posted Aug 10, 2015, 6:02 PM by email@example.com
updated Aug 10, 2015, 6:04 PM
Ten Washington Community High School seniors will have an opportunity starting this fall to fulfill requirements for their diploma and earn college credits at the same time.
The students will participate in a one-year pilot program offered by their high school and Illinois Central College.
Unlike most dual-credit scenarios, in which classes are taught at a high school by high school teachers, Strong Start gives qualified WCHS seniors a chance to take college classes taught by college instructors on a college campus.
The college credits they earn will apply toward an associate degree from ICC or can be transferred to another community college or a four-year school.
“These students (from WCHS) will be no different than any other first-year student at our school,” said ICC interim president William Tammone.
That means they’ll be able to take classes that don’t require prerequisites or for the student to be enrolled in a program such as nursing.
Tammone said Strong Start is similar to a program ICC has offered for several years in conjunction with Midland High School in Varna.
Tammone said conversations have begun among ICC, Peoria District 150 and Morton District 709 officials about starting similar programs in those school districts.
The idea for Strong Start came from second-year WCHS Principal Kyle Freeman, who also serves as District 308 superintendent, from a program that was part of his last job at Mascoutah District 19. He was assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction for the K-12 district in southern Illinois.
WCHS seniors must have a minimum 3.0 grade-point average on a 4.0 scale, be on track at the end of their junior year to graduate on time, have positive attendance and discipline records, score at college-level in all areas on placement tests and complete an ICC application to participate in Strong Start.
They also must take part in ICC’s new student orientation and meet regularly with ICC and WCHS counselors.
Karen Stevens, WCHS director of student services, said she’s excited about Strong Start for a variety of reasons.
“For one thing, our students will have a safety net,” she said.
The safety net will be provided by Sharon Gilbert, ICC’s dual credit coordinator. Stevens said Gilbert will gather progress reports on Strong Start students from their instructors every three weeks. Each report will go to the student’s high school counselor and parents, and concerns will be addressed.
Stevens said Strong Start students must take a minimum of two classes through the program and they’ll be eligible to participate in all high school activities. They must pay for the classes and provide their own transportation to and from nearby ICC, but students who are eligible for free or reduced lunch will have tuition waved.
ICC and WCHS school year schedules correspond, Stevens said, so timing isn’t a problem. ICC’s fall semester begins Aug. 17. First day of classes at WCHS is Aug. 18. Strong Start students will take classes during the high school’s school day.
Stevens said a few of the 10 Strong Start students for 2015-2016 are planning to be mid-year high school graduates. Most will take classes throughout the school year.
ICC and WCHS administrators will review grades, test scores and attendance data in July 2016 as part of an annual renewal process for Strong Start.