Dunbar High School will become an early college academy next week, offering students the chance to earn dual high school and college credit for college-level classes taken at their own school building.
Leaders of Dayton Public Schools and Sinclair Community College announced the program Friday, adding that the partnership has logistical and financial support from Learn to Earn Dayton, and will be free to students.
“We are creating a college-going culture, a culture of high expectation, where every student succeeds and has earned some college credit before graduating from high school,” DPS Superintendent Lori Ward said. “The only cost to students and parents is their commitment and hard work.”
Sinclair President Steve Johnson said the program should improve students’ rate of college enrollment, reduce the dropout rate and reduce the cost of college. He and Ward both called the program “the right thing to do.” Johnson added that a goal is to eliminate the “Grand Canyon” that some students see between high school and college, especially for students in the greatest need.
Sinclair spokesman Adam Murka said the college has partnerships with numerous high schools in the area, including extensive involvement with Dayton’s Ponitz Career Technology Center. Many of those programs, like the Post-Secondary Enrollment Option, require students to travel to Sinclair to take college classes. A few, such as dual enrollment that Murka says will be available in 14 schools this fall, allow students to earn high school and college credit at their own school.
David Lawrence, chief of school innovation at DPS, said Dunbar enrollment is already 90 students ahead of last year just on the rumor of early college, adding that the school could handle up to 200 more students.
Lawrence said every Dunbar student will be eligible for the program, but added that it will start slowly, as only a few Dunbar teachers are currently being certified as adjunct professors by Sinclair.
“As we change staffing here, one of the possible requirements could be that in order to teach at Dunbar, you have to have a master’s degree in your content area, (so you can be a Sinclair adjunct professor),” Lawrence said. “The goal is to have all of the staff adjunct-certified, so that students will have a chance at any point in their schedule to receive college credit.”
Those credits will be transferable to any public college or university in Ohio. Ward pointed to one 2013 Ponitz graduate who earned her high school diploma and an associates degree from Sinclair in the same week.
“Our students want it, and they can do it,” Ward said.
Dunbar’s first day of classes is Thursday.