Unique academy and educational tracks in school 

Published 7:24 pm Tuesday, August 22, 2023

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Schools continue to evolve and change their curriculum to meet the needs of modern students. Many schools now recognize the importance of helping students develop skills to help them compete in the world and workforce. One way they are doing so is by developing educational academies or specific academic tracks to give students an advantage later in their academic careers. Here’s a close look at such offerings, which tend to be primarily at the high school (secondary school) level.

Early college academy

Early college academy, also known as early college high school, is a program that enables high school students to earn two-year associates degrees at the same time as they earn high school diplomas, according to U.S. News & World Report. The Early College, High School Initiative was partly established in 2002 by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Early colleges have expanded over the last 20 years, and these programs may work in different ways. Some bring high schoolers to college campuses to take in-person courses, or there may be remote course offerings. Others provide college courses in a high school setting. High schools develop complementary relationships with accredited colleges in the area, typically community colleges. Upon completion of the programs, students in the early college courses will receive associates degrees. Advantages to an ECA is that students already have completed two years of college, which saves time and money.

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Dual enrollment/Advanced placement

High schools have been offering this option for some time now. Dual enrollment classes are college courses that high schoolers take while in high school. Professors from nearby colleges may teach these courses in high school. High school teachers also may be trained to instruct a college’s approved coursework. At the end of the course, the student will have received credits for that college course. 

Advanced Placement (AP) classes are classes with college-level curricula created by the College Board. AP students must pass AP exams at the end of the classes. Depending on students ‘ test scores, certain colleges will accept AP classes as college credit. Both avenues help students earn college credits, provided the school they attend will accept the credits.

Career tracks/pathways

Students may choose to follow particular tracks in high school if they pick a college major or choose a trade school. Sometimes these programs are called pathways. Nevertheless, they may be offered in Visual Arts, STEM, Business Management, Automotive Repair, Hospitality, or Mathematics. While students will still get an array of core classes, by enrolling in a track, their electives and certain other classes may be geared toward a particular pathway. For example, an eligible business student’s math course may be accounting instead of calculus for a general education student. These pathways help develop passions and interests and enable high schoolers to grow accustomed to the customization of a degree.

High school has evolved to introduce students to higher education in novel ways.