Wednesday, December 11, 2013

CMS introduces Grade 13

Four college-based high schools that are expected to get school board approval tonight introduce a concept that's new to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools:  Grade 13.

Students at middle college schools on three Central Piedmont Community College campuses and an early college high at UNC Charlotte will be able to stick around for a fifth year of high school in order to build up two years worth of tuition-free college credits.  Because that's part of the structure of those schools,  the CMS on-time graduation rate won't take a hit if those students graduate a year later than their peers.

All high school students can take community-college courses for free,  and Cato Middle College High introduced the concept of campus-based high schools to CMS.  That school always promised that successful,  highly motivated juniors and seniors could earn an associate's degree along with their high school diploma,  but the reality was very few found time to accumulate that many college credits.

When the 2014-15 application season opens Jan. 11,  rising 11th and 12th graders with at least a 2.5 GPA will be able to apply for middle college high schools at CPCC's Cato, Levine and Harper campuses.  Rising ninth-graders can sign up to pioneer the district's first early college high school at UNCC's Energy Production and Infrastructure Center.

UNCC EPIC building
CMS is still working on 2014-15 admission requirements for magnets and other choice schools, but the UNCC-EPIC school won't be  "highly selective,"  said Akeshia Craven-Howell,  executive director of CMS' new transformation office  (it incorporates magnets,  career-tech and virtual learning).  The goal is to recruit first-generation college students and female and minority students who have traditionally been underrepresented in high-tech and engineering fields, she said.

Students at all four schools with grade 13 will have the option to graduate at the end of 12th grade,  but Craven-Howell expects most to be motivated to stay for more free college classes.

Some are bound to see the extra year as a CMS bid to game the numbers and boost graduation rates.  I'm as skeptical as the next person,  but I don't think that will be the case.  Cato has consistently logged four-year graduation rates at or near 100 percent,  hardly surprising given that it caters to highly motivated students who are on track to graduate when they're accepted.  These small college-based options aren't likely to become a place where CMS can hide low-performing students while they take an extra year to master basic requirements.


Anonymous said...

fyi...on line courses are not all what they're cracked up to be.

Candy Cane said...

Very smart of CMS. And I'm certain that these classes don't start at 7:15am, another step in the right direction.

Dig a little more said...

"..The goal is to recruit first-generation college students and female and minority students who have traditionally been underrepresented in high-tech and engineering fields, she said..."

You realy need to discontinue this effort. Several studies are underway but because their conclusions do not support this "pc" stance, they are being suppressed. Note recent news reports about attendance at minority colleges is on the downturn. Johnson C Smith is having to cut back.

Wiley Coyote said...

Why not just extend it to 26 year olds to coincide with them living at home on their parent's insurance.

That way, CMS can just about ensure a 99.9% graduation rate.

We now have a new definition of what "on-time graduation" means, which is however long it takes.

Time will tell said...

But the high school pilot classes, of about 100 people each, failed. Despite access to the Udacity mentors, the online students last spring — including many from a charter high school in Oakland — did worse than those who took the classes on campus. In the algebra class, fewer than a quarter of the students — and only 12 percent of the high school students — earned a passing grade. On line courses are a real disappointment.

Anonymous said...

Gee, won't the other "disadvantaged" kids be "left behind" when the motivated ones leave for Early College?

Oh, wait, NCLB was last decade's folly.

This one is backed by Bill and Melinda Gates, so it's all good.

Shamash said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shamash said...

Ah, the "Transformation Office".

Is this one of the new extra levels of administration some have complained about in CMS?

No coincidence that its head, Akeshia Craven-Howell, is a former Broad hotshot with all the right Chicago "connections", is it?

This is her, isn't it?

(Surely there isn't more than ONE Akeshia Craven-Howell in education.)

So this is basically another Gates/Broad initiative staffed with the usual corporate "educators".

Anyone know what kind of salary she's pulling down as an executive director?

Her old position in Chicago paid slightly over $150K back in 2012.

Shamash said...

Online learning isn't for everyone.

Bill Gates, of course, is fascinated by the topic (and Khan Academy...), but it's probably best for people who are already motivated to learn and are self-starters to a large degree.

I read that article about the MOOCs.

As a technology buff myself, I see the appeal, but (unlike Bill Gates) I'm also aware that everyone isn't a technogeek.

I've actually learned a lot about technology using videos and such since the 1970's, but, then, that's just me.

When it came time to get my MBA, though, I put away the toys and went to a real bricks and mortar two-year MBA program with all the associated grief.

Because NOTHING can substitute for the real thing.

Every time I read about more "technology" in the classrooms, I'm reminded of my HS experience back in the early 1970's with the:

"Dicataphone Dictabelt".

It was supposed to revolutionize teaching, too.

About the only good the Dictaphone Dictabelt REALLY did for society is make the Nixon Tapes available to all.

Anonymous said...


Did a little deeper. Follow the money. Find out about how much CMS is charging the students for an education with a visa from another country, yes even Canada. You will be shocked !

Anonymous said...

CATO requires an entrance exam in math and language arts before students can be accepted into the program. CATO also rejects students with a history of behavioral problems. The program has proven itself to be an educational oasis for highly motivated students who don't mind being in a less traditional setting without high school sports and other traditional high school activities. Given the number of failed cockamamie "reform" efforts implemented and later abandoned at huge costs, CATO is a beckon of light that should be expanded to other campuses and celebrated for it's common sense approach to education. A free CPCC associate degree that can transfer to any 4-year UNC system school seems like a pretty good bang for the buck.

Canadian schools go up to grade 13 and there are countries that require 18-year-old's to serve in the military before attending college. The latest rage at many elite private schools is taking a "gap year" between high school and college. Elon University offers it's own "gap" program for incoming Freshmen. With a national college drop-out rate around 50 - 60%, the opportunity for young people to attend an extra year of high school maturing and earning college credit is good business.


Shamash said...


I think Canada (Ontario) had to cut the 13th year to control costs just a few years ago.

Of course, we'll never have that problem in the US.

Anonymous said...

Parent Alert
Day Three
Software Hostage event
DPI/CMS Pearson Power School Gradebook DOA

Anonymous said...

Minority now means WHITE by the way

Anonymous said...

Will EVERY credit transfer to ANY college in America? Really? If not you're wasting time.

Anonymous said...

"you're not wasting time" if you are a minority and plan to go to a UNC program (since tuition is free based on race in most cases).

Anonymous said...

CMS really needs to focus on math and reading first. Focus on baby steps first then the pipe dreams later. Heath it's like Reno so take a gamble !

Anonymous said...

I doubt that these kids are going to apply to Harvard or MIT with their CMS HS Associates Degree...

Shamash said...

Here's what's behind these new Grade 13 projects:

Some might argue that this is what the corporations are proposing so they won't have to "waste" money on training.

It will certainly be interesting to see what kinds of degrees are offered at these HS colleges and where the supposed jobs are coming from.

Maybe these are our new vo-tech schools.

Of course, considering the practical value of a HS diploma today, these "free" associate degrees are probably an improvement.

Anonymous said...

Just not seeing the sinister objective of "Grade 13" (which sounds like some HBO series).

My 77-yr-old mother - who grew up in a single parent household - didn't have the opportunity to attend college. After sending me off to UMass/Amherst (to major in dance) and my bother off to Yale (to major in physics), she decided to enroll in classes at our local community college where she earned an associate degree before transferring her credits to UConn where she earned a B.A. with honors.

And there you have it...


Shamash said...

While it's hardly another "Plan 9 from Outer Space", I think it is a bit of an odd bird.

With all the other college/HS options out there, this one seems to target the "underrepresented" in various fields, usually technical.

In some cases, it seems that a lot of these students aren't really ready for college level work.

But that doesn't mean every kid shouldn't have a shot at being the quarterback, just that a lot of them might not do very well.

Of course, they'll all be better for trying...