Should High Schools focus on college experience over college prep?

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundations Early College High School Initiative has supported the creation or redesign of nearly 300 schools that serve more than 80,000 students in 31 states and the District of Columbia since 2002. Even more schools and districts have taken on this early college high school design challenge outside the auspices of the Gates Foundation. The exact design of these schools varies based on partnerships between schools and local colleges, but the foundational concept is that students can graduate from high school with a college credential as well.

The Pathways in Technology Early College High School, or P-TECH, model, which President Barack Obama mentioned in his 2012 State of the Union address, keeps students in high school for six years as they work through high school and college coursework and industry internships on their way to graduation. This model has been replicated by more than 40 schools since it first opened in New York City in 2011 and has become one of the most well-known early college high school models in the nation.

The Greater Educational Opportunities Foundation supports an alternative model in its work incubating charter schools.

The 21st Century Charter School in Gary, IN, has a bare bones high school curriculum, pushing students to attend classes at Ivy Tech Community College as soon as they can pass the entrance exams. Instead of hiring advanced math and English teachers or filling out its course catalog with specials, 21st Century Charter offers the basic high school curriculum and, from there, supports students as they complete college coursework for dual credit.

We think its important that our kids actually get the college campus experience, said Kevin Teasley, founder and president of the GEO Foundation.

Every student at 21st Century Charter qualifies for free or reduced-price lunch, a measure of poverty. According to Teasley, only 10% of them come from homes where someone has a college degree. That puts them at a disadvantage in the college-going process, which is reflected in the completion rates of first-generation college students. And that forms one basis for the dual enrollment model.

We want them to have whatever challenge theyre going to have while theyre with us, Teasley said.

The charter school serves about 400 high schoolers. Students generally take one or two classes per week at the school in a block schedule and they spend the rest of their time at the community college. Eighth grade graduates are expected to pass Ivy Techs entrance exams, and if they dont, high school teachers help coach them to pass it during their freshman year.

As far as finances go, the charter school pays for each students tuition at the college, with no discounts. It is economical for the high school, which spares the expense of hiring as many teachers as traditional programs.

One student, Raven Osborne, is on her way to completing a four-year degree by the time she is scheduled to graduate from high school. She has been attending Purdue Universitys satellite campus in northwest Indiana for the last two years after completing her associate degree coursework as a sophomore.

21st Century Charter School encourages students to take college classes over the summer, which Osborne did after eighth, ninth and 10th grade. The charter school has continued paying for her college tuition as she works toward a bachelors degree, which she is expected to get this May, even before she walks the stage with the rest of her high school peers.

As the nation debates the feasibility of giving students access to free college, Teasley said his students already have it. Most students graduate with at least one semester under their belts and the goal for 21st Century Charter is to get 100% of students graduating with their associate degree as well as high school diploma in four years by 2020. That gives them a head start toward their bachelors degrees.

Already, 60% of the predominantly black graduating class of 2012 has completed a bachelors degree within four years, Teasley said, compared to about 20% of black students nationwide and an even smaller portion of poor black students.

For his population, especially, Teasley finds it important to graduate high school seniors not only college-prepared, but college-experienced. He sees the traditional high school push to get more students into Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate classes as misguided.

Start measuring worth based on how many students are graduating with real college experience, Teasley said. Stop measuring success with the number of AP courses offered.

Figuring out the kinks of an early college model can be difficult. But schools like P-TECH and 21st Century Charter stand as ready examples of the value of trying.

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GEO Prep Academy utilizará el sistema en línea EnrollBR para el proceso de inscripción 2021-2022. EnrollBR es un proceso de solicitud común que brinda ayuda a las familias con la correcta elección de la escuela que satisfará las necesidades que sus hijos tengan. Los padres deben seguir las instrucciones a continuación para registrarse para el año escolar 2020-2021.

  1. Haga clic aquí para ir directamente a EnrollBR y comenzar su aplicación.
  2. Necesitará una dirección de correo electrónico. Si no tiene uno, aquí le brendaremos instrucciones para ayudarlo a configurar una cuenta de gmail de Google. Haga clic aquí
  3. Para obtener instrucciones sobre cómo completar la solicitud de inscripción ante de, Haga clic aquí

Para el año escolar 2020-2021, GEO Prep Academy inscribirá los grados K – 8o. Las escuelas están ubicadas en:

  • Grados K-2do – 4006 Platt, Baton Rouge, LA 70814
  • 3ro – 8vo Grados – 2311 N. Sherwood Forest Dr., Baton Rouge, LA 70815

Para obtener información sobre cómo inscribirse en el actual año escolar, comuníquese con la escuela. Se puede contactar a ambas escuelas al número (225) 927-1500.

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Grade Level

GEO Prep Academy will be utilizing the EnrollBR online system for the 2021-2022 enrollment process. EnrollBR is a common application process that assists families with school choice to meet the needs of their child(ren). Parents should follow the below directions to register for the 2020-2021 school year.

  1. Click Here to go directly to EnrollBR and begin your application.
  2. You will need an email address. If you do not have one, there are instructions to help you set up a Google Gmail Account. Click here
  3. For instructions on completing the enrollment application beforehand, Click Here

For the 2020-2021 school year, GEO Prep Academy will be enrolling grades K – 8. The schools are located at:

  • K-2nd Grades – 4006 Platt, Baton Rouge, LA 70814
  • 3rd – 8th Grades – 2311 N. Sherwood Forest Dr., Baton Rouge, LA 70815

For information on enrolling this current school year, please contact the school. Both schools can be contacted at (225) 927-1500.