Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Wabash Early College High School

Wabash Early College High School

On September 21st, the Center of Excellence in Leadership of Learning (CELL) endorsed Wabash High School as Wabash Early College High School.  This endorsement makes Wabash High School one of only 13 high schools in the State of Indiana to be endorsed as an early college.  In 2014-2015, 4 students earned the Indiana Statewide Transfer General Education Core Certificate and 15 students earned technical certificates, industry recognized credentials, or licenses, resulting in 17 percent of Wabash Early College students earning postsecondary Early College credentials (while they were in high school).  Moreover, 232 Wabash High School students earned 1081 college credits during 2014-2015, saving parents between $143,935.15 and $360,405.40 (depending on transferring school).

In addition to dual credit opportunities at Wabash High School, Wabash City Schools provided students an opportunity to attend classes on the campus of IPFW (2014-2015) and IU-Kokomo (2015-2016).  We believe these college campus experiences provide students a great opportunity to gain valuable college-going experiences (and credits) prior to high school graduation.

Wabash High School is a leader in preparing students for college.  In addition to very intentional counseling, Wabash provides opportunities such as SAT school day for all of its students.  On October 14th, all freshman, sophomores, and juniors will take the PSAT; and all seniors will take the SAT.  The test is administered during the school day and Wabash City Schools picks up the costs.  This is one of the many intentional steps Wabash City Schools takes to ensure all students have an opportunity to reach their fullest potential.

Finally, Wabash City Schools is the leader in the State of Indiana in a comprehensive college and career experience K-14.  Wabash begins this conversation in kindergarten as we incentivize families to begin the college and career discussions through 529 college savings account creation and college and career discovery.  Currently, Wabash County leads the entire state of Indiana with the percentage of students under the age of 18 with a 529 college savings plan.  71 percent of Wabash City Schools Kindergarten through 5th grade students have an active account.  Wabash Middle School promotes academic rigor based not on age but on student interest and ability.  Our 2015-2016 Wabash Middle School students are on track to earn 671 high school credits.  And our current high school students are on track to earn nearly 2000 college credits for a savings of between $259,642 and $643,500.  

Through this early college district model, Wabash City Schools will provide a relevant and rigorous education to ensure each student is college and career ready for success in a global community.  

Please join in the celebration and send us a short video clip or message to or @WCS_SUPT, congratulating the faculty, community and students.   

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Big Ideas from this Past Week


College Bound

71 more kids and families made a commitment to college by opening a 529 college savings plan. Currently, 70 percent of our students K-5 grade have a 529 plan.  Parkview Health provided $25 to every K-3 student who signed up at school registration.  In September, students will be seeking community champions to help support their college savings account.  Kindergarten through 3rd graders will be visiting Manchester University during September College Go Week to celebrate the value of education.  529s can be used for accredited higher education programs (universities and vocational schools) and related expenses that are eligible for U.S. Dept. of Education student aid programs.  

Summer Science trip

At Monday night's Wabash City Schools' board meeting, WMS science teacher Mr. Ryan Evans and a WMS student presented on WMS science club’s trip to the American Southwest.  Students traveled across 10 states, visiting St. Louis, the Grand Canyon, the Mighty 5 National Parks in Utah.  Pictures and video of the trip can be found at the Wabash Middle School Science Club Facebook page.  The science club was approved for 2 upcoming camping trips to Sleeping Bear Dunes State Park and Potato Creek State Park.  A 2016 summer trip to the Northeastern part of the United States is being planned.  Thank you to Mr. Evans and the staff who chaperoned the trip.

Soccer is Coming!

Wabash City Schools started school soccer beginning at Wabash Middle School for the spring and at Wabash High School in Fall of 2016.  Wabash City Schools currently offers 17 sports and by adding soccer, they will provide every conference sport for the Three River's Conference.  Mr. Greg Martz, Wabash City Schools' Athletic Director, presented at the board meeting stating the addition of soccer fits into Wabash's vision of providing as many opportunities as we can for kids.    

Monday, June 8, 2015

Do We Believe College is for All Students?

 College for All

On May 4th, Wabash City Schools Board of School Trustees received a presentation by Wabash High School principal Mr. Josh Blossom on the newly endorsed Wabash Early College High School.  The endorsement—from the University of Indianapolis Center of Excellence in Leadership for Learning (CELL)—is the result of a journey that began four years ago, when Wabash City Schools adopted a mission statement that meant to clearly articulate our desired outcome for every student.  We wanted a mission that captured our belief that college should be for all students. Wabash City Schools provides a relevant and rigorous education to ensure each student is college and career-ready for success in a global community. 
 With the endorsement from CELL, Wabash High School becomes one of 11 high schools in the State of Indiana to be endorsed as an Early College High School and one of only 3 in the entire Northeast Indiana 10 County Region.  Wabash’s Early College High School model is a wall-to-wall or school-wide approach.  The current pathway is a Statewide Transfer General Education Core
Certificate.  This certificate provides 30 college credit hours transferrable to any Indiana state higher education institution.  As a school-wide approach, Wabash City Schools is making a profound statement:  we believe college is for everyone. 

Why College for All?

The impetus for the College for All philosophy is based on the changing workforce.  In 2010, the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce reported that, “[b]y 2018, the economy will create 46.8 million openings—13.8 million brand-new jobs and 33 million ‘replacement jobs,’ positions vacated by workers who have retired or permanently left their occupations.  Nearly two-thirds of these 46.8 million jobs—some 63 percent—will require workers with at least some college education. About 33 percent will require a Bachelor’s degree or better, while 30 percent will require some college or a two-year Associate’s degree.”[1]   The Lumina Foundation has promoted the goal of 60 percent of our workforce in 2025 will have some type of degree or high-level certification.  According to a 2015 Lumina policy brief, only 34.7 percent of Indiana’s current workforce holds an associate degree or greater, while Wabash County’s workforce is at 26.16 percent. [2]The picture becomes desperately clear: our children are going to be left behind unless we make education our top priority.    

The Barriers to College For All Approach

Barrier #1: Defining College

The first and most pressing barrier to the College for All philosophy is the need to redefine the term college.  Wabash City Schools believes in College for All because for too long, we have marginalized or stigmatized our young adults who chose educational pathways outside the 4-year degree pathway.  Not a week goes by, that I do not engage in a conversation about how to define the term college.  Many still hold to the aged concept of college exclusively meaning a 4-year degree pathway.  Those who often argue against college for all typically argue with this pathway in mind.  They cite evidence that 4-year degree pathway students are finding themselves unemployed or underemployed with an incredible amount of school debt.
Wabash City Schools believes that we need to broaden this concept for a more inclusive definition.  College is any training, credentials or degree pathway leading to career and personal fulfillment.  This means apprenticeships, certifications, and degrees leading to career outcomes are all considered viable college pathways.  By choosing to broaden the definition and keeping a universal goal for college for all, our school maintains high expectations and removes the stigma often associated with career pathways that do not fit the traditional 4-year degree pathway. 
For those who argue that the college for all approach is setting certain students up for failure by promoting the “wrong” type of student, I challenge to look at a group of kindergarten students and tell parents that their student is not going to college.   We would agree that the 4-year degree pathway is not for every kid due as much to student interest as to student ability; however, we do believe college in general terms is for everyone. 
Wabash City Schools believes college is for all students. 

Barrier #2: 20th Century Mindsets

This philosophy will be criticized by many and from many different viewpoints.  The argument that many communities who have a rich history in an economy based on manufacturing and agriculture may argue that their parents did not require a college education and have found a living wage.  This argument is dying faster than floppy disks and flip phones.  This global community where our kids will need to compete has been transformed through advances in technology.  The environment was well described by James Tanoos, “The state[Indiana] has held its own, but the process to keep current jobs and lure the global manufacutrers of the 21st century is a hyper-competitive, fierce, continuous dogfight (Indiana Journal of Political Science (2010)”[3].  Career pathways that traditionally did not require anything more than on the job training now requires specialized training.  Manufacturing jobs are now considered advanced manufacturing pathways. 
The last few years, Wabash City School students who have attended Heartland Career Center have earned college dual credit in 12 different programs to include Automotive Collision Repair, Automotive Service, Construction Technology,  Cosmetology, Criminal Justice, Culinary Arts, Electronics and Computer Technology, Graphic Design & Layout, Health Science Education, Precision Machining, and Welding Technology through Vincennes University and Ivy Tech Community College.  If we can start talking about college in more inclusive terms, then we will be able to remove the stigma of career pathways that do not lead through 4-year degree pathways.  In the traditional K-12 setting, there are 2 pathways: one is the Core 40 pathway leading to “college-ready” in the traditional 4 year sense; and those who are not.  Parents of students who have not been successful in the Core 40 pathway must come into school and sign their students off this pathway.  Instead of looking at pathway choices as the haves and have nots, we should provide multiple Plan A’s for students.  Pathways that lead to technical certifications in welding and advanced manufacturing, should not be stigmatized but instead, our guidance counselors should be promoting these pathways.  This intentionality and choice of educational pathways will provide relevance to kids and keep them engaged in their educational plan.  At the end of the day, we need to be promoting college for all. 

Barrier #3:  Is College a Good Investment?

There has been a lot of discussion and in the press about the rising costs of college and the rise in unemployment or underemployment by college graduates.  Images of 6-year philosophy majors shackled by tens of thousands of dollars worth of college debt paying it back over 3 lifetimes as a Starbucks barista come to mind.  I believe this perception barrier derives from the first perception barrier.  When we argue that college in a general is the golden ticket and we simply send kids down a pathway without any counseling on college savings, job markets, degree success rates, college costs, and college career placement rates, then I do think this perception may become a reality.  But to avoid misguided college and career pathways requires intentional conversations by both parents and K-12 staff.  Redefining college will help our students better understand their options and not be overwhelmed by misinformation.  Not all college pathways cost the same.  Two year degrees and certifications may cost as little as $4,000 a year while some state schools’ tuition can still be found as low as $7500 a year. 

With that being said, Wabash Early College High School seeks to eliminate the cost barrier and open the door to college for all.  Students receiving Free and Reduced lunch benefits will be required to pay nothing toward tuition at Wabash Early College High School while others may have to pay no more than $25 a credit hour.  Students can complete their first year of a 4-year degree pathway for between $0 to 750 dollars.  This will generate a savings to families of between $4000 to potentially $20,000 worth of savings.  

Wabash County has been at a national forefront of college savings, beginning the conversation about college savings with all Kindergarten through 3rd grade students and parents.  71 percent of our K-4th grade students currently have a 529 college savings plan; the average percent of all 92 counties is 11 percent. 
In addition to preaching a sermon of college for all, we need to preach the importance of early college savings for all.  Indiana 529 college savings plans can be used for college expenses beyond just tuition and books but also room and board costs and other supply and equipment required by the college experience.  Furthermore, the plan can be used for any type of college as long as it is eligible to participate in the U.S. Department of Education student financial aid program.[4]

Despite the concern of college costs, data would support that college graduates are still outperforming high school graduates.  In a 2014 policy brief, unemployment rates for college graduates is 14.4 percent less and underemployment rates are 24.7 percent less than their peers with only a high school diploma.[5] 

If we can remove these 3 barriers, then we can create significant change in Wabash County.  Redefining college, understanding the current workforce demands and addressing college costs will open life-long opportunities for all of our kids and Wabash County.  By demonstrating Wabash County is a leader in workforce development, we provide an invaluable tool in recruiting jobs to the county and the region.  Thanks to Wabash Early College High School, all students will have greater opportunities regardless of their college and career pathway. 

[1] Anthony P. Carnevale, Nicole Smith, & Jeff Strohl. Help Wanted: Projections of Jobs and Education Requirements Through 2018. Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce.  June 2010, p. 13. 
[2] “A Stronger Nation through Higher Education.”  Lumina Foundation.
[3] Tanoos, James. (2010). The State of Hoosier Manufacturing.  Indiana Journal of Political Science, 12(12), 58-67. 

[4] College Choice 529 Direct Savings Plan .  FAQ.  2015.
[5] HEIDI SHIERHOLZ , A LY SSA D AVIS , AND WILL KIMBALL. “The Class of 2014: The Weak Economy is Idling Too Many Young Graduates”. Economic Policy Institute: EPI Briefing Paper.  May, 1, 2014. No.377,  3-4.