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Las Positas College and Tri-Valley ROP Launching Immersive Middle College Program for High School Students

March 2, 2015

Las Positas College Livermore California 5Local high school students are being given a unique opportunity to simultaneously earn high school and college credit in an innovative Middle College Program launching at Las Positas College in Livermore. In collaboration with the Tri-Valley Regional Occupation Program (TVROP), Students enrolled in the program will take classes on the Las Positas campus in Livermore.

The Middle College program was pioneered in the 1970’s in New York. The initiative sought to create a pathway for current high school students to pursue advanced rigor at community colleges and to collect college credits. All the while, students would be fulfilling their existing responsibilities at their respective high schools. The program is not for everyone: the profile for success includes a student that is an independent thinker, one that is seeking out a different learning environment and one that can cope with the challenges of a college landscape.

In order for this vision to come to fruition in the Tri-Valley, Middle College required the full cooperation of LPC and the neighboring school districts – specifically, Dublin, Pleasanton and Livermore. For the initial year, 30 students will be accepted from across the Tri-Valley with the hope that enrollment can be doubled in subsequent years. In order to qualify, students needed to attend an Information Night, submit an application, solicit recommendations, complete a placement test and have a personal interview. Further, eligible students must not be credit deficient at their current high schools.

Dr. Barry Russell and Kathleen Frazer

Dr. Barry Russell and Kathleen Frazer

With the assistance of a former subject and current Las Positas student, Matthew Dierking, we were connected to two key individuals in the Middle College program. We begin our discussion with the President of Las Positas College, Dr. Barry Russell. Barry came to the Tri-Valley in 2013 after a lengthy and distinguished career in the academic field. Most recently, he arrived in Livermore after serving as the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office where he served as Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs since 2009. Have you witnessed the Middle College concept at any other institutions?

Barry Russell: “I have worked with this program for many years and have interacted with most of the programs in the state.” Among all of the other academic offerings available at LPC, please describe why it is important to provide the Middle College opportunity to Tri-Valley students.

Russell: “In our effort to reach out to the community in a variety of methods and programs, the Middle College provides yet another avenue for the college to respond to the needs of the community. It is not a strategy that had its start from the administration at LPC, it is a response to the needs brought to us by the education community (via Tri-Valley Educational Collaborative).” As a sort of “State of the Union”, kindly share how LPC is trending – with regard to the diversity of programs, enrollment and growth.

Russell: “LPC is a strong institution that is building its capacity to grow. Over the past five years, the state and the region have lost a great deal of its capacity to grow due to the downturn in the economy. As the economy gets better, the college is moving towards a sustainable growth pattern. The major activities taking place in 2015 are: hiring over 15 new faculty members, breaking ground on a new building that will house at least 12 new classrooms for campus expansion; completing an educational master plan for the future growth of educational programs and services; and initiating a resource development strategy to help fund these future activities.”

To further expand our profile, we reached out to the Tri-Valley ROP Administrative Director, Kathleen Frazer to share her thoughts. Ms. Frazer previous worked as a classroom teacher in primary education. Further, she later served as a high school Principal in Fairfield. She joined TVROP last year to specifically lead the Middle College program and to work on CTE development in support of all schools in the Tri-Valley. Participating in the Middle College program is a process. It is one that includes an informational night, an online application and an interview. In general, how did the applicants perform with respect to all of the steps? Might you expand or refine the process in succeeding years?

Kathleen Frazer: “The application process closed on 02/28/15 for the 2015-16 school year. We have had considerable interest in the program thus far. We will continue to evaluate the program and process to ensure that we provide the best opportunities for our students.” We’re surmising that this program is appropriate for a certain segment of students. In your own words, please describe the type of student that would succeed/benefit in this offering.

Frazer: “Successful students will be self motivated, eager to learn and ready to tackle the challenges of college curriculum. There are a variety of students interested in this program and success is really dependent on their efforts and academic goals.” Since the Middle College students will be expected to complete their existing high school coursework, what types of support services can you provide to them while on campus at LPC?

Frazer: “Students will have high school teachers that teach the high school courses as well as an academic support/AVID type class and with the small cohort teachers will be able to offer more individualized support. Further, they have access to all the resources a typical Las Positas student would have.” Anything else that you would like to add?

Frazer: “Middle College is a fantastic opportunity for students seeking other alternatives than a traditional high school setting. This program offers students an opportunity to receive up to 44 college credits by the time they graduate, at no cost to them.”

So, there you have it. It’s a burgeoning program that will benefit up to 30 Tri-Valley students in its first year. Without a doubt, the enrollment will increase in the coming years. But the pioneering students should be commended for taking on this unique challenge. It is an opportunity that will facilitate their matriculation throughout the entire college experience. would like to thank Dr. Barry Russell and Kathleen Frazer for their contributions to this profile.


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