WAGU Updates & Information

Here are some February 2016 updates for Washington State GEAR UP programs.

February 2016 | Reminders to All Schools

Assessment Requirements

At our May 2015 meeting, we agreed to change our requirements for pre-college assessments (ACT, SAT, ACCUPLACER, Compass, ASVAB).

  • OLD Requirement: 80% of GEAR UP students take the ACT by 12th grade.
  • NEW Requirement: 80% of GEAR UP students take one or more pre-college assessments in either the 11th or 12th grade.
  • Fee waiver information can be found here:

Reporting Assessment Participation

  • All assessments completed (ACT, SAT, ACCUPLACER, Compass, ASVAB), whether GEAR UP pays for it or not, must be entered in the portal. This is the only method we have of tracking your compliance with this requirement.
  • In the portal:
    • Enter assessments for each day they are offered for your students.
    • If the assessment is offered on multiple days, create a multi-day activity.
    • Enter the actual number of hours the test is offered, the standard hours it is expected to take to complete. You do not need to adjust this by individual student.
    • Name the activity – use the name of the assessment only. For example, ACT, SAT, ACCUPLACER, Compass, or ASVAB. Do not add any other information to the activity name. For example, do not name the activity “Grays Harbor College Placement Test”, or “BBCC Compass”.
    • The Activity Type is “Tests/Test Prep”, always.

AP Testing

  • GEAR UP will pay for AP test fees. However these conditions apply:
  • Schools must have it in their budget.
  • We will reimburse the OSPI subsidized rate for F/R eligible students – regardless of what the school or student actually paid. OSPI will post the rate here when it is available.  http://www.k12.wa.us/AdvancedPlacement/testfee.aspx)
  • We will pay the full fee for non F/R eligible students, unless the school has another available subsidy.
  • Proper documentation is a must. The bill sent to WSAC must include each student’s name, grade level, and the fee they were charged for the test (even if another source paid it). It must also include the name of the test the student took.
  • Additionally, all students who have AP tests paid for by GEAR UP must be entered in the portal. Name the activity “AP Test – (insert subject area)”. We will not reimburse if this information is missing.
  • The Activity Type is “Tests/Test Prep”, always.

Annual Department of Education Surveys

Some good news! We will not be doing the Department of Education Surveys this year. One less thing on your spring TO DO list.

College Visits

As a reminder, we expect that students have meaningful college visits. At a minimum, this means:

  1. A campus tour, preferably by the college’s admissions department, visitation program, or other on campus entity that regularly provides this service.
  2. A visit with financial aid, admissions, and student services departments. Students need to know what to expect, how to prepare, and what is available to them once they are on campus.
  3. A classroom experience, to understand what it means to sit in on a lecture, or participate in a college level class. When this is not possible, time with a professor or graduate student instructor is acceptable.
  4. Time with current college students to ask questions, a former student from your school is ideal when possible.
  5. If you are going overnight, it is acceptable to do a recreational activity on the college campus, in the evening to ensure the students are engaged in safe activities. Pre-approval is required. No other recreational activities will be approved, and one day or less visits are not allowed to spend GEAR UP funds on a recreational activity.

At this point, students need information that will help them make the best decision possible about postsecondary education. Doing a “drive by” college visit, a visit on a weekend, or a visit when school is not in session usually does not allow for a meaningful visit. Remember, our goal with visits is to help students make the best choice possible. When they don’t have meaningful visit, they do not have the information they need to do so.

Naming Family Events

When naming family events (in the portal), please remember to include the topic in the name. For example, “Family Night – Paying for College” or “Family Night – College Planning” gives us the information we need. “Family Night” doesn’t tell us what is being covered.

Annual Performance Report

Our program’s Annual Performance Report is due to the Department of Education in April. Your responsibility in this is to make sure all portal activity is entered, accurate, and complete.

  • By March 15: Make sure all activity from August 1 through March 15 is entered.
  • March 15-31: Enter activities DAILY.
  • March 31: Portal will close to all activity for August 1 through March 31. You will not be able to add, delete, or edit activities or students after this date.

Every year, we have at least a few of you who forget to enter activities during March. The result? We lose the opportunity to ever report those activities. Let’s all do our very best to ensure GEAR UP is getting full credit for the amazing work you are doing.

Also, during this time, please be especially prompt in responding to Kelly’s requests for corrections and clarification. Remember, she has 33 schools to manage and make sure everything is correct in a very short window of time. We appreciate your helpful replies during this time!

New Field Trip Guidance

Lori created some field trip FAQs. It will be posted to gearup.wa.gov soon. Watch for it! Nothing has changed, but felt like we had enough frequent questions it was worth putting it all in one place.