By Pat Grubb
Blaine High School students wanting to accumulate college credits before graduating from high school will have new options in the upcoming academic year, high school principal Scott Ellis told Blaine school district board members on Monday, March 27.
Currently, the district offers four college credit pathways to students: two tech prep courses, nine Advanced Placement (AP) courses and two College in the Classroom (CIC) and Running Start courses. The district is working to bulk up its CIC options from Math in Society and Pre-Calculus to include junior and senior English, U.S. History, senior Civics, Psychology, Calculus and Advanced Art. The additions would allow students to earn up to 30 college credits in each of their junior and senior years.
There has been a significant jump in students taking Running Start courses, Ellis told school board members, attributing it to parents looking for an earlier start and avoiding some of the high costs of college. CIC credits are guaranteed college credits, he pointed out, whereas AP credits aren’t, necessarily.
“We’re proposing that students pay the same $80 fee for a five-credit class that they pay for Running Start classes,” Ellis advised the board, and listed the advantages CIC courses have both for the student and the district.
For the student, CIC books and supplies are paid for by the district whereas those costs can be over $100 per class for Running Start. Also, transportation expenses, driving time and risk are reduced when the student remains on campus.
The student takes classes with their own age cohort and doesn’t have to juggle two academic calendars. There is more access and support for seniors when applying to college, financial aid and scholarships and better parent and school access to student progress and support services when the student requires help, he said. Ellis pointed out that current Running Start first quarter grade point averages for juniors are 0.77 points lower than their ninth and 10th grade cumulative GPAs.
From the district perspective, having the students remain on campus has a positive impact on school climate and allows the district to retain the state apportionment student funding. Ellis said feedback from college admissions officers indicated there would be no difference in how four-year public schools view AP, RS or CIC courses during the admission process.
Summing up, Ellis told the board, “I’m very excited. It’s kind of a brave new world for high schools.”