Rural Schools Ready to Expand College Connections
When debating small performance gains and big achievement gaps, urban areas often dominate the public discussion. However, all schools across the state, regardless of location, struggle to ensure that every student receives a high-quality education and graduates college ready. To provide some additional support, CELL soon will work with some of Indiana’s rural schools to help connect more students to college.
In June, CELL will launch the New Schools Workshop to expand the implementation of the Early College High School model into small, rural schools. This year’s participating schools, which include Bellmont Senior High School, Lawrenceburg High School and Westville High School, will serve as models for successful and sustainable Early College High School implementation.
While the Early College model can be adopted at any school, its target audience has made it popular in many urban school districts because it is designed to increase college readiness and attainment among low-income youth, first-generation college students, English language learners, and students of color—all of whom are underrepresented in higher education. However, urban school districts are not the only ones that see low college-going rates among students.
Many rural schools, including two of the ones participating in the New Schools Workshop, face college matriculation rates that lag almost 10 to 25 percent behind high school graduation rates.
“Although Early College has traditionally been considered an urban model, rural students are underrepresented in higher education as well,” Todd Hurst, school development coordinator for CELL, explained.
Indiana, which has a high concentration of rural schools, cannot afford to let this disparity persist.
“It’s possible that in Indiana we have more rural schools than we do urban ones,” Lynn Lupold, fellow for high school networks with CELL, said. “We had to find a way to support rural schools so that we can improve outcomes for the maximum number of Indiana students.”
During the New Schools Workshop, participants will receive three days of training and guidance in the seven Early College Core Practices from seasoned Early College High School professionals. More specifically, current Early College administrators will address such topics as best practices for student success, developing an Early College curriculum and plan of study, creating a college-going school culture, and fostering collaboration and successful partnerships between schools and higher education institutions.
This rigorous training will ensure that each new school’s implementation of Early College High School is both successful and sustainable, thus providing a strong example for other emerging or established Early College High Schools throughout the state.
“These schools will model Early College High School in a way that we can share across the state to foster increased success for all students,” Hurst said.
The workshop also will enable these schools, which often are isolated from other Early College programs and higher education institutions, to develop their own network of support.
“This is a way to provide rural schools with a network of critical friends,” Lupold said. “After this workshop, we will see a change in the way people think about Early College High School across the state.”