln. And I've been with San Diego Adult School for about eight years now. Prior to that, I did five years in Los Angeles Unified as an elementary school teacher. And here, you will see our staff members that work with us, our team members.

We have Krisley Tate. She's our school counselor. She meets with students regarding some of the career options available to them. And then we have our teachers, Esmeralda Escamilla who's located at our Crawford site; Rosa McCollum, who is at our Garfield site; Megan Johnson, who is at our Mira Mesa site, and Carrol Wise, who's also at our Mira Mesa site. They both work at the site together. And Carrol specifically works with our students, adult basic education.

And then myself, at Lincoln. [laughs] People always say, Lincoln? Yeah, my last name is the name of the school that I'm at.

Nate Sachdeva: The perfect place for it.

Nicole Lincoln: Just a coincidence.

Nate Sachdeva: And at San Diego Adult School, we're offering an engaging comprehensive program for students who are seeking their high school diploma. So like I said earlier, we're really targeting those 18, 19-year-olds who are not successful at our comprehensive sites. We have transitioned to a flexible online educational experience. We've had a lot of learning over the last couple of years.

If we go back three or four years, we were a packet-based program. So luckily, prior to the pandemic, we began to transition over to an online platform utilizing Edmentum. And that allowed us to reach the needs of more students, which is always what we want to do. And now we've also been able to partner with our partners at the College of Continuing Education. That's Nicole's bell ringing at Lincoln High School, so just ignore that.

And one of the benefits of our program is that our students [audio out] to take and pass a college-level course as part of our high school requirements. But they do get that support from our instructors, as well as tuition waived, for that college course. And so the idea is that our students will take a college course. And if they choose to pursue secondary education beyond their high school diploma, they know that they have the confidence to be able to succeed in that setting.

Nicole Lincoln: Sorry about that. So again, as I mentioned, there's four locations where students can come and receive services within our San Diego Unified School District-- the Crawford location, Garfield, Lincoln, and our Mira Mesa location. All of our instructors are available five days a week to meet with students. We offer tutoring services if students need it-- guidance, career, academic-- in just a welcoming environment for our students.

Our Mira Mesa location also wants to attract students who need assistance in language support. Our primary goal is to focus on students who have newly left high school, that 18, 19 year range. Students over that age range can be serviced by our partners at San Diego Continuing Ed.

A major benefit of our program, is that our learning management system, Edmentum, is open 24 hours, seven days a week. So students can log in and access their curriculum any time of the day. And then, in addition to that, our students have the ability to earn college credit by going to continuing education or one of the local community colleges for that college credit.

Nate Sachdeva: And so why would we benefit from DLAC? Well, we wanted to figure out a way to create meaningful relationships with our students. And over the past two years, we've added in an orientation piece where our students have an onboarding with our counselor, as well as the instructor. The counselor is able to go through the transcript prior to enrollment to let the students know what courses are going to be needed and if we're the right fit for them.

They take the CASAS Math and Literacy Assessment, as we all do, but we also added in the Beable Literacy and Strengths Inventory Assessment, which we're going to talk about a little bit later on in the presentation. And then this leads to our college and career planning meeting with our counselor.

So the visual that you have right here is actually the results of an assessment that a student took. So you can see what their strengths are, and then we can also connect that with possible careers that might be of interest to them. And then our counselor can also lead into different college coursework or curriculum that might be beneficial to them or might be of interest to them.

Nicole Lincoln: So in the year one of DLAC, we were able to successfully transition our program 100% online. And we were already kind of leading in that direction. But when the pandemic hit, it was definitely the only way to go to be able to continue to service our students.

When we opened up the later part of the 2021 school year, we were able to offer support to students who wanted to come in and receive that face-to-face assistance. And one thing that we noticed-- we needed to improve our communication. We adopted technological tools, like Zoom, Google Voice, the Remind app so that we could have more of a direct communication means with students.

What did we learn through this? We learned that students that were working full time, part-time students with children, were able to participate in our program more. The retention rates decreased. I mean increased. Sorry about that. We needed to do an overhaul of our drop-in approach. Students were more successful when we were able to meet them where they were, as opposed to them meeting us where we are.

And it became greater opportunities for students to study over the weekend, the evenings, other times when life would prevent them from coming in to the more traditional setting that we were offering.

Nate Sachdeva: So the shifts that we made between years one [audio out] is really-- in year one, we set our vision. We knew exactly where we wanted to go. But year two was figuring out exactly what it was going to look like and doing the work to get us there. So when we implemented the Beable Literacy and Strengths Assessment, another benefit was the relationship between the instructor, counselor, and the student.

It really allowed us to get an idea of who the student is on a personal level, and then have some conversations about what might be of interest to them, and just let them know that there are multiple people through our school that care about them and are knowledgeable of their own personal interests.

Through this, we also mapped out a coursework plan and career plan based on what the goals are of the student. And we really were able to foster a relationship between our students as well. And it's so important because, as we all know, during the pandemic, that was the most difficult piece for our instructors and our students, is that they didn't get to know each other on a personal level the way they used to.

And especially with our population, it's so important to have adults on campus that they can trust and that they know that they a lot of interesting things about them, and that they know about their unique needs as a student.

Nicole Lincoln: So here you'll see an example of what the RIASEC survey students receive while they take the Beable program with us RIASEC stands for these acronyms listed. Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising, and Conventional. And basically, it was giving the students toward their career interests. And it's kind of basically what we did with Dr. Porter when we were doing when we first, first started when we did the interest survey back then. And I'm drawing a blank on the name of it, but--

Nate Sachdeva: The Holland Codes.

Nicole Lincoln: Thank you. Very similar to that. Students enjoyed taking this. And then it really confirmed their thoughts about where their interests were once they did it.

Nate Sachdeva: And so we take that information-- these are actually screenshots from FileMaker, the platform that we use for our database for our students. But so the students can find out more about themselves. The counselor can sit down and say, these are the college courses that might lead you to the career that you're interested in. And we can set goals and monitor their progress throughout the school year.

Nicole Lincoln: So some of the challenges that we faced, we noticed that there was a limited amount of time that students had for taking the assessments. Going 100% online made it difficult to build a rapport with students.

Transitioning from in-person seat time to the remote made it difficult to sometimes meet the needs of some of our diverse learning populations. Like, for example, some of our ESL students, some of our students with IEPs.

We also noticed that some students had difficulty securing reliable technology resources, such as internet access. Sometimes they had difficulty communicating or being an advocate for their needs. If their computer didn't work for whatever reason, they had a difficult time making that known.

And then we also noticed that it might be post-pandemic a motivational drive-- lack of motivation for some students, trying to just get back into the routine of things because the pandemic seemed to wear on all of us, as instructors. But I'm sure some of the students, we wondered if that might be the same.

Nate Sachdeva: So our progress in year two. Now our students are thinking beyond the diploma, which is really one of the goals that we set out for. We are a high school diploma program, but our journey does not stop right when they receive the diploma. We want them to be not only focused on a job, but really thinking about a career. And we want them to be enthusiastic about that career. We want them to be really engaged and be a part of that process to make sure that we are setting forth the foundation for them to get there.

And moving forward this year during our trial period, we've had to do these assessments mid-year or as the students were already enrolled. Ideally, it'll be part of our onboarding process so that our students will be able to get that knowledge about them up front when they first enroll with us. And then we can set that plan from day one. But that is where we get into the timing of all the assessments because we are adding extra layers and extra assessments on top of the already needed and required process assessments.

Nicole Lincoln: And here's a short testimonial from my student, Ariane. She is going to speak on the Beable program.

Nate Sachdeva: Oops.

[video playback]

Student: I think the Beable Career Assessment is great. It shows you what your strengths are. Mine is enterprising, social, and artistic. So for the careers that I like, I like to do hair, and I want to be an entrepreneur eventually.

So when I was looking at the-- you click on a little profile person, and it shows you the career. So I clicked up there, and it shows you everything that you need to know to be a hairstylist. You need to have your station cleaned and all those things, and education-wise how far education you need to have. You need to at least have your GED or a diploma.

And then it tells you about the type of hair you need to do, all those types of things, of how far you need to go along for that. So I think it's great. Depending on what career you want to choose, you can find and pick, and you can observe or explore around in the app. I think it's a cool app to use.

[end playback]

Nate Sachdeva: So in summary, Dr. Porter taught us to build on our own unique strengths as a team. And we did do that at the beginning of the school year to learn more about ourselves. And then we wanted to expand that into the unique strengths of our students, as well. We've really learned that meeting the needs of the students where they are is an important aspect of our students' success.

We used to require seat time requirements. We used to have required times that they had to visit the Learning Lab. But during the pandemic, we realized that a lot of our students are working or are parents, and the typical hours of the school day do not fit their schedule. So they were doing a lot of their work in the evenings or on weekends. And so we wanted to make sure that we were open and accessible to all of those needs of our students.

And as we create that experience with our San Diego Adult School, we want it to be unique. And we want our students to be excited about their next steps and feel like they are part of a Community.

Nicole Lincoln: And in closing, we just wanted to say thank you to the following individuals. Shout-out to Cindy, our DLAC coach, Neda and Penny, Dr. Porter, and Destiny, all of our DLACers, and our San Diego Adult School team members. And that concludes our presentation. Thank you very, very much.