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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Start college in 9th grade, says community college chancellor

All California high school students should be enrolled in community college courses, by default, starting in ninth grade, says Sonya Christian, chancellor of the system, in a Chronicle of Higher Education interview with Rick Seltzer.

Photo: Van Tay Media/Unsplash

California Community Colleges went from 2.1 million to 1.8 million students during the pandemic, she says. Dual enrollment will fill those empty seats, and be "good for student success and equity." Christian envisions that some high school students would go to college campuses, but most would be taught by college faculty teaching online or at high schools or by high school teachers with extra training. The value of dual enrollment courses varies -- a lot -- based on those factors.

Most high school graduates who enroll in community college struggle with college-level work, especially in math. Seltzer asks: Are ninth-graders ready for college-level work?

The community college chancellor says the ninth-grade course "would be an intro-to-college student-development class, typically put on by our counselors," she says. (These used to be no-credit courses.) "In addition, some faculty feel a kind-of-fun class — a gen-ed requirement, either music or those kinds of electives in the ninth or 10th grade — is a good way to get them to have a good experience."

In short, she wants to give college credit for music or art.

It would be useful to have 11th and 12-graders try to pass introductory math and writing courses designed by community college faculty. Most would not meet college standards, but they'd get a look at what those standards are.

Tennessee's SAILS teaches math and statistics to 12th graders in hopes they won't need remedial math at community college.

North Carolina's rigorous early college programs, which focus on lower-income minority students, increase math and science grades, likelihood of passing college classes and bachelor's degree completion significantly, concludes a new study. Students at Early College High Schools earn at least 12 college credits, reports Fordham's Jamya Davis.

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