New Program Gives Low-Income HS Students College Credit and a Pathway to Higher Ed

Writing for The 74, Phyllis Jordan explains a new program that is bringing college-level coursework into Title I schools. Excerpts from the piece appear below:

Leaders at selective colleges and universities often say they want to recruit high-achieving students from low-income backgrounds – but can’t find them. A new program that brings college coursework into some of the nation’s poorest high schools is providing students with college credit and a pathway into higher education. And it’s creating a hybrid model for online and classroom learning that could be adapted more widely amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

Last fall, 277 students in 11 cities completed the inaugural College-in-High School course, learning American poetry – from Walt Whitman to Kendrick Lamar – from a Harvard University professor. About 90 percent of them received college credit. They include students from an Indian reservation in New Mexico, the Louisiana bayou and big cities such as New York and Los Angeles.

This semester, about 40 students are getting an introduction to engineering from Arizona State University. Howard University will join the lineup with a class on criminal justice in the fall, when the project is expected to reach a total of 1,000 students in 50 Title I high schools.

In the program, developed by the nonprofit National Education Equity Lab, the college professors’ lectures are delivered online, while a classroom teacher at the high school leads discussion of the material. The students’ papers and tests are sent to the colleges, where graduate students grade them and provide coaching on writing skills.

Ultimately, the project offers opportunities for students who need them most: those without the resources, the knowledge or the confidence to see themselves succeeding in college. Four credits from Harvard go a long way to proving their worth — both to admissions officers and themselves.

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