Beginning fall 2005, Augusta State University will be at the forefront of a new movement in high school education. Thanks to a $450,000 grant from the Gates and Woodruff foundations, 100 area 9th grade students will begin their college careers at the same time they start high school.
“If you think of high school in terms of 9th through 12th grades, this would be 9th through 14th grades,” says Dr. Gordon Eisenman, chair of the Department of Teacher Development, who wrote the grant proposal. “It will take students four or five years to finish depending on when they are ready to take certain courses but when they graduate from high school they will have earned two years of college credit.”
The concept of the early college is similar to existing advanced placement and international baccalaureate programs. However, the early college program is an individualized learning experience — when students are ready to take college-level courses, they will. The program is also intended for underserved students — those from urban and rural areas and those who are first-generation college. Those in the program will be integrated into the ASU campus life more each year, slowly becoming a part of the university’s student population. Each year a new class of 9th graders will be added until the program is serving students in grades 9-12.
A cooperative effort between the university and the Richmond County School System, the new school will be housed at the William Robinson Center — recently vacated. Dr. Eisenman credits the long history of partnering with the Richmond County School District as a contributing factor toward ASU being chosen for this pilot program.
Planning is still in the early stages and is being led by Dr. Charles Jenks, associate professor of social science education, who will help design the curriculum assessment portion; Dr. Mary Jane Anderson, assistant professor of counselor education, who will help address counseling and support services; and Dr. Eisenman, who will head up the implementation team.
“Implementing this school plan is a daunting task, and we will need the support and participation of many others on campus,” Dr. Eisenman says. “This is an ASU initiative — not just the College of Education.”
While funding for the setup and operation of the program will be covered by grant money, fees for students’ books and activities will be covered by Accel, an arm of the HOPE scholarship. The program will come at no cost to the students or their parents.
“The program highlights our commitment to service,” says Dr. Thomas Deering, dean of the College of Education. “ASU is a natural fit for this type of program. We’re right in the middle of a community with a large underserved student population. To be able to cooperate with a local school system and offer these children an opportunity they didn’t have allows for them to start building their future earlier.”
ASU will be one of only two universities in Georgia to pilot the program in fall 2005. Four other universities will introduce the program in 2006.
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Last Modified: December 23, 2004 by K. Smith
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