Thursday, January 27, 2011
Providing Opportunities to High Level Learners in DCPS
The Post recently ran an article on a program that would allow students at School Without Walls and Wilson High School to take college courses during their junior and senior year, then attain a bachelors' degree in two years at the University of the District of Columbia. A similar program allows School Without Walls students to earn college credit in their final two years of high school, in order to complete an associates degree at George Washington University concurrently with their high school graduation. These two programs are great options to allow our city's brightest students to acquire college degrees in an accelerated format. The GWU program allows students to earn their associates degree without paying tuition, an exceptional benefit for students from financially challenged backgrounds. The programs both admit only a small pool of elite students (roughly 30, total), but hopefully these programs will be expanded to all DCPS high schools. It might also be advisable to include some component of service to the programs, whereby participating students must work in the community for some period of time with the skills that they have acquired in these programs. Tying service with education through these programs could lay the groundwork for a lifelong love of service to the community among our most academically gifted students (and hopefully will allow them to be role models for others with whom they interact during their period of service).
As we face an increasing budget crunch, it is imperative that DC government partner with local stakeholders such as area universities to pioneer programs such as these.
An additional idea might be allowing for accelerated completion of high school for advanced students. We cannot afford to stick to traditional models as we confront our massive budget shortfall. If students have the desire to complete high school on an accelerated basis, we are not currently in a fiscal position to compel them to remain for a senior year when they can complete the credits for that final year in an accelerated program. Again, this is a time for us to think creatively, as well as the time to present new options to our best and brightest students.
(Photo of Washington Math Science Technical High School Class of 2009 by Alex Wong/Getty Images)