On Thursday, North Daviess Junior/Senior High School was recognized by University of Indianapolis’ Center of Excellence in Leadership of Learning as a Fully Endorsed Early College provider. Only 30 high schools in Indiana have received this distinction. North Daviess Early College is a whole school model with a supportive partnership with Oakland City University. North Daviess has delivered dual credits for many years through Project Xcel and other sources, but only since 2009 when Oakland City University (OCU) and ND partnered has their early college flourished. Through a robust relationship with Oakland City University, students can earn an associate’s degree while in high school. Their partnership continues to grow through ongoing collaboration between ND teachers and Oakland City staff ensuring a rigorous instruction is provided for the ND students. ND has several staff members who meet the credentials required for teaching dual credit courses.
A common misconception is thinking that dual credit and early college are synonymous when they are not. The leadership team at North Daviess has worked hard to educate the staff on the eight core principles and how early college students need various types of support in math and language arts. They have made curricular adjustments based on student achievement data collected and even placed early college students in homeroom periods designed especially for them. During the homeroom period, early college students are able to spend twenty minutes per day involved in college readiness and character building experiences.
One of the eight core principles is data collection and analysis, which is a challenge for some early college programs. North Daviess has been very intentional about gathering follow-up data from graduates about transferability of their credits as well as overall preparedness. This spring, Beth Smith, ND guidance counselor, collected qualitative data from graduates dating back to the class of 2012. The surveyed students reported they felt very prepared; they mentioned the importance of completing four years of math while in high school; they shared that transferability was not a major problem; and many were able to enroll as second semester sophomores right out of high school.
In the words of one graduate, “I'd advocate for the ND/OCU relationship any day. Having my OCU degree allowed me to add a minor to my studies without having to add extra hours to my already 18 credit hours for all four years schedule.”
In addition to acquiring status as a Fully Endorsed Early College provider through CELL, North Daviess Principal Jed Jerrels actively pursues connections with the P-16 Center through the Workplace Simulation Project, Purdue at WestGate and STEM opportunities at Crane. Also, North Daviess continues to grow its programming with Ivy Tech in the areas of Project Lead The Way engineering, computer science, agri/horticulture and Ag power with the goal of moving toward students earning a certificate or technical certificate. North Daviess Superintendent Bob Bell is also very active and supportive in finding partnerships.
The North Daviess Early College program is a source of community pride and is certainly changing the lives of students. This year’s results are indicative of the impact their program has had. Forty-two of their 76 graduates left ND with an associate degree from Oakland City University, which is quite an accomplishment.