The system now has four ways students can earn college credit. It offers online advanced placement courses along with dual enrollment agreements with Gadsden State Community College, Jacksonville State University and a new program with Talladega College.
About 10 percent of the student body, 55 students, are taking advantage of the programs. The school has come a long way from where it was seven years ago, when the students didn’t have any college-level options, said Joan Frazier, the district’s superintendent.
“Implementing opportunities like this is just as important as implementing remediation,” Frazier said. “I think this has got to be part of any plan this system has for continued improvement.”
Cynthia Brown, the director of the state’s Office of Student Learning and Curriculum, said the department promotes the dual enrollment and college credit courses throughout Alabama’s school systems.
“It’s been recognized that not as much has been done for the student that is brighter,” Brown said.
But those students have needs as well. The dual enrollment programs can challenge the students as well as give them a taste of what they will find when they head to college, she said.
Melinda Hicks, the instructor of the college algebra curriculum provided by Talladega College for Anniston High School seniors, said she presents the class as she would to her college students.
That’s why senior Quinterious Heard took the class, he said. He wanted the college credit, but he also wanted to know what to expect when he heads to college next year. He likes the flexibility of doing the work on his own, and it’s taught him about managing his time.
“Basically, most of it is all on your own,” Heard said. “You have to figure out when you need to do it. You have to make the time and be able to do it on your own schedule.”
For the first nine weeks of the class, Hicks said the students studied mainly with the textbook, but in the second nine weeks, they are doing homework and quizzes online. Some students love it, but others are having a difficult time with the change, Hicks said. However, because many college classes require a lot of online work, it’s good to familiarize the students digital learning, she added.
Shelomith Gray, a senior in Hicks class who is also taking the advanced placement English and psychology online, said she enjoys the classes.
“It’s easier,” Gray said. “In class, you may have a question, but it’s time-limited.”
With the online classes, more resources are available anytime, Gray said. A student can email the teacher, access the tutorials or go to other online sources, she said.
Joshua Green, who is taking the college algebra class, also likes the online work.
“I’ve never really done it before,” Green said.
With 34 students enrolled, the Talladega College algebra course is by far the most popular of the dual enrollment programs at the high school.
“My hope is that we’ll be able to expand it to a two-year program, with juniors taking college Algebra 101 and seniors taking college Algebra 102,” Hicks said.
Anniston High would like to expand its offerings, said Principal Sherron Jinadu.
“It gives the students a chance to get ahead of the game by having some credits before they get to college,” Jinadu said.
The credits will transfer to any Alabama college.
The state Department of Education has general requirements for dual enrollment program. Students must be a sophomore level or higher to enroll. They must have at least a B average and written permission from the principal and superintendent. The students also must pay the tuition to the partnering college or university.
Anniston’s programs each have their own requirements. The early college program through Gadsden State, which allows students to take classes in any subject they choose, has grade requirements for the students. The JSU program, in teacher education, is funded through scholarships from the Public Education Foundation of Anniston’s Kevin Thompson Teacher Project. The foundation awards the scholarships. The college algebra course through Talladega College is for seniors who have taken the prerequisite math courses.
Staff writer Laura Camper: 256-235-3545. On Twitter @LCamper_Star.