Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Are we doing Early College wrong? Part II

     Recently, I described my one-and-a-half hour stint teaching “Early College” at a local high school. I described that episode in relation to long-standing faculty worries about this sort of program.
     The piece elicited a comment from the director of a large Midwestern Early/Middle College program, who suggested that IVC’s “direct credit” approach—that is, an approach in which groups of high school students are thrust all at once, and with little preparation, into college classes (at the high school)—is unlikely to succeed. According to the Director, a proper and viable “Early College” program brings pre-college students to the university or college and works with them extensively until they are prepared to join college courses.
     I wrote him, asking for a fuller explanation. This morning, he wrote back. He provided me with impressive data that suggest that his program is highly successful. Beyond that, he made these points:
  • Many schemes around the country are called “Early College,” but the successful programs comprise “colleges” created by secondary schools on college/university campuses, that are tightly aligned with those institutions and that see themselves as part of them.
  • In these successful programs, students are not brought into college courses until they demonstrate the academic and life skills necessary for college success. (He cites the work of David Conley.)
  • In general, one cannot plop high school students into a college course setting and expect them to succeed. Successful programs are mindful of typical high school student deficits and entail faculty working with students as coaches as well as instructors.
  • IVC’s sort of “Early College” program puts high school students into instructional circumstances that “do not taste, feel or smell like college.” Thus, many institutions of higher learning are unwilling to view such instruction as college instruction. Colleges and universities tend to require that EC courses be taught at colleges, on a college course time schedule, with most of the students in the class being actual college students.
     I also heard from a college employee who reported that, in the early days of IVC’s EC program, he sought to gain a sound grasp of how the scheme prepared students for degrees or transfer, but that eluded him. His probing questions to those in charge were poorly received and generally unwelcome. This employee found himself sometimes recommending to students that they try OCC.
     Another employee described tense and uncomfortable sessions with immature high schoolers and their parents who seemed incapable of understanding the importance of student maturity for college success.

See also ABC’s and PhD’s: Early College (Mama PhD, Inside Higher Ed)

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

At a time when we are cutting classes at the college and reducing the summer schedule to a post-it note - this sham of a "program" is an embarrassing and ill-advised use of resources and you know, everyone knows it. I wonder if any admin types actually visit the classes. I wonder if anyone compares the work produced there to the work produced at students at the college - how about them SLOs?

tudor3x8 said...

I honestly believe that if high school students want to take non-AP college courses, it must be done at a college. I took classes at IVC as a high school student who was homeschooled for a very complicated reason. When I went to see my best friend at her high school, I felt a massive change in maturity, one that only I noticed. My friend laughed it off, but if she went back, I have no doubt she'd noticed the difference...

B. von Traven said...

Yes, I suppose it is a matter "chemistry" that occurs because of the presence of so many like-minded (or like-feeling) creatures in one place. It says little about the individuals, I suppose, aside from a curious tolerance for abject foolish buzzery and yackery.

Anonymous said...

I *LOVE* that picture! Wonderful.

I hope SOCCCD can get Early College, or whatever it is, right. It's almost certainly the wave of the future.

Anonymous said...

I taught one of the early college classes. Students were capable of doing the work with help and coaching. What was sad were the few who didn't complete the coursework and received their first college grade--F.

Anonymous said...

I have never met a faculty who believes this is a good idea - or even acceptable idea. I have met faculty members who will tell you about the terrific high school students they have in their classes here on campus (I am one who has had such students!) - but no one who thinks this dumbed down and dumber version of our classes taught to a segregated audience under sub-standard conditions (meddling admin types and parent, disaffected immature students pressured to take classes when they do not want to) --- well, you get teh point.

Our college administration does not hear our concerns about this and never will. I don't know why - they don't explain the imperative and reasoning at all. They just smile and shove it down our collective throats. Another dismal example of how they define student success.

Anonymous said...

But WHY would we teach classes with ONLY high school age students in them? What IS the pedagogical justification?

Anonymous said...

When we can't even serve the students who want to attend our classes why does this program continue to get support? Why don't we prioritize to meet the need of our students here on campus? I had to turn away dozens of students last week.

Anonymous said...

All good questions...
Why not use the "employee satisfaction survey" to pose them?

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