DUSD makes the grade with A-G improvements

College and career counselors at Dinuba Unified School District work to increase student awareness, completion of California A-G requirements, college applications

Dinuba Unified Admin building looking north west.
Serena Bettis
Published December 22, 2023  • 
12:00 pm

DINUBA – The Dinuba Unified School District (DUSD) is continuing to improve upon the number of its students who satisfy the A-G requirements for admission into California’s public universities. 

College and Career Program Director Manjeet Dail and District Counselor Toua Yang presented the work they have done to increase student college readiness at the DUSD Board of Trustees meeting on Dec. 14. In the last year and a half, the district has already seen a significant improvement in the number of its students who are applying to colleges and aware of the A-G course pathway.

“What we want for all our kids is just for them to keep those options open, so that way when they get to their senior year, … they haven’t closed off an option because they’re missing a class they need,” Vicky Armstrong, DUSD assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction, said.

In 2021, the district received $1.5 million in funding through the California Department of Education’s (CDE) A-G Completion Improvement Grant Program, and has since then worked to increase student awareness and understanding of the A-G course requirements, as well as encourage and assist more students in applying to state colleges. 

Yang said that the college and career department’s goals with these funds are to ensure that all students are college, career and life ready, to increase the A-G completion rates at Dinuba High School in a systematic and sustainable manner and to increase the number of students applying to a four-year college.

Hand-in-hand with increasing A-G completion, Dinuba counselors have set their sights on getting more students to submit college applications, again ensuring they keep their post-graduation options open. DUSD has already seen a significant increase in the percentage of students who have applied to colleges, with more to come throughout the spring application period.

Expanding A-G pathways

The A-G course requirements outline the classes students must take at a minimum to gain acceptance into the University of California (UC) system and the California State University (CSU) system. The A-G courses set a guideline for students of what types of courses to take in each subject, and how many years are required or preferred. 

“The A through G requirements really is for us to make sure that they (students) are prepared, so that they’re successful once they attend a UC, CSU or private school,” Dail said.

With the grant money, Dail said the district purchased T-shirts advertising the A-G requirements that were distributed to the entire freshman class and all teachers at Dinuba High; she said she often sees the shirts worn outside of school around the city. 

DUSD also created posters showing the course requirements, which Dail said are in every classroom on the high school campus. 

“A through G awareness is fully out there,” Yang said. “This helps us in the sense of providing awareness for students … and at the same time ensuring they know what A through G is so they can keep themselves accountable in terms of where they’re currently at with A through G progress.”

Yang said the counselors also worked heavily with the world language and math departments at the high school to make A-G completion easier for some students depending on their situation and strengths. 

For example, Yang said that because math is often one of the most difficult subjects for students, DUSD created more pathways at Dinuba High to help students achieve the required math credits. 

Under the A-G requirements, three years of math are required for CSUs, with four years of math recommended for UC admissions; algebra, intermediate algebra and geometry are specifically required. Dinuba High added more classes that are approved A-G courses, including college algebra, elementary statistics and data science. 

By having math courses that are alternatives to categories like algebra and calculus, students can meet the course requirements and take the preferred number of courses in areas they may have more success in. 

“A win in math also is our dual enrollment partnership that we have with Reedley College that really gives the kids a carrot to continue,” Dail said. “Whether it’s at a four-year university or even a two-year university, having that carrot, having that math credit done, gives them that push to continue.”

For world language, Yang said they were able to get the Spanish course available to native speakers to count for two years of A-G requirements, when it previously only counted as one year. That allows native Spanish speakers to fulfill their requirement — which is two years of a language other than English, with three years recommended — without having to take a second foreign language. 

Increasing college applications

Dail and Yang also spoke about the efforts that the college and career department has taken to get more students to apply to college. These efforts include field trips to college campuses, more visits from college admissions counselors, a dedicated “college knowledge” week at Dinuba High and a college awareness night for students and parents. 

Yang said they have worked to get more college representatives to visit the high school from CSUs, UCs, private schools, other four-year colleges and also junior colleges to make sure students know how many options they have when it comes to higher education. 

Success the department has had with these efforts include having more than 90 people attend the college awareness night, including parents and students in all grade levels, and meeting with more than 400 students on multiple occasions during the college knowledge week, Yang said.

The highlight of the Dinuba High counseling team’s work is the application data that has been gathered so far, Yang said. At the board meeting, he spoke about the applications submitted by students so far, but said it was important to keep in mind that not all application periods have closed, and many junior college applications do not open until the spring semester. 

“First and foremost, the highlight is, as of right now, three of every four students have submitted a college-going application,” Yang said. “That number is projected to continuously go up throughout the next semester as well.”

Compared to last year, Yang said that — out of the students who are eligible to attend a CSU — they have already seen a 20% increase in the number of applications; 85% of Dinuba High students who meet the CSU system’s A-G requirements have applied to at least one CSU campus. 

Additionally, 39.5% of students eligible to apply to a UC school have submitted at least one application to a UC, which is a 13.67% increase over last year, Yang said.

DUSD does not yet have exact A-G completion numbers because those are not finalized until the end of the year when grades are posted. The district’s completion rate for 2020-21 was 67.3%, according to the grant allocation list published by the CDE.

“This is a huge win for Dinuba High School — in terms of our counseling team — to be able to push out and promote and have these high-achieving numbers in terms of college applications (for) two- or four-year (schools),” Yang said.

Serena Bettis
General Assignment Reporter