Starting next year, high school students in Washington D.C will be offered a new option that allows students to get their associate degrees and their high school diploma at the same time.
In a partnership with Bard College in New York, the city is planning to open a new school called the Bard Early College High School to enact this plan.
This school will be a tuition-free, four-year early college high school.
Mayor Muriel Bowse and interim school chancellor Amanda Alexander hopes a liberal arts college curriculum can invigorate high school students who are living in neighborhoods that are plagued with high dropout rates. This plan also has goals in meeting the demands of many families who advocate for more rigorous education options.
“With Bard High School Early College, we are answering the community’s call for more early college options and building new pathways to college for our young people,” Mayor Muriel E. Bowser said in a news release announcing the partnership Wednesday.
This new school will open with around 150 students. Instead of conventional ways of admission that require test scores or grades, this will be based on an essay and an interview.
Bard Early Colleges associate vice president Clara Haskell Botstein told The Washington Post that the school is looking for students who are “not necessarily perfect on paper, but students who demonstrate a spark of intellectual curiosity. We seek out and identify talent in nontraditional ways.”
How Will The School Operate?
VP Botstein said that the school sought teachers who hold doctorate degrees and college teaching experiences. When hired, they will be considered as associate professors on the District’s payroll.
The school will offer many courses such as humanities, science, and math. Students will also be required to write more papers and will be assigned reading at home to be prepared for discussions in classes. Jeremiah Kouka, a senior at Bard High School Early College in Baltimore, said one difficulty he faces is keeping up with the amount of reading given, but the school has helped him keep pace.
“Our homework consists of essays and reading different texts. It’s a lot of work, but it’s enjoyable,” he said. “When everyone collectively does their part, the discussions are very beautiful.”
Kouka has goals of becoming a nurse in the future.
Graduates of the school will also have the opportunity to earn 60 college credits that are transferable to any four-year colleges.
“We are confident that our model, in which the first two years of college are integrated into the four-year high school curriculum, will succeed in this forward-looking school system,” Bard College president Leon Botstein said.