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Alternate Routes to High School Success

Page 4 of 5

By GreatSchools Staff

College Courses

Motivated students often have the option to take courses at the local community college, or in some cases, at local universities. The University of California Extension offers its High School Scholars Program at UC Santa Cruz, Davis and Berkeley. Students who attend high schools near these UC campuses and meet the grade-point and SAT-score requirements can apply to this program to take a limited number of courses at UC during their senior year. High school students may also enroll in lower-division, undergraduate college-level courses (numbered 1-99) through UC Extension with prior approval of their counselor or principal, to earn honors-level and/or transferable college credit.

Early/Middle College Programs

Many community colleges have coordinated with high schools and high school districts to form "early"or "middle colleges." Early College High Schools (ECHS) are small high schools, usually located on college campuses, from which all students graduate in either four or five years with both a high school diploma and an associate of arts degree. Middle College High Schools (MCHS) are secondary schools, usually grades 10-12, located on college campuses. Some, but not all students, in this program are eligible to take college-level work, but they benefit from attending school on a college campus.

These programs are designed for high school students who are not fitting in at their high school, have good basic skills in reading, writing and math, and are ready for the challenge of doing college-level work. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has sponsored the Early College High School Initiative to provide funding to these programs where students can earn both a high school degree and earn credits toward a college degree at the same time. As of September, 2006, 16,420 students have been enrolled in these programs in 26 states across the country.

A few states have statewide initiatives to create early or middle colleges. The Texas High School Project is a collaboration of the Communities Foundation of Texas, the University of Texas System, The University of Texas at San Antonio, East Central Independent School District (ISD), Southside ISD and Southwest ISD. The California Early College High School is a partnership between the California Department of Education and the Chancellor's Office for the California Community Colleges to support the Early College High School Initiative of the Foundation for California Community Colleges. Both the California and Texas programs are also part of the Gates Foundation initiative.

At Canada College, a public community college in Redwood City, California, for example, Middle College has been so successful that it plans to double its size from serving 60 to 120 students over the next two years. "Students who might not achieve in a regular high school are achieving here," says Tom Mohr, interim president at Canada College. "I have yet to meet a student or parent who wasn't pleased. And our college professors appreciate the program; they like having these young people in classes."

Students take both high school and college-level courses at the college as part of this Middle College program. Many of the courses they take allow them to receive both credit toward a high school diploma and college credit. As a result, many students graduate from Middle College with a high school diploma and a significant number of college credits. The added bonus is that since they are enrolled as high school students, they aren't required to pay tuition for the college courses.

Sarah Aires, a recent graduate of the University of California at Santa Cruz, attended Middle College at the College of San Mateo in California. She entered UC Santa Cruz with 28 college credits. "It was a great program. It allowed me to get done with high school quickly and it showed the colleges that I applied to that I could do college-level work," she says. "Once I entered UC Santa Cruz, I didn't have to take lots of prerequisite undergraduate courses where there were 500 students in a class."

Comments from readers

"My son is Very ADHD. I recently moved to New Jersey and his new guidance counselor seems to know more then anyone I spoke to in his middle schools in Florida. He is in 9th grade this year and finally, someone WANTS to know if he's classified and has he had an IEP or a 504. The two schools he went to in Florida did NOT want to deal with it. I never let a Dr. put him on meds until his 7th grade year. To me, they seemed to make him worse, not better. When he was small, he was so out of control that when I brought him to a doctor appointment, the staff would take us in to see the doctor in front of 5 patients, who were ahead of us to see the doctor. LOLOLOL At this point, I have been to see the guidance counselor twice and he only started school two weeks ago. He is 15 yrs old, 6'3" and refusing to go to school. I went in to sign a release for the school to get his file from the counselors and doctors he was seeing in Florida. Does anyone know of any kind of alternative schools ! in New Jersey, that take kids BEFORE they are 16?? I also had this problem in FL. I guess they want to wait until the child CAN actually quit school before they give us any resources. As it is, I am wondering when they are going to come here with handcuffs and take ME away. "
"is anyone know for independent tutors for 11th grader math & chemistry please? for el cerrito el sobrante,CA. Thanks "
"My oldest daughter age 16 is struggling in Highschool. She seems to have poor time management and lack of focus. She goes to a school were it seems like the staff members are training inmates. I don't know what to do before it is too late for her to get back on track. Im considering alternative school, but I dont want her to think she is being punished. What should I do not to loose my daughter all together."
"our alternative to public high school is a charter school.there are many in all states,my teenager was spinninning her wheels and wasnt learning much.teachers didnt seem to care,and they were loading her down with projects instead of teaching.grades were getting worse no time to breath just project after project.then we removed our child from diamond ranch hs,then enrolled her in a charter school.san gabriel vly school district has many locations in so cal area.we have one close to home,req attendance 2 hrs a week earning more credits than dia rnch will grad much sooner year round one on one instuction.straight a-s now. public schools and our state and some teachers are failing,they only care about the revinue.people wake up!"
"iam looking for a good shool for my son he has adhd and lead paint posing he is in the 10 gradebut he is 19 years old the school that he is in is ok but it is in a bad part town and iam trying to pull him away from his friends that go there because some of the kids is not trying to do nothing and they are holding the other kids back like my son so this s why iam looking for a good school iam not going to give up on himand he is not going to give up."
"How can you help your child when they are behind or they don't seem have a good understand in some courses, especially math."
"what about kids forced to be in foundations cause its easier for the school to meet their requirements! I just figured it out. Not special ed - just LD - only getting IEP reading services not math - and in foundations and bored - took a gifted summer program with approved from Professor Lamella at Middlesex to encourage girls math/scinece/engineering - my daughter excelled - got confidence and learned her strenghts and weaknesses - zoned during the physics lessson but can apply what she learned came up with the winning desgn and they built it from scratch - came in 2nd place in juding - presented it for the group in front of at least 300 people! no one knew she was a SPED. Oh LD Oh a nice kid! I asked the foundations math teacher to help Jen where she may struggle - like have her stay if she gets 6 wrong out of 12 - help a tutor in the school come up with a plan to get her ready for the HESPA - to discuss with Jen the 'zero' for a homework assignment she received - to find out why her weekly reports say Jen is doing fine and the website you go to says she has a 'C' - to find out what on-line program they use so I can check it out. This was the response I got: 'Mrs. Cochrane, I have spoken with the my supervisor, the head of the Mathematics Department, about your request for supplies to use to prepare for the HSPA during the sophomore year. She has given me 2 copies of a resource for 'Early Preparation' which could be done in the 10th grade. Please do not write in the books, instead, use them as guides for the material to cover. One copy is for Jen and the other copy is for whoever tutors her. I've also included a copy of the answer key. Please return all 3 soft cover books to me in June 2009. I will have the 3 books in the front office with your name on them for pick up. A plan to prepare for the HSPA.....turn to page i through page iv. These are the topics to focus on. If a weakness shows up, spend additional time in that area. I've found that a little bit of help when you need it goes a long way. I was happy to see that the comments I forwarded to Mrs. Bitondo were included in the weekly updates you receive from her. Since you've included Jen's grades from Home Plus, I know that you have the tools you need to log on and keep abreast of Jen's progress. She's doing well. Glad I could help you. I'll send Mary Bitondo this week's update on Friday which she will forward on to you. Sue Whitt' does this fall under the 10th Amendment ? Why can't she speak to me - call - me - help my daughter? "
"This is valuable information and it did give more options for my high school student. Thanks for your help."
"As a college consultant, I assist students with college selection and the college admission process, but NOLS is a great program that I recommend to some students who may not be quite ready for college or others who may want to do something different first. It is especially good for those interested in the outdoors. They can get college credit for some outstanding outdoor leadership courses. Some of the courses are during the summer or school year and others are a semester long."