DOVER, Del.– Delaware State University and representatives of the local community have partnered with Innovative Schools, a Delaware-based non-profit public school support organization, to submit a charter application to the state Department of Education this December.
DSU officials said that if approved, the proposed charter high school would implement the state's first Early College High School, a nationally recognized school design brought to Delaware through a partnership between Innovative Schools and EdWorks, and would be located on the DSU campus in Dover. The school would be designed specifically to serve first generation college-bound students.
Officials said that in the Early College model, high school and college combine to form a coherent educational program in which students work toward a high school diploma and up to two years of college credits in four years of high school.
Located on a college campus, the model directly challenges the belief system of under-prepared poor and minority students about their ability to do college level work and get a postsecondary degree, officials noted.
Housing a high school on the DSU campus is not unprecedented in the university's history, according to officials, who said that in the 1893-94 school year, the then State College for Colored Students established a two-year preparatory school to help students get ready for a college education.
In 1917, a Model Grade School was established by DSU, which granted a high school diploma to graduates. Capital improvement donations by philanthropist Pierre du Pont in the 1920s included funding to construct a new school building named the Du Pont Building. Officials said that building served as the only high school facility for African Americans in Kent County until 1952, when the high school for blacks moved to a larger school facility in the then-Dover city limits.
"Adding an Early College High School on DSU's campus is consistent with the university's historic mission and would strengthen the university's ability to serve first generation college-bound students and underrepresented minorities from the greater Dover area," said Dr. Alton Thompson, DSU provost and vice president for Academic Affairs. "It would provide them with an exceptional academic program that truly prepares them for success in college and beyond."
Authorities said that students participating in the Early College High School model launched by EdWorks in Ohio have an average graduation rate of 91 percent and out-perform state averages in high stakes graduation tests for reading, writing, and mathematics.
Officials said that at the completion of four years in high school, 100 percent of student attending Early College High Schools have earned a minimum of 30 hours of college credit, and as many as 60 percent of students earn an associate's degree, or the equivalent of 45-60 college credit.
The university said it intends to blend the Early College Charter High School with its existing STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) Initiative.
As part of the charter application process, members of the Early College Charter High School Founding Board are asking members of the Kent County community to share their opinion to determine the interest and demand for the proposed charter school.
Students, parents, educators and other community members can learn more about the Early College High School, view videos of the school design in action, and complete an online survey at www.makemineamodelschool.org. All responses are confidential and will be used to help determine the demand for new schools, officials said.
About Delaware Charter Schools Charter schools are free public schools open to all Delaware students. In Delaware, charter schools are authorized by Del. C., Title 14, Chapter 5 which was enacted in 1995. The creation of the charter school legislation is intended to improve student learning; encourage the use of different and innovative or proven school environments and teaching and learning methods; provide parents and students with improved measures of school performance and greater opportunities in choosing public schools within and outside their school districts; and to provide for a well-educated community. There are currently 21 charter schools operating across the state of Delaware. The proposed charter school, if approved, would open to students in the 2013-2014 school year.
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