COC set to offer additional courses at high schools

Students walk past the College of the Canyons University Center, which offers various degree programs and houses the Hart District's Academy of the Canyon's. Cory Rubin/ The Signal

Santa Clarita Valley students will soon have additional opportunities to take college courses for credit following the approval of a dual-enrollment agreement between the William S. Hart Union High School District and College of the Canyons.

In an effort to increase students’ access to college-level courses, the SCV’s junior high and high school district approved the College and Careers Access Pathways agreement with the Santa Clarita Community College District last week. The move allows COC to host classes on high school campuses during regular school hours.

“It’s a very unique and special opportunity,” said COC Assistant Superintendent Jerry Buckley. “We’ve had the opportunity for high school students to take college courses in the past, but they (were) required to drive to one of COC’s two campuses or participate in the College Now program,” which offers college-level courses at a high school campus after the regular school day has ended.

The Hart district hosts 16 sections of dual-credit college courses at its campuses through the College Now program, but Buckley believes the new agreement will entice many more students to participate, since they won’t have to travel or wait until after school.

“They can go as little or as much as they want,” and choose to do either program, Buckley said. “They both work and they’re both important, but one is after school and the other is on-campus during the day. It simply depends on a student’s preference and what’s happening in their life.”

Assembly Bill 288, which made the partnership possible, says dual enrollment can be an effective strategy to help students who struggle academically or who are at risk of dropping out. “But I’d take it a step further,” Buckley said. “We’re trying to touch a population who might not have considered ever going to college.”

Those who take an advanced manufacturing class will be able to earn their state certification shortly after and they’ll have a high-paying career in front of them, Buckley said, but added that hopefully it proves to the student that they can do college-level work.

“This is a program that could touch everybody,” and in order to participate, students simply need permission from their school site principal and counselor, Buckley said.

There will be three or four pilot course offerings in the spring of 2019, including computer networking, administration of justice and manufacturing technology, Buckley said.

“The goal is to offer many other types of college courses that you might not find in a high school curriculum,” he said. Officials hope that, within three to five years, there will be three to five college classes at each high school campus.

“We just finished running a survey with students across the valley to find their interest,” so there might be different courses at different campuses depending upon the need, Buckley said.

“I think the people that designed (AB 288) had the intent that (COC) would encourage students to attempt and succeed in college-level work and find a new pathway that helps the student and their family achieve economic growth and social mobility that they would not have experienced otherwise,” Buckley said. “That’s what community colleges are about — social and economic mobility.”

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