PERU — Peru High School is beefing up its dual-credit program in hopes of joining the 20 schools across the state that have been named “early college” high schools, the superintendent announced this week.
If it’s accepted into the early college program, Peru will be the only high school in the region to offer it to students.
Schools in Columbus, Bloomington, Greenwood, Indianapolis, Franklin, Evansville, South Bend, Washington, Clayton, Whiteland, Richmond and Connersville are already a part of the program that helps students earn at least a year of college credit before graduation.
Peru wants to be added to that list, and with 20 dual-credit courses being offered at the high school already, Superintendent Chuck Brimbury said the school is well on its way.
“We’re already leading this part of Indiana in dual credits,” Brimbury said. “Now, we’ve begun discussions to look at being an early college high school. It’s one of the most exciting things we can offer our students.”
The school will undergo a yearlong evaluation process to see if it meets the program’s core principles, Brimbury said.
That includes offering 10 dual-credit courses that are accepted by all seven public colleges in Indiana, Brimbury said. Peru is developing those courses right now.
The school currently offers dual-credit classes in English, science, math, social studies, art, music, engineering and in biomedical and technical areas.
It’s not enough just to offer the courses, though.
According to the early college initiative, early college schools must be committed to serving and supporting students underrepresented in higher education, and that underrepresented population must be the majority focus of the schools’ programs.
For every 100 low-income students who start high school nationally, only 65 will receive a high school diploma, according to statistics provided by the early college high school initiative. Of those 65 students, only 45 will enroll in college and only 11 will complete a degree, the statistics showed.
The University of Indianapolis Center of Excellence in Leadership of Learning completed a case study two years ago on one early college high school.
The high school said the early college program was successful there because teachers provided additional “scaffolding and support” to students.
One teacher had students filling out mock college applications and writing college admissions essays. She also worked diligently to get them registered for the SAT.
At the beginning of the semester, one of 16 students was registered for the SAT. By the end of the semester, 11 had taken the exam and several had been accepted into colleges, according to the case study.
One teacher wanted to prepare students for the real world, the case study said.
“I told them ... my goal, and maybe you are going to hate me all year long, ... is that ... in August of 2010 you are going to sit in a college class and pass it because I gave you the tools and equipped you to do it without me,” the teacher said in the case study.
Brimbury said if Peru becomes an early college high school, students would start taking college classes their freshman year.
“It gets students vested in the next level of education,” Brimbury said of the program. “It gives them confidence that they can succeed in college.”
The program touts national success. According to the program, 77 percent of early college high school graduates enroll in a four-year college, two-year college or technical program after graduation.
Brimbury said the district has worked for five years to set itself up for this program.
“This is really cool for parents,” he said. “And this could hit 100 percent of our kids.”
• Lindsey Ziliak, Tribune education reporter, may be reached at 765-454-8585 or email@example.com.