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