Early College Q & A: Lupold Addresses Model's Challenges
The Early College High School model is reshaping education for students in schools across the state. Lynn Lupold, CELL’s fellow for high school networks in charge of the Early College initiative, works with these schools to ensure their success. Having traveled the state to answer questions and guide implementation of the model, Lupold sat down to address the most common challenges school face in adopting the Early College model.
There are a significant number of high schools that would like to implement Early College, but they are located so far from a higher education institution that students cannot access the college campus. Therefore, college-level courses have to be offered at the high school location. For this to work, high school teachers must get credentialed as adjunct college professors, which requires meeting very specific qualifications. Usually it’s a master’s degree with 18 content hours, but each institution has different requirements.
It is important that very early in the implementation process, administrators discuss teacher credentialing. Early College High Schools must have the human and financial resources to provide students with college-like experiences which enable them to earn significant college credits. To ensure their school has that capacity, administrators should review current teachers’ credentials and discuss with the potential higher education partner the availability and requirements of any teacher credentialing programs.
Early College vs. Dual Credit
Contrary to popular belief, there is a huge difference between Early College and dual credit programs. Early College High Schools offer courses that build pathways for students to earn associate degrees during high school. Dual credit programs are more random—there are no clear pathways or goals; rather, students just collect college credits.
To develop a thorough understanding of what Early College truly is, individuals should consult the CELL and Jobs for the Future Web sites. It would also be a good idea to touch base with Indiana’s endorsed Early College High Schools.
Since the Early College model necessitates such clearly defined pathways, it is important that administrators and higher education partners clearly articulate their plans for course offerings. All courses must meet the requirements of both the Core 40 high school diploma and the corresponding college certificate.
Partners can ensure alignment of their course offerings by identifying which courses will only count for high school or college credit, and which ones will count for both. It also would be helpful to generate ideas for course offerings from currently endorsed Early College High Schools and their partner higher education institutions.
One of the most important aspects of the Early College model is the partnership between the high school and higher education institution. It is vital that partners build a strong relationship based in fluidity. In order to achieve a strong bond, partners must be willing to treat their relationship as a constant work in progress.
The quality of the relationship depends heavily upon the leadership at each school. Administrators at both levels must find ways to stay actively and continually involved in the development of Early College. A good way to accomplish this is by appointing a liaison at each institution that focuses on the day-to-day activities of the program.
Early College High School is becoming increasingly popular with institutions looking to improve success rates among their students. To ensure fidelity and successful implementation of the model, it is important that administrators and educators address their questions and concerns.