Jordan McCrae was on Trident Technical College’s Dean’s List in the fall of 2018, but she wasn’t even a freshman.
Jordan, 15, is a sophomore at Early College High, a public school that welcomes students from across Charleston County to the campus of Trident Tech’s Palmer Campus in downtown Charleston.
Opened in 2017 on a single lane of the college, the school offers students a rare opportunity: if they enroll in enough double credit college courses and stay focused, they can graduate from high school with a diploma. partner already to their credit.
The school recruits students who score between the 40th and 60th percentiles on their eighth grade standardized tests. Many are the first in their families to take college courses. The school works with students to choose courses that will transfer and count towards a degree at any public college in South Carolina.
The second-year class of this school year is the first to take double credit courses, sitting in classrooms alongside mature college-aged and returning students. For the most part, they have risen to the challenge.
The 62 students who took dual credit courses in the fall earned a total of 336 credit hours, according to principal Vanessa Denney. About three-quarters of the marks they got were A’s or B’s.
“The teachers would really shine,” Denney said. “There were a few instances where a professor was worried about a student whose head was down or who looked different that day, and they’d email us and say, ‘Hey little Johnny or little Suzy seems absent. “So they really invested in our success as well.”
Jordan said she was slightly intimidated at first, but she stayed focused and finished the semester with an A in Music Appreciation and Interdisciplinary Studies 109, a compulsory first year course. She said she found the environment of the fledgling small school to be very different from that of the school it was zoned for, the sprawling Wando High in Mount Pleasant.
“I’ve made a lot more friends than I ever thought I would, and I feel like I’m so far removed from who I was before,” she said. “I feel different.”
Her classmate Keywan Cash-Cooper, 16, successfully completed three college courses in the fall: IDS 109, Art Appreciation, and Public Speaking. This semester he will study Western Civilization and Psychology.
“You have to be ready,” he said. “You can’t just look into empty space.”
Last school year, the first grade first class got off to a rough start. Early College tries to consolidate many requirements for a high school diploma in the first year, and some students have failed to overcome the challenge. About 20 of the first 96 students left before the end of the 2017-18 school year.
This year, Denney said, sophomores are like “older statesmen” to freshmen – and living proof that you can get away with it.
“I haven’t heard of a single freshman considering leaving this year. It’s not even part of the conversation,” Denney said.
Early College High School will cost the district about $ 2.16 million to operate this school year, an amount that includes tuition and textbooks for students. The school’s per student cost last year was $ 7,225, which is well below the district median of $ 9,229 per student.
Contact Paul Bowers at 843-937-5546. Follow him on Twitter @paul_bowers.