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Union Boundary


Union to Launch Early College High School

By EMILY RAMSEY
Managing Editor

PILOT PROGRAM: Union officials recently announced the creation of the Early College High School pilot program. From left are Kathy Dodd, Union Public Schools associate superintendent of teaching and learning; Tulsa Community College President and CEO Leigh Goodson; Dr. Cindy Hess, TCC senior vice president and chief academic officer; and Union Superintendent Dr. Kirt Hartzler.


EMILY RAMSEY for GTR Newspapers


In an effort to offer additional avenues for academic success and to break down barriers for students, Union Public Schools and Tulsa Community College will launch a pilot program in 2018 that will allow students to earn an associate degree by the time of their high school graduation.

The initiative, called Early College High School, is an expansion of concurrent enrollment opportunities already available at the Union Collegiate Academy.

“As the leader in Oklahoma with nearly 2,000 concurrent students, we believe this pilot will serve as a statewide model for how students can complete high school and college,” says TCC President and CEO Leigh Goodson. “We know from TCC’s numbers that students who take college courses while still in high school are more likely to graduate high school and earn a college degree.”

The students selected to participate in the program will complete a rigorous college prep curriculum in ninth grade before entering Early College High School in 10th grade. The students will move through the program as a group with a specified course sequence and schedule.

The first group will be made up of 60 students, called a cohort. The idea is that the group of students will move through the program together, serving as supports for one another, says Dr. Kathy Dodd, Union Public Schools associate superintendent of teaching and learning. “Plus, they will have other support services provided by the High School that will help them to further develop the skillset needed for college.”

The college courses will be taught by TCC faculty and supported by Union teachers and staff. All courses will be taken on the High School campus.

Both education institutions have agreed to share costs associated with the pilot program and study the outcomes for two groups of students for four years.

“This is the first pilot of its kind in size and scope in Oklahoma, and it involves the third largest college and the sixth largest high school in the state,” says Goodson. “We are very excited about what this means for our students, our community, and our ability to produce high school and college graduates ready for the workforce.”

The goal of the program is to both increase the number of students who go to college and college graduation rates, she continues.

Union’s interest in creating this kind of program began two years ago, “because we are constantly looking at barriers that students face, such as course completion and not taking the steps needed to get to college,” says Dodd.

Administrators hope that this program will serve as an encouragement to its students who would be first generation college students, with no family history of ones attending college.

“This eliminates some of the barriers that would otherwise keep some students from going to college,” says Dodd. “We want to serve as shepherds to help both parents and students navigate college so that students are successful.”

Additionally, the long-term effects of the program could also be far-reaching throughout the state, notes Union Superintendent Dr. Kirt Hartzler.

“This is an investment in our youth. This program could be transformational to their quality of life and to our state as a whole regarding its future workforce.”

The initiative, however, is still in need of approval from the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education. Regarding that pending approval, Hartzler says, “As a state, we must support these students for the future.”

Applications are now being accepted for the pilot program with students to be chosen by the end of 2017.

Updated 10-19-2017

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