The mission of Livermore High School is to provide all students a challenging, standards-based, socially responsible education in a safe and nurturing environment. We envision LHS as a premier learning community in which teachers, staff, and parents lead by example and work collaboratively to help all students strive and achieve.
The Green Engineering Academy (GEA) was born from a desire to provide students throughout the district with exposure to, and experience in, the fields of engineering and technology. Within the school district, the GEA program is unique to Livermore High School. It focuses on careers in clean technology and renewable energy and has been offered at Livermore High School (LHS) since the 2010-2011 school year. LHS teachers saw a need to provide struggling students with the motivation to improve in their studies while also providing students who are already successful in school with the impetus to pursue a career in the engineering and technology fields. LHS received a $150k/year grant to implement a California Partnership Academy (CPA) through the California Department of Education. CPAs are programs designed to prepare students for college and careers. A set of industrial partners, the largest of which are Chevron, Sunpower and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, match the funds provided by the State for the GEA program, as does the school district. Our industrial partnerships are forged through district/site administration and GEA teacher interface with local businesses and community organizations.
In accordance with our district's LCAP goal to increase the percentage of students who have the skills and knowledge to graduate from high school prepared for college and/or a career, the GEA's focus is to improve academic performance and provide career preparation through a smaller learning community, or a school within a school. GEA requires that 50% of students enrolled meet certain dropout risk-factors; one hundred percent of GEA students graduate, thus supporting the goal of increasing graduation rates. The GEA's goals include increasing the percentage of GEA students who graduate having fulfilled the CSU/UC a-g requirements and improving the average GPA of GEA students, and teachers have worked to ensure that GEA courses are UC a-g approved.
During the early years of the academy, roughly 85% of GEA students passed their cohort classes. That percentage has steadily increased each year so that last year 98% of the students passed their cohort classes. We attribute this increase to engaging GEA curriculum and the tremendous work of our GEA team members, who form close relationships with their students and promote a family atmosphere within the GEA. Students and parents have the email addresses and phone numbers of the GEA teachers and counselor and are encouraged to make contact whenever an issue arises. The classrooms of GEA teachers provide GEA students places to gather during lunch and breaks, and GEA students took the initiative to start several lunchtime clubs.
The GEA works closely with Las Positas Community College, Laney College, the Tri-Valley Educational Collaborative, the Livermore Valley Education Foundation, Chevron, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratory, the Contra Costa Economic Partnership, the Contra Costa Council, the Alameda County Office of Education, Career Academy Support Networks, Waste Management, Livermore Wastewater Facility, and Sunpower to build a network of support for students. These partners provide funding, materials, mentors, summer internships, and various educational opportunities. This close tie to the community enriches the lives of our GEA students and provides them with opportunities beyond high school.
This year, 95% of the GEA seniors meet the CSU/UC a-g requirements, and the average GPA of GEA seniors is 3.59. No students have been removed from the program due to poor performance, and all GEA seniors are on track to graduate. This is due to monitoring, interventions and supports for the struggling students.
Since the inception of the GEA, state testing in California has significantly changed. Originally, the academy monitored performance on CAHSEE and CST proficiency to assess performance in our cohorts. Now, the nine GEA teachers collaboratively monitor SBAC data and also use a more organic way of assessing student performance. Most GEA students are successful due to the use of interventions, study hall, and specially designed classes which increase student participation and engagement. Grades are carefully monitored all trimester long and students who slip below a C in any class are brought in for special tutoring sessions which are required as per our behavioral contract with the students.
The classroom performance of all of our GEA students is closely monitored by the GEA team to determine where instruction needs to be adjusted. Additionally, on the micro level, the GEA team meets weekly to review individual student progress and collaborates on ways to provide additional support to the student in the form of interventions, motivation, and encouragement. Individual PSAT and SAT results are also analyzed, with instruction and interventions adjusted accordingly.
The GEA team analyzes the data submitted to the CPA program each year. The CDE also conducts a review of the data and points out any areas where improvement is required. Based on their own analysis and input from the CDE, the GEA team collaborates on ways to implement changes to the program. Examples of past improvement include expansion of the after-school tutoring program to include our own professional tutor, a system to ensure students go to tutoring, and teacher/student conferences to ensure progress. We instituted an effective middle-school recruitment program by going to the middle schools and publicizing our program and recruiting students. We created a 9th-grade Algebra 1 Robotics course which allows students to better understand math through the application of hands-on activities with robots. Students have responded positively to this enhancement of the academy math options.
Beyond quantitative data, students and parents provide qualitative feedback to the GEA team and site administrators. One student stated, "I will be the first child in my family to graduate from college as I want to become a mechanical engineer." A large percentage of last year's graduates stated that they believe they may not have graduated without the support of the GEA.