Enquirer Herald

York schools to launch Early College program next fall

Educators in York expect to enroll about 45 York Comprehensive High School students in a new program that would allow them to earn up to 31 hours of college transfer credit before they graduate from high school.

The four-year Early College program, a partnership between the York school district and York Technical College, is expected to begin with ninth-grade students in fall.

“It’s a very difficult program,” said YCHS Principal Chris Black, who said the program is designed for the district’s most high-achieving students.

“When these students finish high school, they are going to be as prepared for college as any major group of students that we have put out,” Black said.

Black said the program, which features a four-year course progression, has been under discussion for several years. He said district leaders and York Tech made concrete plans during the past year.

Black said York leaders are in the process of identifying current eighth-grade students who would be the first group to begin the program.

“It’s a way of challenging kids,” said Superintendent Vernon Prosser.

Black told school board members last week that students qualify for the program based on test scores and GPAs. He said that all classes would be offered at the high school and count as graduation requirements. Students who enroll in the program would be required to meet certain grade requirements to remain in it.

Black said leaders identified 130 potential Early College students last fall. Of those, he said, 72 applied to the program.

He said he expects a final pool of about 45 applicants to quality based on Measure of Academic Progress test scores and End of Course scores and grades in English and math.

Students who don’t qualify for the program can still earn college credit through Advanced Placement or dual-credit classes offered at the school, he said.

Black said the program is unique because of its academic rigor. Students begin the program with honors classes in ninth grade and begin to take AP or dual-credit classes the following year.

Those who complete the program, Black said, could earn up to 31 hours of college credit that would transfer to a South Carolina state school.

Prosser said the district, which would cover the cost of dual-credit classes, has negotiated a tuition cost with York Tech, some of which leaders are seeking grants to fund.

Black said the new Early College program is different from the district’s Middle College program, now in its fifth year. That program, funded by a grant, targets first-generation college students who take college-credit classes at the high school and at York Tech.

Black said York’s Middle College program currently has 20 students, who are taking 12 semester hours each at York Tech.

Black said 82 percent of York’s Middle College students earned a C or better in their college courses, and 76 percent continued post-secondary education after graduating from high school.

Jennifer Becknell •  803-329-4077