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Last Updated: 02/23/2018

Early-college Plan Details Scant

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Denise Smith Amos, Cincinnati Enquirer, March 31, 2008

High schools across the state can begin applying this week for the first funds available to start “Seniors to Sophomores” early college programs.
But it is unclear how many of those high schools – and their college partners – will be in the Cincinnati region. Some school officials here are just beginning to talk about how to launch the initiative in the fall.

Proposed by Gov. Ted Strickland, Seniors to Sophomores would allow seniors to spend their fourth year of high school taking courses on college campuses in Ohio. They’d earn college credit and a high school diploma at the same time.

Ohio’s Board of Regents plans to award up to $4 million in planning funds to high schools and their college partners that are “early adopters” of the program, at a rate of up to $100,000 each. These early adopter schools must file an application explaining how they plan to offer the program to qualifying seniors next year and beyond.
The state ultimately hopes these new opportunities will increase college enrollment by 230,000 students in the next decade, said Michael Chaney, spokesman for the Ohio Board of Regents, which administers the program with the state education department.

There are now about 470,000 Ohio students enrolled in post-secondary programs.

A few Cincinnati-area high schools said they’re in talks with colleges and hope to submit applications soon to get planning funds, but other high schools said they’re waiting.

“We keep waiting and we want to plan ahead, but I don’t think there’s enough information out there to plan,” said Mark Farmer, director of curriculum services for the Northwest school district, which has two high schools.

Tuition would be free for high school students, but high schools and colleges must work out how they’ll share state per-student funds. Also yet to be decided is how and if books and transportation would be provided.

Cincinnati-area colleges said that high schools they currently partner with are still discussing the program.

“We’re all for dual enrollment. What we’re going to do in terms of this particular program is under discussion,” said Ann Appleton, interim assistant dean of enrollment and student services at UC Clermont College in Batavia.

Several Cincinnati Public high schools are investigating it too, said Janet Walsh, district spokeswoman.

Virginia Rhodes, principal at Aiken University High in College Hill, said she plans to put in an application soon to launch Seniors to Sophomores.

“We’re trying to blur the lines between high school and college,” Rhodes said. “A lot of research has been done on how to get the first generation in a family into college. The answer is to blur the lines.”

She predicted a dozen to two dozen students may use the Seniors to Sophomores program next school year.

Sycamore High also is “in conversation” about Seniors to Sophomores for next fall, said Jennifer Manoukian, the district’s assistant director of curriculum and instruction for grades 6 through 12.

“We’re looking at this as an opportunity possibly to craft something exciting,” she said.

“There are so many issues involved here, not the least of which is funding,” Manoukian added. “Gov. Strickland says this would be tuition-free. Well, who would pick up the cost?”

The planning funds this year won’t be there next year, so the schools’ plans have to include ways to fund the program into the future, Chaney said.

Through Ohio’s current Post Secondary Education Options program, high school students of any age can take college-level courses, usually on a college campus. Also, many high schools have college-certified instructors teaching college-level courses at the high schools.

Many more high schools offer Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate courses that can yield college credit.


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