Sierra College Leads State in Working with High Schools

Students studying in a Sierra College math class
A Sierra College math class

Sierra was recently featured in a PACE (Policy Analysis for California Education) brief as a leader in helping students place into higher math classes.

We work a lot with local schools to help students move between high school and college.

Bridging the Gap Between High School and College

We developed a program to make sure high-school graduates are prepared for college math courses.

In their latest report, PACE writes about the partnership between these groups:

  • Sierra College
  • Sacramento State
  • Placer County Office of Education
  • Placer Unified School District

In 2012, these partners created the EAP Senior Year Math Course (ESM). Sierra College used a $20,000 grant to help develop the curriculum.

Pitt Turner is a math professor at Sierra College. According to him, writing the curriculum was a shared effort:

Writing the ESM curriculum was a huge process that involved a lot of people. Yet it had a simple start with a meeting between Sierra College’s Vice President of Student Services Mandy Davis and CSUS Director of the Center for Career and College Readiness Joy Salvetti. It was this initial meeting that spearheaded the entire program.

Initially, Professor Maile Barron worked with local high schools. Then she was given a sabbatical to write the curriculum, so the ESM program is based on these collaborations.

The original version was an after-school program. It became so popular, it was added to the senior curriculum.

I became involved a few years ago when Maile Barron retired. At that time, the program was gaining interest in Sacramento County, so we rewrote the curriculum to make it more detailed and polished.

From the conversations I’ve had, the students have really benefitted. Working in groups in the high-school program helped them transition to college. It has also helped them to form their own study groups and gain the critical thinking skills needed in college courses. They also learned how to think about math in a more applied setting, not just a formulaic one.

The program is en route to becoming state wide. Soon, every high school will be able to choose this curriculum as long as they form a partnership with the local community colleges and the CSU system. It’s been a great process to get all the local schools involved and working together.


Now, students who pass the ESM course with a good grade can take higher-level math classes at Sierra or Sacramento State without needing an assessment.

Since the program began, Sierra College students who took the ESM course are staying in school and succeeding.

PACE is trying to make it easier for students to do the following:

  • Go from high school to college
  • Be prepared for the workforce
  • Finish degree programs
  • Transfer to four-year schools

Sierra is proud to lead the way to make it easier for students to get a college education.

For more information, read “Building Intersegmental Partnerships” by Elizabeth Friedmann. Published June 2017 at www.edpolicyinca.org