The percentage of Baltimore City public high school graduates enrolling in college has been declining, and now hovers at 44 percent. In addition, fewer students are choosing four-year colleges, and 75 percent of those who do enroll in college require remedial coursework. Generally, only 30 percent of city high school graduates who enroll in college complete a two- or four-year college degree within six years. Access to dual enrollment---taking college courses while still in high school –has been severely limited for City Schools students – only 55 students participated in the 2014-15 school year.
Bard College in New York State has been strengthening college readiness since 2001, when the college opened its first early college public high school in Manhattan. Bard’s innovative early college model offers two years of an accelerated high school education in the ninth and 10th grades, followed by two years of credit-bearing college classes within a public high school during the 11th and 12th grades. Completion of the early college program enables graduates to receive advanced standing at four-year, post-secondary institutions, eliminating the need for remediation, accelerating the time to degree, and saving up to two years of college tuition.
Bard’s aim - to dramatically improve college access and completion among high-needs young people - presents a welcome opportunity in a city that has been struggling with under-performing high schools, and with college enrollment and completion. With start-up funding from the Abell Foundation and Open Society Foundation, Bard High School Early College Baltimore will open in fall, 2015, with 160 students and will grow to serve 500 high school students and features:
- Tuition-free, credit-bearing college courses, up to 30 college credits per year for two years;
- Highly qualified dedicated college-level faculty;
- Extensive individualized student supports and college guidance, including a Learning Commons with subject-specific tutoring coordinated by Bard Fellows, formal college advising, and weekly advisory classes on college level skills and habits of mind;
- Writing-based instruction based on Bard’s Institute for Writing and Thinking Skills;
- A rigorous liberal arts curriculum with intensive seminar classes comprising a two-year Seminar Sequence that deepens students’ knowledge and critical understanding of influential texts of Western Culture through discussion, close reading, and analysis; and
- A multi-dimensional admissions process that requires no academic criteria and looks for students with intellectual curiosity and an independent student “voice.”
Baltimore’s Bard Early College High Schools aims to have 90 percent of students graduate from high school with more than 70 percent of graduating students earn a Bard College associates degree at the time of high school graduation. Furthermore, 90% of Bard Baltimore graduates will matriculate to a college or university.