Step to College - The Urban Teacher Pipeline

The Step to College (STC) Program is one of the projects emerging from the efforts of scholars at EEI. STC is a collaborative effort between Oasis High School (Oakland, CA) and the Colleges of Education and Ethnic Studies at San Francisco State University (SFSU). STC students are high school seniors who take courses that train them in critical thinking, academic literacy, and technology, as well as other college preparatory courses for which they receive up to twelve (12) units of transferable credit from SFSU. The courses are taught by a university faculty member in an effort to familiarize historically under-represented urban students with the format and structure of university courses. Students who participate in the program also receive help filling out university applications for admissions and financial aid, and when possible, scholarship support.

The current cohort of Step to College students at Oasis High School consists of 6 African American females, 5 African American males, 7 Latinas, 7 Latinos (25 total students). The short-term aim of the program is to increase the high school graduation and college admission rates of these historically disadvantaged students.

The long-term goal of this project is to extend the cohort model into the university lives of those students that are interested in returning to the Oakland community as classroom teachers. Under this model, we estimate that up to 12 of the Step to College students will join the first cohort of the Urban Teacher Pipeline. These students will attend San Francisco State University together, receiving financial and mentorship support during their undergraduate and teacher credential process. Each student will receive a scholarship, a laptop computer, and will participate in regular cohort activities throughout their time at the university. These activities will help to maintain their existing social network, as well as provide them support to meet the challenges unique to first generation college students of color. To provide them training for their careers as classroom teachers, they will also be partnered with master teachers in the community and begin their training as classroom teachers as early as their sophomore year in college. Upon completion of their undergraduate degree and teacher credentialing at SFSU, they will be given full-time teaching placements back in the communities where they attended school.

Why an urban teacher pipeline?
Less than 28% of California's public school teachers are people of color. However, more than 70% of the state's K-12 public school enrollees are students of color. Two likely causes for this glaring and persistent disparity are: 1) the lack of college access for students of color; and 2) the absence of an explicit teacher pipeline for students of color to return to their communities as teachers. The Step to College Program and the Urban Teacher Pipeline combine as an 8-year project committed to supporting young people from Oakland through high school and the university, while encouraging them to return to the community as K-12 public school teachers.

Project Outline
Phase One (2005-2008)-The project began in the 2005-2006 school year with a group of 30 10th grade students at an East Oakland high school. In their second and third years (2006-08) students cross-enrolled in a high school Sociology course (11th grade) and AP English course (12th grade), respectively, and freshman seminars at SFSU. The goal in phase one is to send 100% of the students to a 4-year university. Recently, work from this phase led to a new partnership between the Educational Equity Initiative ( and the TEAMS Program (an AmeriCorps funded urban teacher development program), as well as a renewed partnership between TEAMS and SFSU's College of Education.

Phase Two (2008-2013)-Phase two begins with continuing students that enroll in the urban teacher cohort at San Francisco State University in 2008. These students will be mentored by SFSU faculty and matriculate through SFSU as a cohort, receiving on-going academic and social support from the project and their peers in the cohort. Students will enroll in cohort classes that prepare them for teaching in urban schools, as well as courses for their chosen majors. They will also work in local urban schools, and at the start of their junior years they will begin as apprentice teachers under the guidance of a master teacher of their choosing. Ultimately, they will matriculate through the SFSU Teacher Credential Program and return to Oakland as K-12 teachers.


Investigator: Dr. Jeffrey Duncan Andrade