KCPS seniors earn high school, college degrees simultaneously

ECA Program students 1More than a dozen graduating seniors in the Kansas City Missouri Public Schools each earned a college degree alongside their high school diploma this spring, thanks to a new partnership between the school district and Metropolitan Community College-Penn Valley.  

The students are part of the Early College Academy, a unique dual enrollment program that, unlike many dual enrollment programs, has high school students spending most of their junior and senior years of high school actually on a college campus. Then, at the end of their senior year, each student earns an associate’s degree at the same time they are graduating from high school.

The 2013 class of graduates, who walked across the stage at MCC’s five-campus commencement ceremony on Thursday, May 16, is the first cohort to complete the two-year Early College Academy program.  The group of 16 students represents four high schools across the district: Northeast, East, Lincoln Prep and Southwest.

“This has been a very successful year for the program” said Paula Schaaf, coordinator of the Early College Academy.  “Most of the students in the program have remained on the dean’s list each semester and will be prepared in every aspect of the college journey.” 

Combined, the students have been awarded over one million dollars in scholarships. Seventy-five percent of them plan to continue their education at four-year institutions.

Dr. R. Stephen Green, KCPS superintendent, says the program provides a unique and valuable experience for KCPS students.

“Increased student achievement is one of the primary goals of the Kansas City Public Schools,” said Green. “The Academy gives our scholars an opportunity to succeed earlier and in a more rigorous academic environment. The program also provides our scholars the skills and confidence they will need to compete on a worldwide stage.”  

The Early College Academy, which began in January 2010, is part of a district-wide suite of such programs at MCC. A similar program at MCC-Blue River, called the Trailblazer Collegiate Academy, saw its first cohort of students graduate in 2012. Two other similar programs, MCC-Business & Technology’s Early College and MCC-Maple Woods’ Monarchs Collegiate Academy, will launch in the fall of 2013. MCC-Longview has partnered with the University of Central Missouri and the Lee’s Summit School District on the Missouri Innovation Campus, which provides specific college-level opportunities for high school students.

For more information on the MCC-Penn Valley Early College Academy, visit https://www.kcpublicschools.org/domain/457 or contact Paula Schaaf at 816.604.4059.