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TCPS, Chesapeake to partner on AP, Dual Enrollment

Pilot expands effort to help high school students earn college credit

Posted on Tuesday, September 18, 2012


Chesapeake College President Dr. Barbara Viniar, left, and TCPS Superintendent Dr. Karen Salmon 

WYE MILLS – Separately, Advanced Placement and Dual Enrollment are successful strategies for helping high school students earn college credit.

Together, they’re even better.

That’s the premise behind a pilot program – called the Advanced Credit Initiative (ACI) – jointly developed by Chesapeake College and Talbot County Public Schools. One of the project’s chief goals is to combine AP and Dual Enrollment opportunities and long-term academic planning in order to maximize the number of college credits program participants may earn prior to high school graduation.

"This is an exciting opportunity for our students," said TCPS Superintendent Dr. Karen Salmon, who joined Chesapeake College President Dr. Barbara Viniar in officially launching the program by signing a Memorandum of Understanding Tuesday morning at the Talbot County Board of Education office. "The program offers students the ability to plan out a sequence of AP and Dual Enrollment offerings that meets a student’s individual postsecondary goals."

Dr. Viniar said the program offers participants many potential advantages depending upon their goals.

"Students can plan AP/Dual Enrollment packages that can be used toward a Chesapeake College degree or for transfer to four-year colleges and universities," said Dr. Viniar. "These early college experiences can also help students get into their college of choice – many colleges are more likely to admit students who have already proven they can succeed in college and college-level courses."

While many TCPS students already take both AP and Dual Enrollment courses, Dr. Salmon said the ACI program is "more strategic and intentional."

"Students don’t always realize what they can achieve through early, carefully considered academic planning," said Dr. Salmon. "This program puts a premium on early planning to maximum student potential."

While students don’t start Dual Enrollment until their junior year, Dr. Viniar said admissions staff and TCPS school counselors work jointly with high school students starting in their freshman year as part of the program. Those efforts started in June as college and high school staff held information sessions at both Easton and St. Michaels high schools for members of the Class of 2015 – the first class participating in the program – and their parents.

"It’s a comprehensive, four-year program," noted Dr. Viniar.

Program activities will intensify this school year as Chesapeake staff and high school counselors work with sophomores. ACI interest meetings will take place this fall, followed in the spring by college placement testing, joint high school/college academic planning, and students’ registration for their first Dual Enrollment classes that will take place in Fall 2013. Some sophomores are already taking their first Advanced Placement class this academic year.

In addition to taking AP and Dual Enrollment courses throughout their junior and senior years, students will be able to see how those courses can be used to fulfill Chesapeake requirements in the student’s academic program of choice. During participants’ senior year, college staff will work with students to move seamlessly into Chesapeake after high school graduation or prepare for transfer.

Dr. Richard Midcap, the college’s vice president for student success, said the college approached TCPS about being the pilot county because of Talbot’s already robust Dual Enrollment Program and the ability to build upon what was already in place.

"We’ve had consistently strong Dual Enrollment participation in Talbot County," said Dr. Midcap, noting 70 of the 171 Dual Enrollment students at the college this fall are from Talbot County. "And we already have in place a system of on-site courses at Easton High that we could use as a base."

Chesapeake, which has historically scheduled one college course a semester at Easton High School, will now offer two per semester. The college has already committed to a rotation of courses through 2015 in which General Psychology (PSC 150) and Wellness for Life (PED 103) will be offered each fall while Fundamentals of Oral Communication (COM 101) and Sociology (SOC 161) will be offered each spring at EHS.

Students may also take courses at Chesapeake College’s Wye Mills Campus, Cambridge Center, online, and during the summer with parental and school permission.

Dr. Midcap said program participants will have the opportunity to build significant amounts of college credit. As an example, he used a student who scores a "3" on six AP tests and a "4" on AP U.S. History.

"If that student also took the four on-site Dual Enrollment courses at Easton, one addition General Education course and Freshman Seminar Course, he or she would be one semester short of earning an associate degree by the time of high school graduation," said Dr. Midcap.

Kathy Petrichenko, Chesapeake’s dean for recruitment services, said the mix of AP and Dual Enrollment courses will vary by student.

"Some students are great at high-stakes testing and thrive in the AP program. Others feel more comfortable in a 15-week format that features regular evaluation that builds to a final grade," noted Petrichenko. "That’s why we feel the academic advising component is critical if this program is to work for each individual student."

While Dual Enrollment tuition is reduced by 25 percent and there are some scholarship opportunities for Dual Enrollment students – principally a small amount of money the college can award out of the Maryland Part-Time Grant – Dr. Viniar said she and Dr. Salmon are seeking local organizations that may be interested in setting up ACI scholarships. That is especially important as both TCPS and the college are committed to making the program accessible, according to Tom Callahan, TCPS coordinator for College Board programs.

"We hope to have among our participants a significant number of students who typically face difficult challenges in earning college degrees, including first-generation college students, students from low-income families, and students historically underrepresented in higher education," said Callahan. "There are many studies that show students from these groups are more likely to graduate from high school, transition to a four-year college, and persist in postsecondary education if they are involved in AP and Dual Enrollment programs."

Dr. Viniar said individuals or organizations interested in funding ACI scholarships beginning in Fall 2013 should contact Chesapeake College Dean for Recruitment Services Kathy Petrichenko (kpetrichenko@chesapeake.edu, 410-822-5400, ext. 2257).

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