The Education Innovator #38
Volume III
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The Education Innovator
 October 20, 2005 • Number 38
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St. Petersburg Collegiate High School, Florida
What's New

Innovations in the News

St. Petersburg Collegiate High School: "Old School" Is New Again
Nestled between the Gulf of Mexico and Tampa Bay lies Pinellas County, Florida, home to over 900,000 residents, 35 miles of sandy beaches, and the state's first two-year institution of higher learning. St. Petersburg College (SPC) opened as a private college in 1927 with 14 faculty members and 102 students. Twenty years later, SPC became public, and, by 2001, it had converted into a four-year institution. In 2004, the college instituted another innovation. SPC opened its original St. Petersburg/Gibbs campus to high school students looking to accelerate their education. These students attend St. Petersburg Collegiate High School (SPCH) on the SPC campus and earn college credits toward an Associate of Arts degree while completing their high school graduation requirements.

The first charter high school in the Pinellas County school district, SPCHS opened after Senator Don Sullivan (R-St. Petersburg) approached Carl Kuttler, SPC President, to start a high school program on his campus. Both believed that a charter high school on a college campus could provide socially and academically mature high school students with a quality education and an abundance of resources. In 2004 that vision became a reality, and currently the school serves a student body of 150, reflecting the demographics of the surrounding district with 70.1 percent white, 22.6 percent black, 4 percent Hispanic, and 3.3 percent Asian students.

Students enroll at SPCHS after attending ninth grade at neighborhood high schools in the district. Once students are eligible for tenth or eleventh grade, they may apply. SPCHS prefers that potential students have maintained a high school grade point average of 2.5 or higher and that they have passed the eighth grade portion of the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT). SPCHS targets students who have a demonstrated ability to succeed in challenging coursework, who may be successful in self-directed study, or who, with guidance and support, can excel in a rigorous environment.

Once accepted into the school, students take the College Placement Test, which assesses their skill in mathematics, reading, and language arts. Scores on the mathematics section determine students' placement in SPCHS math classes, while scores on the other two portions of the exam help teachers determine students' strengths and weaknesses in those subjects.

Based on their test results and previous academic records, tenth grade students participate in one of two programs that tailor instruction to different levels of academic preparedness: the Pre-Collegiate Program or the Collegiate Program. The Pre-Collegiate Program is a modified high school curriculum designed to support college readiness. Pre-Collegiate students participate in traditional tenth grade classes such as English, economics, chemistry, and world history. Students also take practical courses such as "Writing and Research" and "College Success Skills," which introduce them to topics such as essay structure, note taking, and time management. At the end of the first semester, Pre-Collegiate students who are ready to handle college-level coursework can begin college-level classes.

All credits earned in the Pre-Collegiate Program meet Florida's high school graduation standards. If students have already completed any of the high school requirements before entering SPCHS, they may participate in additional high school courses in journalism or independent study, as well as various introductory college classes. High school courses use the same textbooks and materials as other Pinellas County schools so that the SPCHS curriculum is aligned with Sunshine State Standards. Students attend high school classes in four portable buildings on the SPC campus from 8 a.m. until 2:15 p.m. State certified high school teachers instruct all Pre-Collegiate classes.

All eleventh and twelfth grade students participate in the Collegiate Program, which combines high school and college courses that lead to the completion of a high school diploma and an Associate of Arts degree. To be eligible to participate, students must pass the College Placement Test and have a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or higher. Collegiate students take classes alongside regular college students at the SPC St. Petersburg/Gibbs campus for 25 hours per week. Areas of academic study range from linguistics, mathematics and physics, to teacher certification and zoology. The number of college credits that each student receives varies due to specialized courses required in different fields of study. Most students earn a minimum of 60 credits for an Associate of Arts degree. SPC professors and adjunct faculty instruct Collegiate Program classes.

Overall, the reaction of SPC faculty to the high school students has been positive. Keith Goree, Director of the Applied Ethics Institute at SPC notes, "St. Petersburg College is better and stronger for having the Collegiate High School here. SPCHS students tend to be highly motivated and inquisitive. They add energy and vitality to our campus climate."

Because eleventh and twelfth grade students are spread out across the SPC campus during their various classes, the high school requires them to come together at weekly meetings. These meetings allow students and staff to connect with each other, discuss upcoming SAT and ACT test dates, scholarship opportunities, and handle various administrative business. Representatives from state colleges and universities also discuss their programs during this time.

SPCHS students must acknowledge the school's arduous three-year curriculum and alternative schedule when they first sign on to attend. Students and their parents are required to participate in an orientation meeting and sign an agreement pledging their adherence to the school's "Twelve Principles of Participation." These principles include a promise to complete daily homework assignments, regularly attend classes, and adhere to the SPC code of conduct.

SPCHS sets high standards for its students, but it also provides support to ensure that all students can succeed. Students are encouraged to visit the college's Learning Support Center where they can obtain free tutoring in all subjects. SPCHS also offers the REAL (Research, Exploratory And Learning) Laboratory where students can explore potential careers by speaking with counselors and searching the Internet. The lab provides students with quiet areas for study, as well as group learning areas and video viewing stations.

In addition to these supports, the school uses each student's FCAT and College Placement Test scores, prior coursework, interests, and grade point average to develop individualized plans of study. At the beginning of every academic year, students, their parents, and the school's guidance counselor map a plan of coursework that satisfies requirements for graduation from both high school and college. The plan is designed to meet eligibility requirements for the Florida Bright Futures Program as well. This program is a state lottery-funded scholarship created by the Florida legislature to reward high school graduates who have records of high academic achievement and are enrolled in a degree, certificate, or applied technology program at eligible Florida postsecondary institutions.

Upon completion of their Associate's degrees, SPCHS students may take advantage of the Bright Futures scholarship, as well as programs at the University Partnership Center, which St. Petersburg College manages. The Center represents an alliance of 15 colleges and universities that offers 44 bachelor's degrees and 31 graduate and certificate programs in Pinellas County. SPCHS graduates may enter these schools as junior-level college students.

Based on its "A" rating from the Florida Department of Education in its first year, SPCHS students can look forward to their own bright futures. The state rated SPCHS as one of the ten best secondary schools in Florida. On this year's FCAT, 100 percent of students passed the mathematics section, as compared to 80 percent in the district and 77 percent in the state. Eighty-nine percent of SPCHS students passed the reading section of the FCAT, as compared to 59 percent in the district and 52 percent in the state, and all students passed the writing section. The class of 2004-2005 also experienced success, with 42.5 percent earning a grade point average between 3.0 and 3.9 in their college classes. With this performance, the school made adequate yearly progress for the last school year.

St. Petersburg Collegiate High School represents a partnership between St. Petersburg College and the Pinellas County Schools. The school was made possible through a Charter Schools Program grant to the state of Florida from the Office of Innovation and Improvement.

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


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

U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings convened a meeting of mental-health experts, teachers, and school officials for the first in a series of six roundtable discussions designed to gather information about Hurricane Katrina's impact on displaced students and the schools that are educating them. Secretary Spellings also announced the release of a new booklet, Tips for Helping Students Recovering from Traumatic Events, which provides help for school officials and parents who are dealing with students affected by the hurricane. (Oct. 12)

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) has released A Profile of the American High School Senior in 2004: A First Look. This study builds on the Education Longitudinal Study of 2002 that began with a nationally representative sample of 10th graders. The new report summarizes the demographic and educational characteristics of this class, which was in 12th grade in 2004. The report also summarizes the senior cohort's mathematics achievement, their values, and expectations for the future. About 69 percent expected to complete college with a four-year college degree. (Oct. 18)

The Digest of Education Statistics, 2004 has been published with statistical information covering various aspects of education from pre-kindergarten through graduate school. Some topics in the digest include: the number of schools, colleges, teachers, graduates, and libraries; enrollments; and international comparisons. (Oct. 12)

Charter Schools

The Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) has provided the Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP) with a $1 million loan to establish the KIPP Early Stage Revolving Fund, which will help KIPP charter schools build and renovate facilities nationwide. The KIPP charter schools in Houston (TX) will be the first schools to receive funds. (Oct. 18)


Dr. Earl Wiman, principal of Alexander Elementary School in Tennessee, has been selected to represent his state as a National Distinguished Principal. Dr. Wiman's school participates in the OII-directed Magnet Schools Assistance Program in Jackson-Madison County. The U.S. Department of Education and the National Association of Elementary School Principals sponsor the National Distinguished Principals Program. To be chosen for the recognition, principals had to meet several criteria. For example, they must have respect from students, faculty, and parents, and they must have demonstrated strong leadership and how that leadership benefited the curriculum. (Oct. 12)

Science Education

On October 11, the Concord Consortium, a nonprofit educational research and development organization, held a forum and exhibition addressing the challenges and future of science education in this country. Among the presenters were Robert Tinker, founder and president of the Concord Consortium, and Leon Lederman, Nobel Laureate in physics, director emeritus of Fermilab, and resident scholar at the Illinois Math Science Academy. The forum featured examples from the Consortium's research, developed with funding from the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Education. (Oct. 11)


Quantum Tutors (see Innovator, Aug. 29) is one of the tools that the Middle School Achievement Technology-Rich Interventions (MATRIX) Project will use to deliver after school tutoring to middle school students under a recently awarded Star Schools grant from OII. Quantum Simulations, Inc., the developer of the "Tutors" artificial intelligence assessment and software, also has completed its six-month $100,000 research project funded by the National Eye Institute, a division of the National Institutes of Health. Quantum's artificial intelligence program for chemistry has been certified by the National Federation of the Blind's (NFB) Nonvisual Accessibility Web Application Certification Program. (Oct. 5)


Innovations in the News

Arts Education
Middle school students paint, dance, and sing their way toward success at the Cleveland School's multi-faceted arts program in Chicago. Despite a tight budget, the school's principal has maintained a rigorous commitment to arts education. Performing hip-hop routines and creating replicas of famous artwork are just a few of the projects completed by Cleveland School students. [More-Chicago Sun-Times] (Oct. 11)

Fourth-grader Madison Colledge wants to learn how to draw faces better. She also likes music, is a talented dancer, and says it was her school, Beacon Heights, which helped her develop her interests. Beacon Heights is one of eight Salt Lake City Area schools that participate in Artstream, a program that offers a full strand of music education taught by a district team of arts educators. Each participating school also offers at least one additional form of arts education. This arts instruction is provided through partnerships with the University of Utah and a variety of community art institutions. While the program is currently geared toward students in fourth through sixth grade, plans are underway to create a similar program for students in kindergarten through third grade, with an end goal to provide comprehensive arts education for grades K-12. [More-Deseret News] (Oct. 11)

Charter Schools
California charter schools experienced unprecedented growth in the past school year. The opening of 84 new charter schools helped to increase the total charter school enrollment by 32,000 students. This increase also revealed a pattern of robust growth in pre-existing charter schools. As charter schools continue to open in traditionally under-served urban areas, parents and students are flocking to them. Charter schools now account for approximately one in 20 of all California public schools. [More-Argus] (Oct. 12)

Magnet Schools
Escalante Elementary School, a magnet school for students interested in science in Salt Lake City, Utah, is helping motivate young girls to become involved in the sciences. Pupils at Escalante create candy volcanoes, take field trips to basins and boulders, and interact with female role models enrolled at the local university. Students at Escalante aim for careers such as rocket scientists, veterinarians, and science teachers. Educators hope that creating such a strong interest in the sciences at a young age will lead girls to pursue careers in the fields where they are underrepresented. [More-Salt Lake Tribune] (Oct. 10)

Raising Student Achievement/School Reform
Students in some of Massachusetts' largest school districts may be attending school longer each day and more often throughout the year if the districts, teachers' unions, and state agree. Boston, Worcester, and Springfield recently applied for grants from the State Department of Education to implement longer school days, which would begin next fall. Springfield, for example, may add 10 days to the beginning and end of the traditional academic year and add time to the school day for portions of the year when it is still light outside so that children can safely get home. [More-The Boston Globe] (Oct. 3)

The 72,000 students taking Rhode Island's new standardized tests will notice a difference this month. The revamped math and reading exams test students' critical-thinking and problem-solving skills, not just how well the students can add numbers or understand a paragraph. The state introduced new standards last year for what students should know and be able to do in each grade, and the new tests align with these standards. [More-The Boston Globe] (Oct. 2)

Teacher Quality/Troops to Teachers
In Illinois, 185 soldiers are enrolled in the Troops to Teachers program. In addition to being content experts, many "Troops Teachers" work with high school dropouts who have come back to school to finish, or counsel struggling students who are homeless or teen parents. According to a report by the National Center for Education Information (NCEI), 97 percent of Troops Teachers would recommend the program to their colleagues. [More-Army News Service] (Sept. 29)

According to the NCEI report, 67 percent of principals surveyed said that Troops to Teachers teachers are better prepared to teach than their counterparts, and 72 percent said that former military personnel are better with parents. According to the Georgia Troops to Teachers program, school districts are snapping up these teachers. No Child Left Behind modified the focus of the Troops to Teachers program by emphasizing the need to make quality teachers available for high-need schools and school districts. [More-Henry Herald] (Oct. 16)

Those in schools as a result of the Troops to Teachers program can bring valuable skills to their classrooms, especially leadership and sensitivity to diversity, according to the director of the program. And, these teachers can also lend a personal perspective to history lessons. Their experiences in nursing or communications, in Vietnam or Italy, are lessons that can be passed on to students. According to the NCEI report, over 9,000 veterans have chosen teaching as their second career. [More-Silver Chips] (Article taken from a student newspaper at Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring, MD) (Oct. 6)


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Last Modified: 08/12/2009