Teaching Profession Opinion

Building a K-16 International Education Pipeline: The ‘Long Beach Promise’

By Richard R. Marcus & Tim Keirn — October 27, 2016 6 min read
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International education and equity in education are not mutually exclusive; rather, they go hand-in-hand. Richard R. Marcus, Professor and Director of The Global Studies Institute and the International Studies Program, and Tim Keirn, Full-Time Lecturer in History and Education, Director of the Yadunandan Center for India Studies, and Coordinator of the University Single Subject Credential Program at California State University, Long Beach explore how the university has unified the renowned ‘Long Beach Promise’ with efforts to develop global competence in its students.

Long Beach, California, is one of the country’s most diverse cities and serves as a national model for K-12, community college, and university pipelining. The Long Beach College Promise was founded in 2008 to build a culture of education in the community. Students are exposed to the importance of higher education starting in the 4th grade. Over 8,000 students in the Long Beach Unified School District (LBUSD) have received one year of free tuition at Long Beach Community College (LBCC), one of the benefits of the Long Beach Promise.

California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) receives over 90,000 applications each year with only the space to enroll about 10 percent of that number. CSULB guarantees admission to LBUSD graduates who meet eligibility requirements for their major, ensuring regional access to one of the highest ranked regional comprehensive universities in the country. The model has served as backbone for the California College Promise and America’s College Promise Act of 2015, cited at length in the U.S. Department of Education’s America’s College Promise Playbook.

An Internationalization Renaissance
This is the context under which the comprehensive internationalization renaissance is taking place at CSULB. International education is necessarily dynamic, part of a broader effort to consider the transformative nature of the university experience and the preparation of students for their roles as citizens and employees. Significant strides have been made on campus to serve the mission to be a globally engaged university committed to educating students from a global perspective. New efforts are underway to engage community college and K-12 partners to ensure preparation for international coursework and create complementary global learning outcomes. Some of these efforts have already seen success, some are in process, and others require new effort and rethinking.

By the fall of 2012, international education entered the campus mission and strategic plan as part of academic success, thereby providing opportunities to integrate it with other campus programming goals. Innovative programs and tools followed, including the creation of the Global Studies Institute an endowed, Title VI-funded Center. An international course articulation mechanism was developed, a global capstone course requirement was strengthened, and global learning outcomes were associated with written and oral communication and critical thinking within general education.

A Short History of Global K-12 Curriculum
Concurrently, CSULB was working through existing K-12 relationships on global learning outcomes - an endeavor that has historically proven difficult. Attempts to internationalize K-12 education at the end of the 20th century were for the most part not very successful. World geography and foreign language for English speakers were not established as mandatory courses of study in most states.

World history was an exception and was established as a required course of study in secondary schools in the influential California History-Social Science Framework in 1988 and it is now situated in a similar curricular position in the vast majority of states. Since it was established in 2001, Advanced Placement World History (APWH) has been the fastest growing course ever introduced by the College Board. However, APWH aside, the world history courses established in most state curricula are not global and instead are either Eurocentric or represent civilizations and regions in complete isolation from each other.

Working with Long Beach Unified School District (LBUSD)
CSULB has the largest secondary History-Social Science Teacher Credentialing Program (HSSCP) in California and one of the largest in the nation. The CSULB HSSCP is committed to subject matter preparation that is grounded in current historiography of world history and focused on preparing teachers to teach through historical thinking frames such as comparison, connectivity, and continuity and change that scaffold and promote the understanding of world history with a global perspective.

Virtually all history teachers recently hired by LBUSD have come through this program and HSCCP faculty regularly provide in-service professional development for all world history teachers in the district. Thus most local students coming to CSULB have increasingly studied world history from a global perspective. Moreover, the district has expanded its AP course offerings by 84 percent since 2012, and the number of LBUSD students coming to CSULB with AP World History credit (and global historical understanding) has increased concomitantly. AP program expansion in LBUSD has also increased the number of local students coming to CSULB with AP credit in other courses with international content, including comparative government, human geography, Spanish literature, Spanish language and culture, Chinese language and culture, and Japanese language and culture.

Like so many states, California has sought to increase dual enrollment opportunities for students. Assembly Bill 288 established the College and Career Pathways Act that aims to bridge K-12 and college curricula. Nearly 50,000 students graduating from high school in 2016 took at least one college course, an increase of 56 percent from 2012-13, and that number is expected to increase dramatically. The programming follows studies demonstrating high school students enrolling in college and/or AP courses are more likely to earn high school degrees and to enroll, and persist, in four-year colleges.

CSULB has a relationship with a new STEM magnet high school, SATO Academy, offering engineering and Chinese language classes to high school students. A new Young Scholars Program allows LBUSD students from across district high schools to earn up to four units of college credit each semester. There are additional efforts, including CSULB ethnic studies departments offering high school courses in the district for university credit that link to ethnic studies learning outcomes at the university.

Vertical curricular alignment, as well as pre-service and in-service teacher preparation between CSULB and LBUSD teachers, has been an important means for internationalizing the experience of high school students before they even arrive at university. However, the pipelining of LBUSD students to CSULB, and the situating of the credit and placement of their international learning, has posed some difficulties.

Despite the excitement, there are challenges. In particular, dual enrollment has blurred the line of faculty preparation and, in contrast to AP, suffers from a dearth of regular norming of levels and learning outcomes. The funding streams are often obfuscated, and, in an institution like CSULB where every major is impacted, there are enrollment management questions.

CSULB is nonetheless moving forward rapidly, particularly in areas not served by AP, and international education is part of this planning. There are three large LBUSD high schools with Linked Learning international pathways and efforts are underway to create complementary programming where foreign language acquisition is central to the pathway. Language offerings and global learning outcomes are increasingly on the docket for discussion as the university, college, and school district look toward how to create the most effective pathways possible for student attainment of global competency to enter their professions in this globalized world.

Connect with Richard and Heather on Twitter.

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The opinions expressed in Global Learning are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.


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