Pilot program creates direct path between CCPS, Cecil College
— 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.