Monday, January 16, 2012

IVC's "Early College Program": doing it wrong?

     Last Monday, I wrote about my experiences holding a class (as a substitute) in Irvine Valley College’s benighted “Early College Program,” a program foisted upon IVC faculty that has been the subject of many complaints by faculty participants. The latter led to an Academic Senate (limited) inquiry, which seemed to bear out the notion that the program was problematic (student immaturity, a pattern of violations of instructor autonomy, obnoxious pressures from deans/parents, etc.).
     (One suspects that top administration views the college's ECP as a shiny, if meretricious, political showpiece that no quantity of pedagogical negatives cited by mere faculty could ever outweigh.)
     In the piece, I once again opined that the ECP, as presently configured, is a bad idea, at least for some college courses, owing to the immaturity of students (otherwise wonderful though they may be).
     For what it’s worth, this morning, we heard from one David Dugger:
David Dugger said...
     As the Director of the Early College Alliance @ Eastern Michigan University, former Dean/Principal of the Washtenaw Technical Middle College and President of Middle College Consultants I must whole heartedly agree with the post and the associated comments.
     This [i.e., IVC's ECP] is not an Early/Middle College Model, but a Direct Credit Model. Often Direct Credit Models are "packaged" as Early/Middle Colleges, but their design, structure and pedagogy are rarely, if ever, consistent with the tenets of Early/Middle College programs.
     Direct Credit models have some value and they should be evaluated as such, but to market them as Early Colleges does a grave disservice to the students and the Early/Middle College movement.
     -- 7:20 AM, January 16, 2012
     I checked, and a David Dugger is indeed the Director of the Early College Alliance, whose “about” page explains that:
   The Early College Alliance (ECA) is a public, early/middle college program located on the campus of Eastern Michigan University and exists in partnership with local school districts, including Washtenaw Intermediate School District. [My emphasis.]
. . .
   ECA is recognized by the Michigan Department of Education as a four plus one program. . . .
   The program gives students an opportunity to earn college credits while still in high school and offers strong, academically focused students a chance to enroll in advanced, college-level coursework. It also provides an option for students who are either struggling or don't feel connected to their school an alternative.
   ECA allows students to:
  • Graduate from high school with a diploma and up to 60 college credits.
  • Attend classes on a university campus with support.
  • Learn in a college environment that fosters maturity and academic growth.
  • Gain vital skills for college success.
     I'll see what I can find out about these two "models" to which Dugger refers.


     I did some looking, and it appears that, normally, an “Early College” or “Middle College” program comprises instruction at college campuses that are “structured” to permit participating K-12 students' simultaneous completion of high school (grad requirements) and a college Associate Degree (or satisfaction of college/university transfer requirements).
     Clearly, IVC’s ECP is not of this type (with the exception of high school seniors in the program; see IVC statement below), for its courses are held at the high school.
     “Direct Credit” programs seem typically to involve high school students taking “college” courses at the high school. Instructors are often “deputized” high school instructors, although, sometimes, they are college instructors imported from the local college. Often, direct credit schemes, like the above programs, are structured to allow students to prepare for college transfer and high school graduation simultaneously. (Some early or middle college programs target "struggling" students as well.)
     As Dugger suggests, IVC’s ECP seems to fall into the “direct credit” category, for its courses are held at the high schools, not the colleges. The instructors, however, are typically IVC adjuncts and hence they are college instructors, not high school instructors.
     Here’s how IVC describes its Early College Program:
     The purpose of the Early College Program is to provide the opportunity for academically qualified high school students to ... transfer to one of the UC or CSU campuses with almost two years worth of transferrable college credit, saving thousands of dollars in tuition and valuable time that can be directed toward a career or graduate work. ...[A]fter the initial cohort of students, the project has scaled back to provide for the IGETC Certification only. Students complete their high school diploma while taking IVC courses for both high school and college credit.
     The classes offered at the high school are Irvine Valley College courses taught by Irvine Valley College professors....
     Professors from IVC ... have access to high school principals and vice principals to deal immediately with student/school issues and parental requests for information as they arise, and the IVC’s Office of Instruction is responsible for overall coordination of this program. [These features reflect an attempt to address the adverse findings of the Academic Senate inquiry, I believe.]
     ECP classes are held in the morning before the first period at the high school for 9th through 11th graders…. Seniors take their college classes at IVC in the early morning. Classes are open to other college students in addition to ECP students.
     This May we look forward to our first Early College graduating class of 23 students from Beckman High School….
     One wonders what Dugger had in mind when he wrote that "Often Direct Credit Models are 'packaged' as Early/Middle Colleges, but their design, structure and pedagogy are rarely, if ever, consistent with the tenets of Early/Middle College programs." And what is the "disservice" done to "early college" students when "direct credit" schemes are labelled "early college"?
     I'll see what I can learn. (I've emailed Director Dugger.)


Anonymous said...

The deliberate segregation imposed by IVC's Early College Program contributes to the problem. You end of with a class of students all the same age and similar maturity - not the range we generally get - this plus the restraints and pressures put on the coursework and instructor by the school, the college and the parents result in classes that are not, cannot be, college classes. It is a joke.

Anonymous said...

It's telling that Romney, who so values "free enterprise," is supportive of for profit colleges that gouge students and taxpayers.

B. von Traven said...

I did hear back from Director Dugger, and I'll post elements of his response later today. --BvT (RB)

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