By Reggie Ellis
LINDSAY– Lindsay High School has long provided its students with the means to pay for some of their college classes with scholarships. But now the school is hoping students will be able to lower the cost of college by completing a full year’s worth of units before graduating from high school.
Lindsay High School is launching its Cardinal Early College Academy (CECA) this semester with the goal of helping its learners (Lindsay Unified School District’s name for students) to complete a year’s worth of college credits during the course of high school.
Principal George Tapanes said the program will help students jump-start their collegiate careers through an existing partnership with College of the Sequoias’ (COS) dual enrollment program. The program allows local high school students to take college classes at their own high school by COS professors. If they pass the class, students can apply the earned credits, usually between 3 and 4 units, toward a degree or certification program at COS or transfer them to other colleges and universities in California.
“It helps them with the decision making process of whether or not to go to college,” Tapanes said. “You get them into a class they are interested in and it may help them decide what to major in or what not to major in.”
CECA will be linked with LHS’ AVID program. AVID, which stands for Advancement Via Individual Determination, is a nonprofit that trains 80,000 educators annually to close the opportunity gap and prepare all students for college, careers, and life. Learners will be required to take at least one AVID course per semester to remain eligible for CECA.
Tapanes said the goal is to enroll 20 learners into the initial group of CECA students this fall with the goal of signing up 25 learners at each grade level of high school. It shouldn’t be hard as Lindsay High School already offers more dual enrollment courses and has a higher percentage of dual enrollment students than any other local high school.
Lindsay is one of 22 high schools in Tulare and Kings Counties to offer dual enrollment through COS. Lindsay High School offers more college courses (12) than any other high school and double what other Tulare County high schools are offering through COS. Most of the courses are good for three units of college credit and include entry level college English courses as well as animal science for livestock, medical terminology, and even wedding flower arrangements.
Ken Spencer, LUSD’s vice president of college and career, said 12.9% of Lindsay High School learners took at least one dual enrollment class and more than a quarter (29%) of juniors and seniors enrolled in the COS courses taught on high school campuses.
“The number of juniors and seniors should be closer to 50% by the time the class of 2020 graduates,” Spencer said.
Tapanes said students have always had the option of taking Advanced Placement (AP) classes for college credit but completing the course with good grade does not translate into units at a four-year college. In order to qualify for college credit, students must complete the class, and then pay for and take a test on which they must score at least a 3 out of 5 to earn credit. And, in some cases, that may not be enough.
“Some colleges are now requiring a 4 on the test instead of a 3,” Tapanes said. “So taking the class has even less of a guarantee that you will earn college credits.”
As a former AP teacher, Spencer said students who did well in his AP classes didn’t always do well on the placement test, or any test for that matter. He said dual enrollment offers students a chance to take a class, complete it with a C or better and get the college credit without everything riding on a single test.