An extra year of high school? Mention this to your average American student and you can almost hear them shudder. As the Bangor Daily News reports, five years of high school could be an option for Maine high school students. On Tuesday, Governor Paul LePage issued an executive order to create a 19-member task force which will study the idea.
Five years of high school is not meant to penalize students, but to offer them the chance to gain college credit while still in high school. During his campaign last year for governor, LePage issued a report, “Turning the Page: New Ideas to Get Maine Working.” Drawing on a similar program in North Carolina and a nonprofit, the Early College High School Initiative, LePage has suggested that high school students could take introductory-level college courses and end up graduating with both a high school diploma and an associate degree, or two years of transferable college credits. These would all be free, as they’d be part of a student’s secondary school education.
Since 2002, they’ve helped more than 230 schools in 28 states and the District of Columbia make the five-year switch. They specifically work with schools attended by students who may be “first-generation college goers, English language learners, students of color” or from low-income backgrounds—students that often need help getting on the college track.
I’ve heard of similar programs in which colleges and universities pair with local high schools, to allow high school students to take courses for college credit. In some programs, the student takes the courses in their own high school; they aren’t necessarily taught by college professors, but by teachers who have received special training. The courses are supervised by a someone from a college or university, to ensure that the curriculum and course work are on a par with that at a college or university. In other programs, students actually take courses in community colleges or other colleges and universities.
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