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.
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)