February 11, 2011

Kent School District and UW launch partnership program for three-year degree completion

News and Information

In winter 2011, the UW is launching an accelerated program allowing students to graduate in three years. It allows high school students to enroll in UW courses, mostly held in the comfort of their own school as well as during the summer on the UW campus. Students will earn a UW Accelerated Program certificate upon successful completion of the 45-credit program.

The UW Accelerated Program introduces students to the rigors and expectations of university-level coursework and smoothes the transition from high school to college. It also offers students a stronger application for admission to the UW built on a proven record of success in UW coursework.

The UW is collaborating with Kent School District to pilot the program, with plans to expand the program to other districts across the state in 2012. Kent was chosen for its strong interest and early commitment. Working with its diverse student population in the pilot phase will also provide a good test case for students and school districts across the state.

Edward Lee Vargas, superintendent of the Kent School District (and UW alumnus), stated, “Im excited about our UW partnership and the tremendous opportunities for our students as we focus on accelerating equity and excellence in college and career readiness for all.” David Szatmary, UW vice provost for Educational Outreach, said, “Were pleased by this opportunity for the UW to help coordinate a smoother path from high school to college.”

The UW Accelerated Program builds on the framework of UW in the High School (UWHS) by expanding offerings to 45 UW credits. For nearly 30 years, UWHS has provided UW courses in English composition, history, world languages, computing, mathematics and sciences to its partner K-12 school districts. Accredited by the National Association for Concurrent Enrollment, supported by several UW academic departments and administered by UW Educational Outreach, UWHS last year reached more than 2,700 students in 60 schools throughout the state. Students complete UW courses — and earn UW credit — in their own classrooms with their own teachers who work with a UW academic liaison.

UW Accelerated Program students will earn most of their 45 UW credits during the school year while participating in UWHS courses offered by their school. Not only will they have the dedicated support of their own faculty, but will also benefit from a slower academic pace with the UW curriculum delivered over a semester or an entire year. They can also earn credits in the summer by enrolling in a wide variety of UW Summer Quarter classes and UW Discovery Seminars, monthlong courses designed to smooth the transition between high school and college.

Benefits to students are many. In a recent UWHS program survey, the majority of respondents currently attending college reported that UWHS courses prepared them for college-level work and helped fulfill college or university exit requirements. UWHS differs from other dual enrollment programs in that the final grade does not depend on one high-stakes test but is rather earned over time.

Successful completion of the UW Accelerated Program will strengthen participants application to UW by providing a proven track record. The UW credits they earn are also highly portable, accepted by most public universities and many private ones across the country.  In addition, the program will provide a dedicated UW liaison and advisors to work with and guide students.

The UW Accelerated Program will also grant high school students access to opportunities and intellectual resources that only the UW can offer, particularly in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. For example, a NASA grant awarded to the UW funds the development of a UWHS course on climate science. The course will include opportunities for student contact with UW NASA-funded researchers. A grant from National Institutes of Health/National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH/NIDA) is funding development of an online UWHS biology course. That course will involve students in core biology concepts using the science of addiction and drug abuse as a context to add relevance to the learning experience.

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For more information, contact Bob Roseth, UW director of News & Information, at 206-543-2580 or roseth@uw.edu, or Chris Loftis of the Kent School District, at 253-373-7524, or chris.loftis@kent.k12.wa.us.