By Cleo Crank, Teacher, Greenville Technical Charter High Schools, Greenville, SC

“You haven’t made a fire till it has burned.

You haven’t made a dollar till it’s earned,

And no teaching has transpired,

If the child has not acquired,

You haven’t taught a child till he has learned.”


Swen Nater, NBA star player Inspired by John Wooden


Interns Working in Groups

High school seniors often excel in factual knowledge, but fall short in key academic behaviors. How can we better prepare our students for the “real world” of college and work? Greenville TCHS’s career internship program promotes a college career culture and helps make the senior year one that is challenging and meaningful.

“You can be anything you want to be!” Parents and teachers promote this idea every day. It is the American dream….. Right? The problem is, wanting something is not the same as achieving it, anymore than talent is the same as accomplishment. I will never be the next Monet. No matter how many watercolor classes I take or pictures I paint, it is not going to happen. My talent does not match my desire. Unless my dreams match my strengths, I will fail. We have all had students who want to be doctors, lawyers, astronauts, yet they cannot write a good paragraph or complete simple math equations. What about the students who have little aspiration but tons of talent and ability? Are we doing these students a service by encouraging them to be “ANYTHING YOU WANT”? Not really. How can teachers help students maintain their aspirations within a viable, realistic doable frame? Creating the Internship Program at GTCHS gave me the perfect venue to do just that.

Five years ago, I approached our principal about the possibility of starting an Internship program as an alternative to our required senior project. He suggested I do some research to see what other schools around the country were doing. I went to several conferences, talked to local businessmen, and read several articles and books on college/career readiness. Across the board, everything was positive but limited in practical application.

I was left to my own devices to create a program to meet our needs. I spent a summer putting together the current program that is designed for motivated high school seniors interested in a structured, on-the-job learning activity. In providing experiences in workplace settings, students develop workplace competencies, work amicably and productively with others, and acquire knowledge, skills, and attitudes they will need to be successful citizens in the 21st century. Students gain hands-on experience by working with professionals in their select career cluster. At the work site, students are supported by a company employee (community mentor) who directs their work and learning. To connect the work experience to school, each student sets college readiness goals.

Students undertake this internship program for a variety of reasons. As a form of independent study, students enjoy the opportunity to engage in a learning experience that augments classroom learning and extends beyond the traditional classroom walls. An internship is an excellent tool for testing out a career interest, giving students first-hand knowledge of a particular professional field. Most important, youth gain real work experience while learning how to conduct themselves in a professional workplace environment. They observe first-hand how skills relating to decision-making, problem-solving, teamwork and technology are employed on the job.

Greenville’s internship program is two semesters long. Most students come to the Internship program with some idea about a career. However, they spend the first three weeks doing on-line personality and career interest inventories. They reflect on the suggestions given by the inventories and how these suggestions influence their career choices. In addition, students do research on their top three college choices. They learn about required SAT scores, other admission requirements, degrees offered, tuition and fees, and availability of student aid. They chart their research and decide on colleges to visit.

During their internship time, students set both college and career goals each quarter and reflect on their progress at the end of each quarter. They also keep daily logs of their work experiences. In all of these reflections, one sees an upward curve of engagement. Students go from generalized ideas about their career and colleges to attend, to very specific career pathways and decisions on the college to attend. One sees the increased engagement in the internship as students go from being primarily observers to full-scale involvement in their work, complete with questions and suggestions for/from their mentors. In their writings you can just see their goals becoming much more specific and targeted and the upward curve of their own involvement in the internship.

In the relatively short time that the program has been in existence, the pool of mentors has greatly increased. In some cases, students or parents seek out mentors. In other cases, previous mentors are more than willing to work with new students. Mentors have had overwhelming positive experiences with students who are excited about their industry and the pleasure of learning about those careers.

I have some incredible success stories. Zach never had any intention of earning a bachelor’s degree. He wanted to work for the sheriff’s department and investigate crime scenes. After interviewing several professionals, he visited the Coroner’s office and did his placement there. Because of his success, he now wants to go to


Zach learning “hands on”

med school and become a pathologist. Devin knew he wanted to become a civil engineer. His mentor was not only a Kevinprofessional engineer but also taught upper level engineering classes at a Clemson University. Devin was able to participate in the University Engineer’s day along with the graduate students. Rebeccah did her placement at a high-end restaurant, was offered a summer job there and is headed to culinary school next semester. Kevin had his heart set on atten­ding the Air Force Academy and com­pleting Combat Rescue Officer School. Through the Internship pro­gram, he com­pleted more than 200 hours with the Emergency Medical Services and participated inall the emer­gency calls while with his mentor. Although Kevin did not get accepted into the Academy, he went to Clemson through the ROTC program and plans to attend Officer Candidate School upon graduation. He is right on target.

Students are assessed in a variety of ways. As part of the requirements, students research their particular career, set monthly goals, keep a daily log, and complete the required number of hours on site. At the end of the year, they meet for “conversation” with their advisor, another faculty member, the mentor and a colleague of the mentor. These four adults have the privilege of hearing about the student’s learning experience and conclusion about the career.

Feedback over the last three years has been very positive. In 2010 when the program began, I started with 20 students. The next year I had 22, and this year there are 31. The program is working. It is a win-win for all involved. The students begin to see a clear path, parents recognize a new sense of maturity and responsibility, the mentor is most impressed with our students, and I have the pleasure of watching all this unfold each year. On the last day for seniors each year, I have a seminar in which the students give me feedback about the experience. Most of the adjustments that have been made come directly from student suggestions. I even have mentors call me now to see it there is a student for this year. WOW!


Underutilized College Resources and High School-College Partnerships

By Sabine Zander, The National Center for Restructuring Education, Schools, and Teaching (NCREST)


It’s all about relationships. This was the consensus reached among participants of the NCREST workshop, “Taking Advantage of Underused College Resources and Support Services,” at the Middle College National Consortium Summer Professional Development Institute 2012. The four-person panel consisting of Deb Shanley, Dean of School of Education, Brooklyn College; Mary Abbott, High School Counselor, Career Education Center, Denver MCHS; Maria Estrada, College Counselor, Santa Ana College; Joyce Mitchell, Academic Director, Memphis City  Schools; shared strategies and obstacles encountered in developing school-college partnerships at their sites. This provided the context for an interactive discussion and follow-up activity with workshop participants on what can contribute to better partnerships between middle college high schools and colleges.


Partnerships with institutions of higher education are a key feature distinguishing middle college high schools from typical traditional high schools. Partnerships can take on many different forms, but typically stakeholders from the high schools, colleges, and sometimes other external organizations, work together to make key organizational, financial, and academic decisions that will determine the shape of the collaboration—and the school. In addition to being able to take college classes, middle college high school students typically have access to a range of college resources, such as college libraries, computer labs, and tutoring services. However, NCREST’s survey research has found that in many cases, early college high school students are underutilizing these college resources.


According to participants in the NCREST workshop, access to and use of college resources can be increased in two ways: 1) high schools can make students more aware of available college resources and help them to make fuller use of them (e.g. through informal visits to the college facilities or counseling sessions organized in collaboration with college staff) 2) stakeholders can improve the partnership between the high school and college by working together to create new agreements (e.g. putting a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in place about partners’ responsibilities or organizing monthly meetings with all stakeholders).


What factors influence the development of productive partnerships?


Multiple factors can influence the development of productive partnerships. Reports by Hughes, Mechur Karp, Fermin and Bailey (2005) and the New Schools Venture Fund (2007) emphasize that a perceived power balance among all partners is fundamental to any healthy partnership. In order to reach such a balance, there must be a clear understanding of the purpose of the partnership, roles, and a sense of commitment to the school’s success and sustainability. All the panelists participating in the NCREST workshop underlined the importance of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) or other agreements in formalizing the school-college partnership from the start. MOUs can help to outline important issues, such as financing, credit award, access to college resources and facilities, and other related issues (e.g. benefits for all partners involved) and provide a basis for smooth transitions when leadership changes at any of the partner institutions. Panelists also mentioned a college liaison as a key resource when it comes to managing these aspects of the partnership, and facilitating communication between the middle college high school and higher education institution (e.g. by resolving problems related to use of facilities, registrations etc. and working with high school students on education plans).


What are potential challenges associated with the partnerships and how can they be dealt with?


As in any other partnership, relationships between middle college high schools and colleges may experience difficulties that can have a negative impact on students. Vogt and Venezia (2009) outline certain issues that must be addressed in order to develop a healthy relationship between partners:


  • Potential resentment by college faculty toward teaching high school students
  • Understanding both college and K-12 standards and assessments
  • Avoiding teaching a “college lite” version of dual enrollment courses
  • Overextending faculty commitment and time
  • Clarifying relevant logistics (calendar, schedule, transportation)
  • Identifying appropriate faculty and providing support and/or professional development.


A participant of the NCREST workshop at the MCNC 2012 summer conference pointed out that, at her institution, the most problems arise when faculty at the college feel that the middle college high school is putting a strain on resources (space, money, etc.). Another participant expressed the concern that at his partner institution there is a lack of understanding among the faculty of what the early college program is about. In order to avoid such issues, staff at the high school should clearly communicate to the college staff the purpose of the middle college program to elicit support.


Many participants of the NCREST workshop at the MCNC 2012 summer conference expressed that communication must occur in the context of understanding the culture and context of each type of institution – K12, college, or business. Face-to-face meetings were mentioned as one of the most effective ways to have all partners express goals, needs and shortfalls in the current partnership to improve the high school students’ college experience. One participant shared how they organize monthly meetings at their school to which they invite everyone involved in the partnership. This forum serves to lead open discussions and resolve issues together.


Another workshop participant underlined the importance of gaining the college’s acceptance and understanding of the high school students’ potential. It is important to communicate high school students’ success to the college (e.g. high rates of students who graduate with an Associate’s Degree etc.) and to cultivate a sense of pride in the high school. Two participants shared that they spend considerable amount of time doing just this.


How much do MCNC schools’ students use College Support Services?


Participants of the NCREST workshop at the MCNC 2012 summer conference shared that their students often do not take advantage of the college resources provided to them. Data from the MCNC Graduating Student Survey 2012 illustrates how underutilized some college resources are.


The chart above shows, that half of the students never took advantage of tutoring and writing lab services at the college and a third of the students never visited an administrative office at the college or used instructors’ office hours in the past school year. It is also alarming to see that 13% of students have never used the college libraries and 63% of students have never participated in a club or association at the partner institution in the past school year.


During the workshop panel discussion and the follow-up activities working with the MCNC Graduating Student Survey 2012, workshop participants discussed ways to improve student use of college resources. They suggested that school staff first look into the reasons for students’ underutilization of available college resources, and offered possible reasons for this, including: lack of awareness, shyness and intimidation of the college environment, and/or possibly a belief that college resources have no value for them.


Which improvement would MCNC Early College staff like to see from their HS-College partners?

Participants of the NCREST workshop at the MCNC 2012 summer conference were asked to respond to the following question: “What is the one thing you would love to see put in place or have access to (in terms of resources, support, and access) for your organization, staff, students, programs from your partnering school/college?” Responses mentioned the most were the following:

  • Increased student access to college resources (e.g. facilities, labs, etc.) and academic and career counseling services (e.g. tutoring services).
  • Improvements in the communication between high schools and colleges, especially among high school and college instructors.
  • More public support and acknowledgment.
  • Sharing of information databases.
  • Working together to align curricula (including bridge courses).
  • Informal visits to the college campus for students who have never taken college level classes.
  • Middle college staff would also like to find ways to improve students’ knowledge of career fields and access to different kinds of community service, such as “real life exposure.”
  • More staff (counselors, tutors, academic advisors, security guards) in order to accomplish these goals.


Final thoughts


What can your school do to improve student use of college resources? You could start by assessing what kinds of college resources are available to high school students and which of these are underutilized. This may involve communication with students, faculty, and staff at your own school to learn about what resources they currently use and which they would like to use.


Documents and additional information from the NCREST workshop for middle college high school staff to use to start partnership improvement planning are available by contacting NCREST.




  • Hughes, K.L, Mecher Karp, M., Fermin, B.J. & Bailey, T.R. (2005); New Schools Venture Fund (2007). PUC schools: The design and implementation of an Early College High School Program. San Francisco, CA: New Schools Venture Fund
  • Vogt, K. and Venezia, A. (2009). College faculty engagement in early college. Paper presented at the American Educational Research Association, San Diego, CA.

Professor Linda Darling-Hammond To Give Keynote Address

Professor Linda Darling-Hammond

Professor Linda Darling-Hammond

Middle College National Consortium is pleased to announce that Professor Linda Darling-Hammond, the renowned Stanford University educator, will give the keynote address at MCNC’s 21st annual Winter Principals’ Leadership Conference. She will be available for a question and answer session subsequent to her keynote address. Professor Darling-Hammond is renowned for her work on school restructuring, teacher quality, and educational equity. In 2006 Professor Darling-Hammond was named one of the nation’s ten most influential people affecting educational policy for her work, What Matters Most: Teaching for America’s Future, that led to sweeping changes in teaching and teacher education. She created the Stanford Educational Leadership Institute and the School Redesign Network.

The MCNC Winter Principals’ Leadership Conference will be held from February 14-16, 2013 at the Newport Beach Hyatt Regency. This conference is open to, and appropriate for, all Middle and Early College High School leaders (both official and unofficial), non-Middle College small school leaders, school district staff, personnel from educational organizations, and college personnel involved in education.

The MCNC Winter Principals’ Leadership Conference is a perfect match with Professor Darling-Hammond’s experience. Her policy work has been a game changer. For those people desiring to learn more about the conference, or register, please visit the MCNC website site at:

Consortium Matters

Last Spring the Middle College National Consortium (MCNC) held a JAM (an online asynchronous conversation) ongI_77310_cece the role of Peer Review in teacher evaluation. Consensus was that leadership is needed to create a viable Peer Review Process. While we are in a society that wants results immediately, time is needed for a full implementation of the process while teachers learn to give and receive feedback from peers. The Peer Review Process is most effective when the entire staff works to implement an instructional practice to improve student outcomes. Lastly, Peer Review and evaluation can mix when multiple indicators are used for teacher evaluation and there is role clarity and professional development for implementation.

In September of this year the Chicago Teachers Union held a strike. The central issue was that a proposed evaluation system that places a high level of the evaluation on the test scores of the students, is unfair not just to teachers but also to the students. The Chicago Teachers Union eventually settled for a contract that based the evaluation on multiple measures with test scores counting for 30% of a teacher’s rating. This was the first test of the proposals that are currently underway in many states and districts to measure teacher effectiveness with student test scores. If this compromise sets a national agenda, then it is important for teachers to work to define the other measures that will be used for their evaluation.

The central question is, “what is the purpose of these evaluations?” Is it to hold teachers accountable for teaching or to fire teachers? Is it possible to do both?

Isn’t improvement in teaching the most important agenda item that the nation faces to raise the level of education and thereby provide a family living wage for all? MCNC has ample evidence that improvement in instruction comes from “just in time” feedback from respected educators, administrators, coaches, or other teachers.

Using a Peer Review process, that is valued and supported by the school leader and provides regular feedback from other teachers in the school, pays benefits way beyond test scores. Traditionally, teaching has been an isolated profession with professional development done by attendance at scheduled workshops. But like anyone learning a new skill, the role of practice and feedback is critical for improvement. A peer feedback support system that intentionally uses teacher time to visit other classrooms and provide feedback on instructional practice is an effective and cost efficient way to improve academic achievement. Most importantly it relies on the existing resources and expertise that our teachers bring to the work.

MCNC has documented that schools with Peer Review Programs that include a peer hiring system, regular inter visitation, formal feedback from peers and students in end of year teacher evaluations, have higher graduation rates than other schools in the cities in which they are located and have high rates of college credit accumulation for all graduates. For more information visit our website


By Wendy Samberg, Director of Instructional Design and Development, Gateway Community College, New Haven, CT

In New Haven, Connecticut, the city-wide drop­out rate for high school students exceeds 27%. We’ve known for too long that there’s a massive achievement gap in our state, but the elephant in our local community’s room has been the communication gap and lackluster strategies between the high schools and the college. Students who graduate from high school and enter Gateway or one of our state universities should feel confident that they’re ready and able to begin work toward higher educational goals. However, for more than 85% of those incoming freshmen, this has not been the case.

The Gateway Community College Middle Colleges

For high school graduates to succeed as college freshmen, we would need to forge a committed relationship between Gateway Community College and the New Haven Public Schools. We would need flexibility within the education policies and procedures to offer a variety of secondary school options. Our immediate goal was to increase high school and college graduation rates, without the need for remediation. To begin, we had to acknowledge some disheartening facts: Connecticut has the largest achievement gap in elementary and middle school in the nation. New Haven students fall behind in literacy and mathematics early in their academic careers, setting the stage for low performance. If students were going to be successful, we would have to actively help them “catch up.”

For successful projects, leadership is mandatory. Gateway’s President and the Superintendent of New Haven’s schools, agreed to a memorandum of understanding to support the partnership. We joined the Middle College National Consortium. We are consistently updated on national and local initiatives that involve best practices in dual credit programming. We chose three principals from very different high schools who showed interest in having their schools participate in a dual credit partnership with the college. All the agreed to a set of standard procedures including regularly scheduled meetings, testing students for baseline data using the College Board Accuplacer placement test and diagnostic test for more specific information conveying mastery or deficiencies in math and English. Co-Op students as freshmen

We agreed to a series of professional development sessions for both college faculty and high school teachers to be aware of each others’ perceptions and pedagogy. Together we attend the MCNC professional development conferences to stay current in our field. We hired professional liaisons to ensure daily communication between the college and high school classes and tutors to reinforce teacher lessons. We offer summer programming at the college so that students have a continuous educational experience, while earning up to nine college credits over six weeks.

Funding has been secured through grants and foundations and the College has waived the cost of fees. Ultimately, legislation at the federal and state level is needed to ensure long-term success.

All partners believe strongly what research has confirmed – that students who participate in academically challenging high school curricula are more likely to be successful in college. More often than not, rigorous courses are geared to an “elite” tier of high school students, leaving students with inadequate academic and social skill levels at a distinct disadvantage. The Gateway Middle Colleges promote an environment where students can learn the skills to be engaged, academically challenged, and to feel socially and emotionally secure.

Gateway Middle College Partnerships Common Components

  • Gateway seeks out students who might otherwise not have considered themselves “college material” to participate in a rigorous academic program beginning in 9th grade.
  • Students have the opportunity to accrue anywhere from 30 credits to a certificate or an associate’s degree. Programs are developed that complement the “theme” of the school.
  • Parent participation is an integral part of the program. There are two parent-student gatherings each semester and one before the summer. Parents are introduced to the faculty and given syllabi. Parents are part of a list serve that’s set up to keep information flowing back and forth.
  • Summer programs offer students a full day of programming for six weeks. Students can earn up to 9 college credits at the same time they are meeting new peers, professors and staff, and finding their way around the college campus.

Gateway Middle College at Co-op

The Cooperative High School for the Arts and Humanities (Co-Op) was Gateway’s first Middle College partnership. The students were selected as second semester freshmen on the basis of attendance and an interview. Students, with the support of Middle College, were able to successfully complete college courses at Gateway in the morning and during the summer and finish their high school requirements at Co-op. Four years later, they are graduating with upwards of 30 credits, entering college as sophomores.

Our students have been offered admission and scholarships to many colleges and universities including: Gateway CC, Manhattan College, Morehouse College, Penn State, Quinnipiac University, Smith, St. John’s University, Tuskegee University, and UCONN.

Gateway Middle College at Hillhouse

The after school partnership staff consists of two English teachers and two math teachers and a student teacher for each as an aide/tutor. The Parent Coordinator has been very successful in meeting with parents one-on-one, phoning families for all absences, and collaborating with other members of the team. The program meets 4 days per week (2 days of math and 2 of English) from 2:30 to 4 pm. Several students have sacrificed sports or other after school aspirations to focus on their academic growth. In addition, two computer classes are being taught for college credit.

All Hillhouse freshmen were given an assessment in December to determine strengths and weaknesses in areas of mathematics considered necessary prerequisites for college level math courses. The results of these assessments were used to develop focus areas for instruction in our two groups of after-school math classes. In March, after two months of the program, assessments indicate that one group advanced by an average of 14% and the other by an average of 28%. Both the group and individual progress is substantial for only two months.

Gateway Middle College at New Haven Academy

All NHA students participate in a four-year sequence of Facing History and Ourselves seminars, civics, and social justice courses. The Middle College at NHA works with the co-principals to find courses, for dual credit, that fit in with their curricula. This semester, students were enrolled in a Criminal Justice class taught by the former head of up the Correction Department’s academic programming. In addition to traditional coursework, students attended a court session with the presiding judge where they were able to view a voir dire session of potential witnesses.

The most exciting part of our student success plan is that it’s a continuum. It took years for the college community and our high school partners to realize that we are not going to win the achievement gap war with a single battle or strategy. It’s going to take all of us, armed with good will, a passion for our jobs, love for our students, respect for each other, motivation and a powerful resolution that, together, we’ll do what it takes to ensure our young people succeed in higher education.


Nancy Hoffman, Keynote Speaker 2012 Summer Institute

Renowned educator Nancy Hoffman from Jobs For the Future (JFF) will be the keynote speaker at MCNC’s annual Summer Professional Development Institute.  Ms. Hoffman works with JFF’s Early College High School initiative, a network of over 270 schools in 28 states, to expand opportunities for high school students to take college level courses and receive an Associate’s degree.

Dr. Hoffman’s book, Minding the Gap: Why Integrating High School With College Makes Sense and How to Do It (Harvard Education Press) is considered a classic in the field. Ms. Hoffman has held teaching and administrative posts at Brown, Temple, Harvard, FIPSE, MIT and elsewhere. She holds a B.A. and PhD in comparative literature from the University of California, Berkeley.  Dr. Hoffman’s most recent book, Schooling in the Work Place, makes the case for the necessity of work experience tied to college readiness for all high school students.

Consortium Matters


By Cecilia Cunningham, Director, Middle College National Consortium

New York State, like many other states, is looking for ways to fund tuition for early college students. Statistics from the New York state MCNC early colleges demonstrate that they are serving 78% of students that are eligible for free and reduced lunch and 90% children of color. If the state provides support by using existing Tuition Assistance Program funds for students in early colleges, all of our schools would be eligible for these resources. Since our early college students are not matriculated, the resources would be available to the schools directly. Currently the MCNC early colleges use a variety of funding sources including the per pupil allotment, CUNY waivers, and college and high school resources.  This funding stream is very important to the long-term sustainability of early colleges.

Some states are using monies designed for scholarships for underserved students such as the Hope Scholarship in Georgia. Like New York, the Georgia Hope Scholarship was in existence before the opening of early colleges and the funding was extended to early colleges. While these attempts to expand access to existing pools of money are very important, there is a high probability that these pools of money will not be given significant additional resources to fund all eligible students.

With 38% of MCNC early college students in New York State graduating with 20 or more college credits and 61% graduating with 12 or more credits, students are demonstrating both the capacity and the desire to work hard and be college ready. If the demand increases for dual enrollment for all students it might be time that we look at the way we are currently funding high school. Should the money follow the students to either internships sites or college? What kind of support must the schools provide for the students to make good use of the opportunities beyond the high school walls? In Middle Colleges, we have defined both the level and kind of support needed but not attached a cost to it. We are sure that students are hungry for challenging opportunities outside of the high school classroom.


Accelerating College Readiness

by Dr. Chery Wagonlander, Principal, and Amy Cox, English Teacher and GAPS Coordinator,

 Mott Middle Early College High School, at Mott Community College, Flint  MI.


Since transitioning to an early college, reflective practice has surfaced a greater need to accelerate the development of student college readiness. Where is the tipping point at which students lack college readiness? When do students really need to be college ready? In order to address these questions MMEC has re-envisioned the way in which it delivers core content and has pushed Dr. David Conley’s concepts into higher gear with the development of a new English II curriculum that was piloted two years ago and refined last year. The new course, co-created by Amy Cox and Katie Carr, MMEC English Teachers, seamlessly integrates Conley’s Key Cognitive Strategies into the ELA core content standards both transparently and deliberately.

It was important to introduce Conley to second year students in a relevant, transparent and meaningful way, rather than just plopping in isolated bits. One example is an assignment called Querencia. Students read a text called Querencia from the book Writing Toward Home in which a writer discusses her place of power. Querencia comes from the Spanish verb “querer,” which means, “to want”. This is both an academic exercise in descriptive writing, but also one that translates into college readiness. Students write two paragraphs. One paragraph describes a place where they feel a sense of power, a place where they can go to regain strength, to recover. The second paragraph describes their ideal place to write, to think, to be a scholar. One underlying objective of this assignment is to provide students with an opportunity for reflection, for meta-cognition. At the beginning of the year, their place of power is described in concrete terms, with sensory detail (in part because that is the nature of the assignment, but also in part because developmentally students are very concrete thinkers). Yet, by the end of the year, students realize that with the possession of knowledge comes power and that they now have become empowered. The place of power now resides within the self. Knowledge is power; Querencia is inside them.

Traditional vocabulary lessons are a vital part of the curriculum. The lessons are geared toward transparently and deliberately teaching college readiness vocabulary. What is the difference between a learning community, peer learning, and mastery learning? What do the words rigor, grit, resilient, collaborate, critical, analyze, assess, confer, bias, media, literacy, and dialogue really mean? This new curriculum values excellence and quality as its standard of learning, but uses mastery learning as a guiding principle. So, students who “bomb” a vocabulary test are allowed to re-take it on the following Tuesday after school to demonstrate mastery, replacing their old score with the new one.

Reflection or meta-cognition is a key cognitive strategy that is deliberately taught in the English II curriculum. From the very beginning of the year, students are constantly asked to reflect on their academic behavior and on their thinking strategies. Students write formal academic reflection essays at the beginning of the year, sometime mid year and at the end of the year. In addition, students are graded for their jottings in their daily planners. The weekly grading of students’ daily planners reinforces many positive academic behaviors that are inherent in successful scholars. The goal is to provide students with the opportunity to create positive habits involving deliberate reflection and planning. Students even write a poem about meta-cognition. Eventually, students learn that meta-cognition is not only for improving academic performance or making changes, but that meta-cognition can be used pro-actively as well to make wise, thoughtful decisions. The deliberate teaching of such a skill is an empowering tool for any scholar.


The English II curriculum balances the best of mastery learning and the middle college philosophies with the rigor of college readiness and the core content standards. As students take notes on ELA concepts, they do so using MLA outline formatting. As students copy definitions from their college readiness vocabulary lists, they do so using the hanging indent format for each entry as they would in an MLA Works Cited page. Rather than fearing the writing process of their first major research project, students work collaboratively to brainstorm ideas on a topic, organize ideas, develop questions, answer questions through research, sort evidence, develop theses, outlines and rough drafts. In other words, students collaborate on their first major research project from pre-writing to publishing in order to first gain confidence in using the process. The philosophy is that mastery follows confidence.

A culminating project of English II is the Introductory Portfolio in which students demonstrate their ability to be precise and accurate, as well as demonstrate the four major indicators of college readiness: contextual awareness, academic skills and behaviors, key cognitive strategies, and key content knowledge.








Dealing with what is considered an “at risk” population, the burden is on the teacher to make transparent the need to the student to become one with college readiness. Students want to learn, to improve. Students do care. Students have amazing dreams. As reflective practitioners, we can not worry about the lack of skill sets or progress a student has made prior to coming to us, we have only to greet the passion of the students in front of us and use that existing internal motivator as a guide to unlock the scholar within. Fish really can learn to ride bicycles.

Much of this college ready work began with our college counterparts. The early college English department teachers worked with the college English department faculty to discuss where MMEC students needed to be academically to succeed in English 101, the first level composition course, as well as other three-credit college courses. We have called this somewhat collaborative work Partners in Learning. In English II, we have organized panel discussions for our students and their parents, bringing in faculty from the college to discuss what it means to be college ready. Likewise, our Math department has developed its curriculum with the college end in mind. They have worked for a few years now with the college Math faculty. One part of the GAPS experience is to take a Math Module Test that was developed with the college. The idea is that our students need to seamlessly integrate into college Math and we have to know where we need them to be in order to do that. So, we work together so that when our students reach the second semester of Algebra II, they can take the college Math placement test and qualify to be placed into the next level college Math course.

With this re-design effort, MMEC has not lost the intense focus on creating and maintaining a culture of care and scholarship. The care is the affective component of every middle college and the scholarship is the Core Curriculum/David Conley-infused, college readiness piece that guides early colleges toward their mission.


Over the last five years, MMEC has worked purposefully to develop a college readiness curriculum that is vertically aligned with higher education expectations and requirements and developmental in nature. As a result, MMEC has written curricula for three levels of early college seminars that are required of all MMEC high school students. In addition, every MMEC employee is challenged to reflect on and verbalize how his or her “work” is different because MMEC has embedded MMEC college readiness practices and goals across the curriculum.


Henry Ford Early College First Commencement

Henry Ford Early College (HFEC)–a collaboration between Henry Ford Community College (HFCC), Dearborn Public Schools and the Henry Ford Health System (HFHS)-held its first commencement on May 10, 2012.

According to Cindi Scheuer, Henry Ford Community College instructor and HFEC liaison, 24 students are graduating, 14 of whom will receive an associate’s degree in addition to a high school diploma. Ten other students have completed more than 40 college credits, thus providing them with a head start on their college careers. Many graduating students have been accepted at major four-year colleges and universities, including the University of Michigan-Dearborn, Michigan State University, Wayne State University, Eastern Michigan University, Central Michigan University, even DePaul University in Chicago.

Dr. Gail Mee, president of HFCC, said that the achievement of these students ‘represents an important step toward a lifetime of success. It also shows that through strong alliances between business and educational partners, we can make a significant difference in the lives of all students. We are thrilled to celebrate the first graduation of Henry Ford Early College.’

One of six ‘middle/early college’ high schools announced in 2006 and initially funded by state grants, HFEC was successfully launched in 2007. Its purpose is to prepare students for employment opportunities in the healthcare field. Students can earn an associate’s degree or certificate in any of the following areas: Pharmacy Technology, Physical Therapy Assistant, Radiographer, Respiratory Therapist, Surgical Technologist, Paramedic, Nursing, Ophthalmic Technician, Medical Practice, Biotechnology, or Science. Students begin this five-year program in the 9th grade and complete it after five years. Upon graduation, qualified students are eligible for employment within the Henry Ford Health System.

In 2009, HFEC was the recipient of the Innovation of the Year Award at HFCC. The Innovation of the Year is a national initiative of the League for Innovation in the Community College, an international organization dedicated to catalyzing the community college movement with creative ideas and initiatives.

Henry Ford Early College is a member of the Middle College National Consortium (MCNC) and the Michigan Early and Middle College Association (MEMCA). To learn more about Henry Ford Early College, please contact HFEC at 313.317.1588, or visit

Supporting Middle-Early College Students in College Classes

Adapted from National Center for Restructuring Education, Schools, and Teaching (NCREST), Teachers College, Columbia University forthcoming publication entitled Ten Key Decisions in Creating Early Colleges: Design Option,bBased on research

by  Barnett, E., Bucceri, K., Hindo, C., and Kim, J.


All around the country, new middle and early colleges are opening their doors. Many of them are brand new schools; others involve existing schools that are adopting all or portions of the early college model. To help them to make decisions about how to structure their schools, NCREST drew on the existing research literature. Each of the following sections summarizes available research on a key question pertaining to student success in college courses.

What are the typical “starter” college courses for Early College students?

The type of starter course students take depends on the academic plan of the Early College.  It is common for students to start with “College 101” or a similar class that teaches skills needed for college.  Other common options are computer or arts classes.[i] Table 1 shows the enrollments of the 1,729 9th graders in 20 Early Colleges associated with the Middle College National Consortium in 2009-10.[ii] This provides a good idea of the “starter” college courses used in these schools.
















Should early college students take college courses singly or in groups?

 Across the country, Early College students most commonly start out taking their college courses in groups with other Early College students, and then become integrated into a regular college classes later on. Much depends on students’ maturity levels as well as on the policies of the college that influence what courses are open to Early College students and who pays for the courses. The following chart shows the distribution of Early College students in college courses in 2007-08.[iii]


What types of support are common in Early Colleges?

Common academic supports include extra help from teachers, tutoring, and studying with peers. Graduating seniors who participated in an MCNC end-of-year survey indicated that they had received the following kinds of academic support at least once a week during the 2009-10 academic year.[iv]









Some of these were rated by students as more helpful than others as shown in Figure 3 (note that students who did not participate are not included in the percentages).




To assist students undertaking college courses, many Early Colleges offer seminar, designed to help students “unpack” college-level coursework, navigate college systems, and receive academic, personal and social support. In one study, students reported that seminar provided step by step support in “doing” college. The support that they received was not limited to academic issues, though. Students explained that seminar was a place to obtain personal support or to solve other types of problems, including those that might occur within their families.[v]

Another study looked at the most common features of seminar in MCNC Early Colleges.[vi] These included:

Targeted students– Seminar was specifically designed to support college course-taking students. In all but one school, which required all students (college course-taking and non-college course-taking) to participate in a seminar designed around the AVID curriculum, this was the case.

Frequency and duration– In the majority of schools, seminar occurred 1- 4 times per week. Many schools scheduled seminar on alternating days with college course(s) meeting times. In these cases, scheduling depends on how often the college course met and for how long. However, since not all students take college courses, nor are all students enrolled in the same college courses, some schools must schedule seminar wherever students have schedule openings.

Credit and assessment Just over half of schools offered seminars for high school credit, ranging from 0.5 – 3.0 credits.

Curriculum and materials Aside from one school’s use of AVID, few utilized a specific curriculum. In most schools, seminar used teacher- and/or counselor-developed lessons addressing particular topics (i.e. “college knowledge” such as using a syllabus, time management, when to ask for help, reading a college textbook). Other seminars were directly tied to specific college courses and reinforced what was being taught in the course. Still other seminars incorporate supplemental materials such as test preparation books and college readiness or “College 101” publications.

[i] Nodine, T. (2009). Innovations in college readiness: How early colleges are preparing students underrepresented in higher education for college success. Washington, D.C.: Jobs for the Future.


[ii] NCREST (2011b). Middle College National Consortium ECHSI Integrated School Survey Data 2009-2010. New York, NY: Teachers College.


[iii] American Institutes for Research & SRI International (2008).2003–2007 Early College High School Initiative evaluation: Emerging patterns and relationships. An Evaluation for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Washington, D.C.: AIR.


[iv]  NCREST (2010). 2009-10 Aggregate MCNC Senior Student Survey Data. New York, NY: Teachers College.


[v] Spence, K., & Barnett, E. (2006). Supporting high school students in the transition to college. New York, NY: Teachers College

[vi] Hindo, C., Barnett, E., & Kim, J. (2010). Seminar: A support program for high school students undertaking college courses. New York: NCREST, Teachers College