Matt Alley understands a fundamental truth about the world in 2013: It’s constantly changing. To meet the challenge, Alley, a second-year counselor at Lapeer East High School, knows schools must adapt to ensure students are prepared for what comes next.
Alley is a strong proponent of ramping up Lapeer Community Schools’ capacity to offer high-achieving students low-cost college courses while they are still in high school. As part of the District’s strategic plan, in the near future one quarter of all high school students will graduate with at least 12 college credits.
Policy wonks call it dual enrollment; we call it a great opportunity for our kids.
“Dual enrollment allows our students the opportunity to bridge a critical transitional gap in exploring their 13th year of academia,” Alley said. “Not only is this a cost-efficient method of obtaining college credit, it more importantly allows students to gauge college coursework, curriculum and their own ability to independently prepare prior to enrolling with a full-time college schedule. It’s an intangible resource needed for today’s college student.”
The plan will leverage the resources we have right here in our community, including Mott Community College and University of Michigan-Flint, to provide students with the academic rigor they will need to excel in college and beyond; and they won’t even have to leave the District to get it.
LCS superintendent Matt Wandrie recently spoke to a group of student leaders from East, West and Community about the prospect of leaving high school with a leg up on their peers.
“The feedback I received from students was overwhelmingly positive,” Wandrie said. “Our students are excited about choices, and we’re excited about providing them.”
One student, a senior, actually expressed some disappointment about missing out on the opportunity.
“How many times have you heard a student in the winter of their senior year say they wish they could stay in high school another year?” Wandrie said.
Wandrie is confident that high school students in the District are ready for increased rigor, and that the principle underlying dual enrollment also relates to younger students.
“If we have a freshman who’s prepared to take on the challenge of higher-level math, we’re not going to hold this student back,” he said. “From an academic standpoint, we’re more concerned about aptitude than age.”
Perhaps the most marketable facet of the plan is its simplicity. Students will be able to take college-level courses in our existing facilities. Recently, LCS entered into articulation agreements with Mott and UM-Flint to start the process that we believe will culminate in the achievement of the above-mentioned ambitious goal: One quarter of graduates leaving our district with at least 12 college credits.
“This program will challenge students earlier in their careers as students and will put them at a decided advantage over many of their peers,” Wandrie said. “Every year college tuition gets more expensive and programs like this one make even more sense for students and their families.”
UM-Flint’s Dual Enrollment Education Partnership (DEEP) has at its core a belief that in-depth dual enrollment courses will prepare students for the academic expectations they will encounter when they enter college. It’s a partnership that fits snugly into the District’s long-term vision of providing innovative choices to students at all levels.
“This is an amazing value for families,” said Ron Reed, LCS Executive Director of Secondary Education. “Students will be able to pursue the goal of college credit without the barriers of transportation or space in the schedule as major factors.”
Students who successfully complete these courses will have credits on an official transcript at the partner school, no different than if they were enrolled on campus as freshmen. The details of the costs to students are yet to be determined. LCS hopes to reduce the cost as much as possible for families.
For more information, visit LapeerSchools.org.