The New York Times has a curious report today: 'Early College' Gains Ground in Education, by Karen Arenson (July 14, 2003). The article reports on two new schools in NYC that belong to a national wave of "early-college high schools". An excerpt:
Neither new school will require an admissions test, as Stuyvesant High School, the Bronx High School of Science and three new high schools opened on CUNY campuses last fall do.
Many high schools already offer their students college-level work through Advanced Placement courses or classes at local colleges, but those who take them tend to be the strongest students.
These early-college schools aim to make such advanced curriculum the norm for every one of their students, not just the handful at the top. The concept is based on the notion that less accomplished students - including those in danger of dropping out - are capable of handling more difficult work, and that more of them will graduate if they are challenged more. That idea appeals to school officials at a time when as many as half of ninth graders are dropping out before graduation in many cities.
The refusal to have an entry test, the dismissal of Advanced Placement classes, and the focus on students at risk of not graduating in the first place all lead me to wonder just what kind of view these schools have of college-level work. I'll venture a guess: lots of projects and independent work; not much learning; and it won't be certified by college level exams.