With Kentucky’s public school system emphasizing innovation and the Council for Postsecondary Education encouraging seamless transition from high school to college, the demand for customized dual credit programs has reached fever pitch. The University now gets phone calls nearly everyday from parents and school personnel seeking dual credit programs with UK. All the other postsecondary institutions in Kentucky currently have dual credit programs in place, and callers are confused that the state’s flagship institution still does not offer this kind of academic enrichment for our most motivated and gifted students. Despite years of discussion about these possibilities, the University has not yet created a formal agreement offering dual credit (see more on this at http://www.uky.edu/Admission/earn-college-credit). Not yet, anyway.
But this is about to change. The Fayette County Public Schools (partnering with UK College of Education’s P20 Innovation Lab for College & Career Readiness) received an NGLC Challenge grant to explore how Kentucky’s innovation school plans could build a dual credit program with UK and the Fayette County Public Schools (FCPS). With help from various faculty in the Colleges of Agriculture, Arts & Sciences, Engineering and of Fine Arts, the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) Academy has begun to emerge.The STEAM Academy will capitalize on discovery – and design-based learning through project-based learning. Standards-based instruction will come in a variety of ways, including technology and blended learning to achieve mastery, and will be foundational to the student’s learning experience. The STEAM Academy will be focused on a pure teaching and learning environment that engages students through creative and authentic learning opportunities for the 21st century.
(See the FAQs about the STEAM Academy posted as a .pdf on the FCPS website here.)
The overarching goals of this new high school for FCPS is, according to the NGLC grant application, to “dramatically improve college readiness, maximize student learning, and close achievement gaps using mastery learning, personalized instruction, internships and dual/college credit opportunities to ensure accelerated growth in skills and knowledge staked to the Common Core standards.” (See the STEAM Academy’s executive brief in a .pdf to download here.)
This fall’s incoming 150 students are being selected via lottery this spring. The STEAM Academy leadership team plans that this first cohort of ninth graders will receive one credit hour of dual credit with UK – an academic orientation course in higher education (similar to UK101) tailored for ninth graders. UK College of Education graduate students will serve as instructors, trained by UK Student Affairs staff and supervised by College of Education faculty.
According to the UK Faculty Senate Rules, this new dual credit partnership (UK’s first) will need to be approved first by the college (in this case, because the dual credit first being offered is a University-wide course, only Ben Withers, the interim Dean of Undergraduate Studies, will need to approve this first round) and the Undergraduate Council. The new course is being developed by the P20 Innovation Lab for College & Career Readiness in partnership with the UK Dean of Students Office and Undergraduate Studies (the unit from whom the dual credit students are assigned their UK academic advisors).
This is an exciting first for the University of Kentucky! And more to come!