“Now what do I do?” How many times have you looked a student in the eye and heard them say those fateful words?
The student has failed an English class or really wants to go to a community college or a four-year university but doesn’t have the credentials for acceptance. Or maybe the student is at the top of your class yet is frightened about not being able to successful navigate classes at a college level.
What’s a teacher to do? Two fantastic options are available for both these types of students through the Bridge to College or College in the High School programs.
Bridge to College
More than one-third of graduating high school seniors are unprepared for the rigor of higher education. Because of this, these students will be required to enroll in pre-college courses once they enter college, which will cost them time and money and may even decrease their chances of graduating with a degree.
The program is designed and implemented through a collaborate effort among the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC), the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), and College Spark Washington. It has been specifically created to meet the needs of students who would like to continue their education at a community college.
Math and/or English courses are offered to high school seniors as part of the high school curriculum and allow ”students who do not score at a college-ready level (levels 3 or 4) on the assessments (to) have the opportunity to catch up their senior year with Bridge to College courses. Students who earn a B grade or above in a Bridge to College transition course and scored at level 2 on the Smarter Balanced Assessment are considered ‘college-ready.’ They are eligible to enroll in college-level math and English at participating public Washington higher-education institutions — including all of the community and technical colleges — without having to take the traditional placement tests like ACCUPLACER (Moore).”
Being able to skip placement tests and avoid the costs of taking developmental or remediation courses before beginning the standard college curriculum is a boon to many students who face financial challenges.
This opportunity is the result of a statewide agreement among Washington’s public colleges and universities.
The transition courses and placement agreement:
- Help high school graduates avoid remediation and placement tests when they enter college.
- Improve alignment between K-12 and entry-level college math and English curricula.
- Develop and sustain college/K-12 district partnerships and faculty/teacher collaboration.
How does a high school offer the Bridge to College course and what materials are available to potential teachers are often the next questions. SBCT has the answers.
Washington State Bridge to College Course Implementation
“Over 200 teachers in 125 high schools across Washington State taught the course in 2015-2016. In 2016-2017 there will be more than 300 teachers with roughly 6,000 students using the course to prepare for college success (Bridge to College Courses). Grant applications will be available for the 2017-2018 school year at http://www.k12.wa.us/CurriculumInstruct/BridgetoCollege/.
For the past two years the grants have provided funding for teacher training, curriculum materials, travel, and program administration.
High school leaders who are interested in offering this opportunity to their students should visit the website mentioned above or contact Sally Zeiger Hanson SBCTC, Bridge Course Project Manager 360-704-1055 | firstname.lastname@example.org.
Teacher Training and Curriculum? You Bet!
Once a high school has been accepted into the program and teachers identified for each subject being offered (either math or English), SBCT offers a three-day teacher training program. The training introduces the purpose, curriculum, and nuts and bolts information about the classes. Teachers leave the training with a solid understanding of the course expectations.
I hear the reactions of potential teachers: your collective moan about creating new curriculum is coming through loud and clear. But don’t worry! The curriculum is ready for you to use.
One of the strengths of this program is that the modules have been created by a partnership between community college instructors and high school teachers. The modules contain interactive activities designed to promote mastery of the Washington State Learning Standards. The English curriculum options include modules for several novels. Instructors are expected to teach one novel per semester.
Bridge to College teachers are encouraged to add their ideas and strategies to enhance the already robust curriculum. The other bonus is that instructors have a variety of modules to choose from and are not limited to everyone teaching the same module at the same time. Faculty can identify the material that best suits their teaching style and students’ interests. It is a win-win situation all around.
College in the High School
Advance Placement classes are a great opportunity for students to study and potentially earn college credit after taking an Advanced Placement test. The down side of this program is if a student doesn’t pass the test at a certain level, he or she is not eligible to receive either partial or full credit from a community college or university.
A great alternative is College in the High School (CHS). This provides college-level academic courses to 10th-, 11th-, and 12th-grade students. Courses are taught at the high school, by high school teachers, with college curriculum, college textbooks, with oversight by college faculty and staff. Students pay tuition. Some state subsidies are available for rural and small schools and for low-income students.
High school students in CHS are officially enrolled in the college or university and must meet college specific course requirements and pre-requisites. The high school teacher teaches the college course at the high school campus and uses the curriculum from the college mentor instructor. When the course is completed, the student earns college credits that are accepted at any college or university in the state of Washington.
Student outcomes in CHS courses are assessed by the same standards used for the course when offered on the college/university campus with the opportunity to earn full college credit. Multiple colleges and universities offer this program to high schools: Bellevue Community College, Central Washington University, Columbia Basin Community College, Eastern Washington University, Edmonds Community College, Everett Community College, Olympic Community College, Renton Technical College, Shoreline Community College, University of Washington, and Wenatchee Valley Community College (Copeland and Sherman).
What Are the Benefits for High School Students?
Benefits for students and system:
- Fees can be hundreds of dollars less than college tuition for comparable credits.
- In contrast to Running Start, this program allows students to earn college credit without leaving the high school campus.
- In contrast to AP courses, students earn college credit on successful completion of the class instead of relying on test scores.
- The courses included in the program are those most often required in the freshman coursework of Washington’s community colleges and universities.
- Upon successful completion, the course is posted on the student’s record with the college’s course title and number, just as it appears in the college catalog.
Teacher Training? YES!
At least a full day of training is provided by the university or college partner for the high school teacher. Mentor university teachers share curriculum and strategies for teaching the skills. Other resources are shared by university or college personal. The mentor teacher encourages electronic communication of questions, concerns, or teaching strategies.
Typically when the training concludes, the high school teacher feels prepared and simply needs to plan the day-to-day course instruction for their location using the provided source materials. Yes, this is a little more work for the teacher than the Bridge to College program, but once the lessons are planned, the second year and beyond only require minor updates and adjustments.
“Bridge to College Courses.” Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, OSPI, 16 Sept. 2016, http://www.k12.wa.us/curriculuminstruct/bridgetocollege/.
Copeland, Scott, and Jane Sherman. “College in the High School (CHS) OSPI Program Brief.” Director, Guidance and Counseling, OSPI, 11 Nov. 2014, college in the high school (chs) ospi program brief, http://www-test.ospi.k12.wa.us/SecondaryEducation/CareerCollegeReadiness/pubdocs/CollegeintheHighSchoolOSPIProgramBrief.pdf
Moore, Bill. “Bridge to College Preparing 11th Graders for College.” Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges, SBCTC, 16 Aug. 2016, http://www.sbctc.edu/about/agency/initiatives-projects/bridge-to-college.aspx.