Traditional notions of four year high school are being modified as students find that an extra year of high school can mean a free year of college. How is this possible?
Redmond High, West Albany High and Dallas High are among Oregon schools where students are encouraged to sign up for a fifth year — that’s really a first year of community college.
The state continues to pay the host school district about $6,500 per student, and the district in turn uses the money to pay for three terms of community college tuition, fees and books, making the year free for students.
The district ends up with enough left to hire a counselor or adviser to guide the first-year college students, monitoring their grades, helping them enroll each term and advising them about careers.
The idea is that by easing students’ transition and making the first year free, high schools get more students to try college and more to stick with it, said Frank Caropelo, assistant superintendent of Greater Albany Schools, which launched the program in partnership with Linn-Benton Community College this school year.
“That is moving the dial on 40-40-20,” the state’s goal of having 40 percent of young adults earn four-year degrees and another 40 percent earn two-year degrees or industry-recognized credentials, Caropelo said.
In Dallas, where a similar program has operated in partnership with Chemeketa Community College for about seven years, more than one-third of students in the class of 2013 are taking part.
Many who sign up are the first in their families to try college, and they value the hands-on help from Chemeketa officials and Dallas High’s coordinator, said Brian Green, assistant principal at Dallas High.
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