Pi­lot pro­gram cre­ates di­rect path be­tween CCPS, Ce­cil Col­lege

Cecil Whig - - & - By JES­SICA IANNETTA

ELK­TON

jian­netta@ce­cil­whig.com

— A new pi­lot pro­gram is al­low­ing Ce­cil County Pub­lic School grad­u­ates to en­roll in credit cour­ses at Ce­cil Col­lege with­out first hav­ing to take place­ment tests or re­me­dial classes.

Launched this fall, the two-year pi­lot pro­gram al­lows CCPS grad­u­ates who have at least a 3.0 weighted GPA in math and English classes and an over­all weighted GPA of at least 2.75 to en­roll di­rectly into credit cour­ses at Ce­cil Col­lege. Typ­i­cally, stu­dents would have to take place­ment tests or other tests such as the Ac­cu­placer or SAT to show that they’re ready for credit cour­ses and don’t need re­me­dial classes.

“This is a re­ally neat op­por­tu­nity,” said Jeff Law­son, CCPS as­so­ci­ate su­per­in­ten­dent of ed­u­ca­tion ser­vices. “This is giv­ing a lot of our stu­dents who might not get 1,000 on their SATs the chance to come in and prove their stuff at Ce­cil Col­lege.”

Law­son and Diane Lane, Ce­cil Col­lege vice pres­i­dent of stu­dent ser­vices and in­sti­tu­tional ef­fec­tive­ness, dis­cussed the new pi­lot pro­gram dur­ing a joint meet­ing be­tween the CCPS and Ce­cil Col­lege boards on Mon­day night. The two or­ga­ni­za­tions hold a joint meet­ing an­nu­ally to ex­change in­for­ma­tion about their re­spec­tive in­sti­tu­tions and dis­cuss cur­rent and fu­ture part­ner­ships.

The pi­lot pro­gram cur­rently con­sists of 100 stu­dents, and 88 of those stu­dents placed di­rectly into credit cour­ses based on their high school grades, Lane said. These stu­dents will be com­pared to stu­dents from pre­vi­ous years as well as those who placed into credit cour­ses us­ing the Ac­cu­placer. The grades of the stu­dents in the pi­lot pro­gram will be mon­i­tored through­out and the whole pro­gram will be re-as­sessed in spring 2018, Lane said.

One of the big­gest ben­e­fits of the pi­lot pro­gram is that it gets rid of the place­ment tests stu­dents typ­i­cally have to take, which can be a bar­rier to col­lege for many stu­dents. Lane noted that many Ce­cil Col­lege stu­dents are first gen­er­a­tion col­lege stu­dents and the idea of tak­ing tests “re­ally puts them off” and causes them anx­i­ety.

Re­mov­ing place­ment tests will also al­low stu­dents to skip over the re­me­dial cour­ses they might not need and get their de­gree faster, Lane said.

“A lot of stu­dents have re­ported back, ‘I get caught in this re­volv­ing door of tak­ing col­lege prep cour­ses. I know I can do this,’” she said.

Board of Ed­u­ca­tion Pres­i­dent Dawn Branch praised the new pi­lot pro­gram for get­ting away from the test­ing mind­set and said she hopes the data will sup­port it.

“I think any time you mea­sure stu­dent suc­cess not through a test but you look at the achieve­ment they al­ready have, then that’s the di­rec­tion I’ve al­ways wanted to go in and I think my fel­low board mem­bers would agree with that,” she said.

In many ways, the new pi­lot pro­gram builds on ex­ist­ing part­ner­ships be­tween CCPS and Ce­cil Col­lege, in­clud­ing the dual en­roll­ment pro­gram, which al­lows stu­dents to take cour­ses that count for both high school and col­lege credit. The cour­ses can be taken at the high school, at the col­lege or by us­ing the se­nior op­tion waiver and stu­dents re­ceive a 50 to 66 per­cent schol­ar­ship to­ward tu­ition costs.

Ad­di­tion­ally, the two or­ga­ni­za­tions just signed six new ar­tic­u­la­tion agree­ments and Lane ex­pects that the new state-man­dated col­lege readi­ness cour­ses CCPS started this year will also help pre­pare more stu­dents to take Ce­cil Col­lege classes.

Both Law­son and Lane stressed that the new pi­lot pro­gram is about giv­ing stu­dents more op­por­tu­ni­ties af­ter high school grad­u­a­tion as they de­cide what di­rec­tion they want to go in life. In re­cent years, CCPS has de­vel­oped a “not yet” mind­set that em­pha­sizes that stu­dent growth hap­pens or­gan­i­cally and that ev­ery­one de­vel­ops at a dif­fer­ent pace, Law­son said.

“We now have an agree­ment set up and a sys­tem set up where the stu­dents can come out of (CCPS) and into (Ce­cil Col­lege) with an op­por­tu­nity to con­tinue their de­vel­op­ment, know­ing that at 17-years-old, these kids are not fin­ished prod­ucts,” he said.

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