Polk County Itemizer-Observer
By Jolene Guzman
April 15th, 2014
POLK COUNTY — Dallas, Central, Falls City and Perrydale school districts, Western Oregon University, Chemeketa Community College and Willamette Education Service District are part of a consortium that received a $500,000 grant to expand college credit opportunities for high school students.
Called the Mid-Willamette Valley Promise Consortium, the group consists of 20 school districts in Polk, Marion and Yamhill counties, WOU, Chemeketa, WESD, Oregon Institute of Technology, Corban University, and South Metro-Salem STEM (science, technology, engineering and math).
Dallas Superintendent Christy Perry said the grant will pay for high school teachers and college faculty members to work together in a professional learning community (PLC) format to redesign current high school classes to meet college standards.
She said in most cases these would be higher-level high school classes — AP chemistry for example — that already meet many college standards. Working collaboratively, the teachers would design a proficiency-based assessment students must meet to earn college credit.
Perry said the Mid-Willamette Valley Promise Consortium is modeled after a similar program developed by schools in Eastern Oregon, called the “Eastern Promise.” Students in that program can earn nearly enough credits for an associate degree before leaving high school.
That level of success in “Willamette Promise” may be some years off, but Perry said work on creating outlines and assessments for higher-level writing and math courses should happen soon.
In the long term, the group has a goal of offering students chances to earn up to 45 college credits or complete or nearly complete a professional certification while still in high school.
Perry said another benefit of the grant is it has high school and college instructors working together toward the same goal.
“It opens up a continual dialogue … where we are sitting around a table and talking about how to get kids there (college) quicker.”