School board hears report on Early College program

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 1, 2009

By Maggie Blackwell
The Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education heard a report from Early College Monday night and approved a field trip to Germany.
Cindy Misenheimer, principal of the program, gave an overview of its first year. Students attend high school and college courses on the campus of Rowan Cabarrus Community College. Those who complete the program graduate high school with a two-year college degree.
Misenheimer reported on the school’s end-of-course test results. All students who took the geometry test passed it. The English I test was ultimately passed by 98.5 percent. Algebra had a 97 percent pass rate.
College courses had lower pass rates. Only 78 percent passed the ACA class, which prepares students for the college experience. College level PE had a 77 percent pass rate. Students who failed the PE class will have to take it again. “We are in a learning curve, too,” remarked Misenheimer, referring to faculty at the new program. “We are learning how to best support these students in this environment.”
The program started last fall with a freshman class of 75. In fall of this year, the school will double in size as a new freshman class of 75 students enters. Administrators are working with the college to add 3 classrooms, office space and a commons area.
Many students who attend the school might not have been college-bound otherwise. Some will be first-generation college graduates in their families, Misenheimer said.
Middle school guidance counselors have been contacting students who will likely be interested in attending the program next year. A total of 121 students have applied for Early College. They will be interviewed next week. Names of those who pass the interviews will be sent to the state for a lottery-style selection of the 75 who will be accepted for admission in the fall. Acceptance letters will be mailed the end of March.
In related business, the school board approved Misenheimer’s request for a field trip to Germany in June of 2010. Early approval was necessary so that students can save the $2,723 necessary to go, or make installment payments in the intervening 18 months.
Early College has invited parents to attend the trip, as well, hoping to have a group of at least 18 people to qualify for a private tour.
Board member Patty Williams expressed concern about the trip. “Aren’t there places in the United States these kids have not seen?” she asked. Her concerns were based on the economy, the age of the students and the distance, she said. The students, freshmen and sophomores, will range in age from 14 to 16. “I am not opposed to the trip, only concerned,” Williams added.
Misenheimer indicated the school is also sponsoring a trip to Washington, D.C. for the students, adding, “Everyone should see Washington.”
School board member Jean Kennedy suggested students who have difficulty paying for the Germany trip may be able to find sponsors to help with the expense.
The board approved the trip, with Williams and fellow school board member Karen South Carpenter voting against it.