Eagle County Schools Expands, Improves Dual Enrollment With Multiple Grants

Students attend Amy Poppie’s Statistics Lecture at Colorado Mountain College’s Vail Valley Edwards Campus. Eagle County Schools’ close partnership with the college has resulted in significant growth and value to its Dual Enrollment Program, one of its post-secondary preparation programs.
Colorado Mountain College / Courtesy Photo

Over the past two years, Eagle County Schools has received three rounds of Dual Enrollment Expansion Grants to develop and improve its dual enrollment offerings. Through this increased focus and close partnership with Colorado Mountain College, the local district has become a statewide leader in space.

“As a percentage, we have a higher percentage of our students involved in ED [dual enrollment] classes than any other district in the state, ”Katie Jarnot, assistant superintendent of the district’s curriculum, said at a school board meeting in October.

Over the past two years, the local district has dedicated resources and time to expanding its dual enrollment offerings as one of the ways to prepare students for the future they aspire to.

The district coordinates closely with Colorado Mountain College its dual enrollment program, which allows high school students to earn high school and college credits simultaneously. Eagle County Schools also pays tuition fees for students who successfully complete the courses.

In the 2019-2020 school year, 618 students in the district were enrolled in dual enrollment classes, or 32% of high school students in the district. And this year, in early spring 2021 at Colorado Mountain College, 37 high school students in Eagle County graduated from the college.

The success of the program, according to Jarnot and Trisha Forman, the district’s dual enrollment expansion coordinator, can be attributed to its relationship with Colorado Mountain College as well as the large number of teachers able to teach both at high school and college level.

Overall, the program not only provides students with additional academic rigor and confidence, but it also allows students to take college courses and receive college credit – much of which is transferable to other colleges – while still in high school. These courses allow students to take courses in areas of interest such as auto (and bicycle) mechanics, nursing and, next fall, construction. This program, Jarnot and Forman said, is just one avenue in which the district prepares its students for life after college.

“One of the biggest lessons, or reminders, of the research is that DE is one of the many avenues we offer our students in the area of ​​post-secondary and career preparation. And so, that being said, while these themes have been specifically identified in relation to research on dual enrollment, they actually relate to a number of our other programs and our entire post-secondary system, ”Forman said at the time. of the school board meeting in October.

Grants funded growth opportunities

The three iterations of the Dual Enrollment Expansion Grants funded a wide variety of opportunities that allowed the district’s dual enrollment programs to grow and prosper. The 2019-2020 grant funded the reimbursement of tuition fees for teachers in the district to achieve dual enrollment certification, which allowed the district to offer more subjects and sections.

The 2020-2021 grant funded research to answer several questions about the program, including how to make it more inclusive, what pushes students to take dual enrollment courses compared to AP courses, and how the district can help students. to be successful in dual enrollment and AP courses. This cycle also funded a curriculum review of its dual-enrollment American history course.

As a result of this grant opportunity, the district engaged Forman to answer these research questions. And as part of the most recent 2021-2022 grant, Forman’s position has been renewed to help implement research results from the previous iteration.

However, another grant – the Sync Up grant, which was awarded to the district alongside YouthPower365 and the Vail Valley Partnership – will allow the district to fund his position in the future. This funding is closely tied to the district’s dual enrollment progress as it was allocated to the collaborative project to strengthen post-secondary and career readiness for youth in the region.

Through his research, Forman sought to better understand who enrolled in these dual-enrollment programs, to ensure that student participation in the programs represented the demographics of the district, and to seek opportunities to improve, not only dual enrollment, but all post-secondary institutions and career development programs.

“One of the most common questions I had, just through this research, was, ‘Why is the state giving the district money to do this research? “,” Forman said at the school board meeting. “Basically, strengthening dual registration programs in the state of Colorado is one of the strategies the state sees in terms of help and support. [students] live out their educational goals in the state.

As a result of this research, the district proposed both district-wide and school-specific action steps to ensure that it develops and maximizes the potential of its dual enrollment program. . Jarnot and Forman said in a recent email to Vail Daily that the district has set four goals as a result of comments received throughout the research.

First, it is about increasing resources and support for students and families in navigating all of the different college and career preparation options available to them.

Second, it is about creating a common systemic support system in all schools using post-secondary preparation programs. Jarnot and Forman said that due to the exponential growth of these programs in recent months, centralizing support and advice – via a team led by Mandy Spannagel – will create consistency in programs without increasing the workload. Staff.

Third, the district aims to improve and expand the process behind its individual career and academic plans to better guide students through high school and into a career.

And finally, the district plans to implement additional pathways through a vocational technical education program with one or more of the classes in that progression being a dual enrollment course.

Moving forward, these overarching goals will guide action across the district. However, there are also school-specific goals that were identified through the research:

  • For Eagle Valley High School, this includes increased support for its AVID program, which is a college preparation program.
  • For Battle Mountain, this includes supporting a dual-enrolled peer-to-peer mentoring program.
  • At Vail Ski and Snowboard Academy, the district aims to expand its dual enrollment offerings and seek additional accreditation opportunities for its staff.
  • Red Canyon is the only high school in the district that does not accommodate dual enrollment classes. Instead, students attend Colorado Mountain College for classes. As part of its future goals, the district wants to increase access, participation and convenience in the dual registration offers here.

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