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The Education Innovator #23
Volume III
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The Education Innovator
 June 20, 2005 • Number 23
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Feature
Bard High School Early College
What's New
Secretary Spellings praises House action on Teacher Merit Pay and Pell Grants; the U.S. Department of Education's What Works Clearinghouse issues "Registry of Outcome Evaluators;" Education News Parents Can Use airs a program on service learning; Presidential Academies for American History and Civics Education grant competition announced; Assistant Deputy Secretary Nina S. Rees speaks at the Arts Education Partnership June Forum and the Association of Educational Publishers conference; FREE website provides schools and teachers with materials about the Constitution; and the Educational Facilities Financing Center (EFFC) of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) releases The Charter School Facility Finance Landscape.
Innovations in the News
American history teachers in Texas participate in a Teaching American History grant project, plus information about charter schools, choice, and early college high schools.

Two Years of High School and Six of College: The Early College Model
"I like to come out of my classes knowing that I learned something."

—Student at Bard High School Early College

Off a winding road in the countryside that inspired The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, and near Clermont Academy, the first public school in New York State, lies a cluster of ivy-covered stone and brick buildings alongside an arts center crowned with a roof of silver waves. These waves signal a transition between the past and the future for Bard College and education as a whole. Bard has created a wave of education reform by bringing the resources of the bucolic college campus in Annandale-on-Hudson (NY) to the teeming streets of Manhattan's Lower East Side through the "early college high school."

Bard High School Early College (BHSEC) was established in June 2001 by the New York City Department of Education and Bard College, as the first early college high school in New York State. BHSEC prepares students to finish their high school courses and the required New York State Regents exams in two years and then enter into college-level studies. As Leon Botstein, president of Bard College, notes in his book Jefferson's Children, schools can be restructured to reflect the realities of modern childhood, interjecting intellectual vigor and inquiry that is often missing in the latter years of high school. About Bard High School, Botstein often muses, "Why not challenge high school students to begin thinking like college students, and begin college after tenth grade with two years of high school and six years of college?"

Bard High School Early College is part of a growing number of hybrid schools that accelerate the high school experience to move motivated students into the more rigorous college content. As of 2004, there were 8,030 students enrolled in 46 early college high schools throughout the nation. By 2008, 170 schools are anticipated to open, serving approximately 68,000 students in four years. Of the schools that are already established, 63 percent are traditional public, 30 percent are charter, and 6 percent are either contract or magnet schools. At these schools, students participate in rigorous and accelerated curricula, simultaneously earning a high school diploma and an Associate's degree, or two years of college credit toward a Bachelor's degree.

Early college high schools are designed to support young people who have been traditionally under-represented in postsecondary education, such as students who have not had access to the academic preparation needed to meet college readiness standards, students for whom the cost of college is prohibitive, minority students, and English language learners. These schools are founded on the belief that disadvantaged students will be motivated to excel through intellectual challenges and academic rigor, rather than remediation.

Bard High School Early College is one of these schools, with one distinction: it is also a public/private partnership. Bard High School Early College is a public school that requires no tuition from students for the credits that are earned from the private college.

The school is open to all New York City residents who are entering either ninth or tenth grade, and enrollment is limited to approximately 540 students. Admission is based on a transcript review, writing sample, and interview. Qualified students with a B+ grade average participate in writing and math assessments to determine their skills in both subjects. If students' assessments, grades, and teacher recommendations are strong, they proceed to the final step in the admission process where Bard High School Early College staff members interview them.

The school has 45 percent white, 30 percent African-American, 13 percent Hispanic, 12 percent Asian, and 1 percent Native American students. Students come from all five boroughs of New York city; 40 percent are eligible for free and reduced lunch programs; and 25 percent speak English as a second language. These students already show evidence of having closed the achievement gap in their middle school years by sustaining the 85 percent grade average required for admission into the high school. For the 2003-2004 academic year, the high school received about 4,000 applications for 135 openings.

At the end of four years, BHSEC students have completed 60 college credits and receive an Associate of Arts degree in the liberal arts and sciences from Bard College, as well as a New York State Regents diploma. Teachers prepare BHSEC students for the transition to college-level work through an intensive focus on developing their writing and critical thinking skills.

Each September, the academic year begins with a weeklong workshop focused on writing and thinking, patterned after courses from Bard College's Institute for Writing and Thinking and Simon's Rock College of Bard (the earlier prototype of the high school/early college model). The workshop is a text-based experience in which students write in response to a broad range of literature and participate in discussion during college-like seminars. In each class, teachers generally do not use textbooks, but rather select a collection of challenging pieces for students to read, similar to the way professors create syllabi for college courses. Most classes are organized around discussion and debate based on students' readings.

A recent BHSEC graduate notes, "Teachers lead our class discussions and treat students from the beginning like we are in college. This creates an environment where students have to meet high standards; and we want to meet them."

Students view BHSEC teachers as experts in their field. Most teachers hold doctorate degrees, and most elective classes are taught by regular Ph.D. faculty. Some teachers come to the school from New York public high schools, while others are experienced college professors with special interest in working with younger students. The school encourages its teachers to conduct research and stay active in their fields of expertise. For example, music teachers often perform in symphonies, art teachers exhibit their work, and other teachers publish studies, books, and articles, much like Leon Botstein himself, who is not only Bard's president, but also director and principal conductor of the American Symphony Orchestra. Even the administrators are directly involved with teaching and learning; four out of the six teach courses at the school. Raymond Peterson, the school's principal and former director of the Bard Institute for Writing and Thinking, instructs a sophomore English class in which he requires his students to read Freud and Virginia Woolf.

Challenging coursework is a hallmark of the early college program. The BHSEC curriculum addresses all subjects covered by the New York State Regents examinations, but extends its offerings to include college classes covering topics such as finite mathematics, neuroscience, geotechnical engineering, and Italian Renaissance art. Students attend 50-minute class periods as well as some 75-minute classes, which are usually reserved for electives, independent study, and laboratory work. Faculty members have office hours during the week, much as professors on college campuses do. Faculty members also hold tutorial sessions and advisory meetings, during which students discuss their academic progress.

Overall, students are proving to be successful both in school and after they graduate. The New York State Regents examinations reflect that in 2003, 95 percent of students passed the English section and 88 percent passed the math section. The first two classes to graduate from BHSEC in June 2003 and 2004 are now enrolled in some of the most prestigious colleges and universities in the nation, including Harvard, Brown, Pennsylvania State, Stanford, and New York University, as well as Bard College.

Although Bard High School Early College is labeled a "high school," it was awarded a grant in 2002 from the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) by the U.S. Department of Education. It also is supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The nationwide Early College High School Initiative receives funding from the Gates Foundation, as well as the Carnegie and W.K. Kellogg Foundations.

Resources: Note: The featured program is innovative and interesting; however, it does not yet have evidence of effectiveness from a rigorous evaluation.

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What's New
From the U.S. Department of Education

U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings praised the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee's vote on a bill that includes merit pay for educators and increased funding for Pell Grants. The House Appropriations Committee approved a $100 million Teacher Incentive Fund and an increase in individual Pell Grants. (June 17)

The U.S. Department of Education created the What Works Clearinghouse at the Institute of Education Sciences in 2002 to provide accessible databases and reports about replicable educational interventions. Recently the What Works Clearinghouse announced the "Registry of Outcome Evaluators," which will provide users with the opportunity to search for evaluators who conduct research on the effects of educational interventions. (June 8)

Education News Parents Can Use, the U.S. Department of Education's monthly television program and webcast aired on June 21, showcasing service learning and volunteerism. Considered to be a way to instill the values of citizenship and compassion in students, service learning can also be a way for students to apply their academic skills, knowledge, and interests for the greater good of their communities.

From the Office of Innovation and Improvement (OII)

OII will administer a new grant program, Presidential Academies for American History and Civics Education. The program supports workshops for both veteran and new teachers of American history and civics to strengthen their knowledge and preparation for teaching these subjects. The deadline for transmittal of applications is August 5, 2005. (June 21)

Assistant Deputy Secretary Nina S. Rees will welcome participants to the Arts Education Partnership June Forum, download files PDF (75KB), which will be held at the U.S. Department of Education headquarters in Washington, DC. The theme of the forum is "The Arts, Adolescents, and High School Redesign." The Arts Education Partnership is supported by OII and the National Endowment for the Arts. (June 24-25)

Assistant Deputy Secretary Rees spoke as a panel member at the 2005 Association of Educational Publishers Conference during its Focus Forward Town Hall Meeting. Panelists discussed education and policy trends that will affect the education publishing industry in the next five years. (June 8)

American History

Looking for information about the U.S. Constitution? To help schools and teachers educate students about the U.S. Constitution, Federal Resources for Educational Excellence (FREE) offers references for teaching and learning about the historic document. Included on the website are essays, timelines, and 300 topics related to the Constitution. (June 15)

Charter Schools

The Educational Facilities Financing Center (EFFC) of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) published The Charter School Facility Finance Landscape, a survey of private nonprofit and public providers of funding and financing for charter school facilities. The report also highlights two public-private partnerships in Indianapolis and Massachusetts, along with other public initiatives. (June 16)

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Innovations in the News

American History
Imagine having a front row seat for a debate between Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry. American history and social studies teachers from Waco (TX) don't have to stretch their imaginations far to see historical figures come to life. These teachers are attending a three-week institute this summer at Baylor University as part of an OII-funded Teaching American History project. Among the professional development activities, teachers attend simulated debates featuring historians and scholars who portray historical figures. [More-Waco Tribune-Herald] (June 10)

Charter Schools
June 10, 2005 was a landmark day for 63 students in Washington, DC. KIPP DC: KEY Academy graduated its first class. KIPP (the Knowledge Is Power Program) was created in 1994 in Houston (TX) by two Teach For America alumni. Since that time, KIPP has expanded to include 38 schools in 15 states and Washington, DC. Half of the KIPP KEY (Knowledge Empowers You) Academy's graduating students will travel to boarding schools or comparably elite private high schools in the fall. The other half will attend high schools in or around DC. [More-The Houston Chronicle] (June 10)

Edison Schools, an education management organization that partners with public schools and districts across the country, reports that all of its New York State-based schools have shown improvement on the New York Statewide Testing Program (NYSTP) in the area of English Language Arts. One of Edison's highest performing schools in New York is Harriet Tubman Charter School in the Bronx. Harriet Tubman fourth grade students increased their scores by 22 percent in one year, compared to the average 10 percent gain by the New York City School District. The school received more good news recently from the U.S. Department of Education, with a grant from the No Child Left Behind Improving Literacy Through School Libraries program. [More-Yahoo Finance] (June 14)

Richland College (TX) plans to open a charter high school on its Abrams Road campus. The school would be the first such charter high school in the state. Officials at Richland note that their goal is to serve high-achieving students of all races and economic backgrounds who are more likely to become bored during their last two years of high school. Richland is part of the Dallas County Community College District, and applied for a state charter in February in order to create a place that would emphasize mathematics, science, and engineering for high school juniors and seniors. The program is slated to begin next fall with 200 juniors, adding 200 more students the following year. [More-Dallas Morning News] (June 18) [free registration]

Choice
In the nation's capitol 983 students participate in the DC Choice Incentive program, which provides federal grants in the form of opportunity scholarships to eligible DC students to use toward tuition and fees at private or religious schools if their public schools are not adequately serving them. Sixty-one percent of students in the voucher program are attending Catholic school. The arrival of D.C. choice incentive students has spurred the turn-around of schools such as St. Benedict the Moor in Northeast DC, which has received 80 new students since the voucher program began. A comprehensive study of the program's effect on student achievement will be issued in the next 18 months. [More-The Washington Post] (June 12) [free registration]

About 1,600 students from some of Connecticut's poorest areas are sleeping in one city and studying in another due to the Project Choice program. The initiative allows students from cities such as Hartford, New Haven, Bridgeport, and New London to attend suburban schools in the Fairfield county towns of Westport, Trumbull, Stratford, Monroe, Fairfield, Weston, and Easton. Project Choice is so popular among disadvantaged families that when 13 slots opened this spring, the agency that manages the lottery system for Fairfield County schools received 800 applications. [More-The New York Times] (June 21) [free registration]

The idea for Believers in Christ Christian Academy, a Milwaukee voucher school, came from a parent's dream and was realized through the lead efforts of Cheryl Brown, a trained nurse and pastor. In 1990 Brown opened the elementary school with 125 children in an inner-city neighborhood. Brown has succeeded in creating an academy and a spin-off high school where every graduate has been accepted into college. Future plans include building an urban education campus, ministry headquarters, and community center on the 31 acres of land Believers in Christ recently purchased. [More-Milwaukee Journal Sentinel] (June 5) [free registration]

Early College High Schools
Principal Alaine Lane hopes to bring the early college high school movement to her students at Briggs High School in Norwalk (CT). Lane is in the initial stage of a proposal with Norwalk Community College (NCC) to move Briggs on or near the NCC campus. If the proposal is approved, Briggs students will be able to take college and high school classes simultaneously, with the option of using the college credits they earn at NCC. NCC President David Levinson supports the partnership, but envisions extending it to include Norwalk's entire public high school system. [More-The Advocate] (June 14)

Cleveland's (OH) Early College High School graduated its first class this June. Fifty-four students received diplomas and each one will attend a four-year college in the fall. In 2002, the Cleveland School District created the Early College High School program with the idea that students could graduate from high school in three years, if they maintain a 3.5 grade point average. Early College High School is located on Cleveland State University's campus where students can also take college courses. [More-WKYC News] (June 17)

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Last Modified: 08/13/2009