Dare school board calls for public hearing on early college

Published 2:00 pm Wednesday, July 10, 2024

The Dare County Board of Education will meet in special session Wednesday, July 10, 2024 at 5 p.m. at First Flight High School to conduct a public hearing and to provide and receive information regarding the Dare County Schools early college. Public comments will be allowed.

For general information about early college, visit daretolearn.org/our-schools/early-college.

The meeting will also be livestreamed on the system’s YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/@DareCountySchoolsNC/streams.

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The agenda as posted on the Dare County Schools website as of July 2, 2024 is as follows:

  1. Meeting Called to Order
  2. Approval of the Agenda

III. Early College Presentation

  1. Public Comment
  2. Superintendent’s Closing Remarks
  3. Adjourn

The Dare County Board of Commissioners has also noticed a special meeting for the same date, time and place, July 10, 2024, at 5 p.m. at First Flight High School, 100 Veterans Drive, Kill Devil Hills. The commissioners will have a quorum present July 10, 2024, and are required to give notice.

On the Dare County Schools website, the early college information page has the following frequently asked questions and answers about early college:

How many Early Colleges are there in North Carolina?

There are currently 134 early colleges spread across 83 of North Carolina’s 100 counties. Of the state’s 117 school districts, 100 have established at least one Early College, with several districts hosting multiple campuses.

Who can apply to attend the Dare Early College?

Any 8th grader in their spring semester can apply to attend the early college beginning enrollment in the fall of their 9th grade year, as long as they are a Dare County resident. Students may not apply after the spring semester of their 8th grade year.

After the beginning of the 9th grade year, only students who transfer into Dare County Schools from another early college or similar school setting may request admission.

How are applications evaluated?

Student applications are evaluated based on a rubric that includes: student demographic information, an interview process, attendance and discipline data, staff recommendations, and a written response section.

At no point in the application process are grades looked at, considered, or reviewed for admission in the early college. Grades are a non-factor.

Efforts are made to identify students who meet the CIHS targeted student population: students who want an accelerated academic program, first-generation college students, English language learners, minority students, students from low socioeconomic backgrounds, and/or students at-risk of not graduating from high school.

Students identified with an Individualized Education Program (IEP), 504 plan, or Academically or Intellectually Gifted (A.I G.) will also be eligible and services will be provided. The early college population should mirror the population of the community.

Is the early college only accepting the highest performing students?

No, as grades are not considered in the application process, there will be no way for the early college staff to determine how a student performs academically. Students who want an accelerated academic program are part of the target demographic, but not the only part.

Can a student decide to return to their sending school?

Yes, but only at the end of the school year for the beginning of the next school year. No mid-year transfers will be considered.

How are early college teachers and staff salaries funded?

Dare County Schools will receive both teacher and administrator allotments from the state, just like every other school.

Can early college students participate in athletics?

Yes. We did not want our potential applicants to have to give up athletics if they wanted to attend. Students who reside in a specific school’s attendance zone may return to that school and participate in the athletic program. If one student from a sending school participates in athletics at that school, then all of the students who would have attended that school count toward their conference designation. No conference designations for any high school will change.

Will bus transportation be provided for students who do not drive?

Yes. Bus transportation will be provided for students who choose to use it from each of the high schools.

How is Early College different from Dual Enrollment?

For various reasons, the overall culture is different at an early college compared to the dual enrollment experience. Early college students may begin taking college coursework in the 9th grade.

Students can complete an associate degree through dual enrollment, however the program as additional restrictions compared to an early college program. Dual enrolled students must have a 2.8 unweighted Grade Point Average in the 11th or 12th grade or performance in reading and math on a standardized assessment. 9th graders can take dual enrollment if they are identified as Academically or Intellectually Gifted (A.I.G.) in both reading and math and have a standardized test score. Completion of the 60-64 credit hours needed for an associate degree takes a lot of time for an 11th or 12th grader.

Will the early college eliminate advanced placement (AP) courses in the traditional high schools?

No. Dare County Schools goal is to increase options for our students, not eliminate them. Advance placement (AP) courses will still be available to students.

It is important to note that AP courses are not guaranteed college credit. College credit in an AP course is not determined by the school or an exam. College credit is awarded by the college that a student chooses to attend. If a student does not receive a credit for the AP course taken, they may receive an elective credit, but will have to retake the core course.

If a student is dual enrolled, will they be moved to the early college?

No. Dual enrollment students will not move to the early college. These programs are two separate options for students, depending on their personal goals and circumstances.

What are the disadvantages of early college?

Some early college programs may limit traditional high school activities like prom, sports, and clubs.

However, Dare Early College plans to host its own prom and encourage staff to provide social and club activities for students. Students will also be eligible to participate in clubs, SGA, and other organizations at the College of The Albemarle beyond what is offered at the early college. There may be fewer elective classes offered at the early college in comparison to the traditional high schools because students will also have access to College of The Albemarle elective offerings.

How will students and families find out information about the early college?

Prior to the application period in the spring, early college staff will meet at our middle schools with 8th graders. Staff will then hold parent information nights to provide 8th grade parents with early college information. The application window will be advertised and open to rising 9th graders. Applications will be reviewed and invitations will be sent out to prospective students before spring break.

Why are you building an early college and not a vocational school?

College of The Albemarle offers numerous career certifications for students interested in pursuing a trade – not just an associate degree or to jump start on their college career. College of The Albemarle is now offering many of the job certifications that are in demand locally with several more in development, including: welding, HVAC, plumbing, electrical, and auto technician certifications. 

All of our traditional high schools also offer specific job related programs and certifications through career and technical education (CTE) courses including:

  • Building an RV at Cape Hatteras Secondary School through the carpentry program
  • Building a boat in partnership with Bayliss Boat Works at Manteo High School through the carpentry program
  • Building an airplane at First Flight High School through the Tango Flight program

Visit Dare County Schools CTE page at daretolearn.org/resources/cte to learn more about vocational course options for students.