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Early College Experience program accredited

by Richard Veilleux - November 13, 2007

UConn’s Early College Experience (ECE) program, the oldest high school-to-college transition program in the nation, has become the first ECE program in the Northeast to earn accreditation from the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships (NACEP).

It is one of just a handful of accredited programs in the nation.

“This is a very positive, important step in our continued growth, and really puts us in the vanguard of the national movement toward concurrent education programs,” says Gillian Thorne, director of UConn’s program.

The program brings UConn courses to high school juniors and seniors across the state. High school teachers who apply to teach one of the courses are certified by a departmental coordinator at UConn, given training on the UConn curriculum, and attend an orientation program in Storrs.

To maintain certification they must attend conferences and annual professional development seminars, and work with their UConn coordinator to ensure continued course compatibility. Once certified, they are considered adjunct professors.

Certified high school teachers and students who enroll in ECE also have access to a range of UConn resources, including library databases, WebCT Vista, and e-portfolios.

The students register and participate in add-drop just as UConn students do.

“These are UConn courses, top to bottom,” says Thorne.

Students who successfully complete a course earn UConn credit. This year, there are 128 high schools in Connecticut participating in the program, and nearly 5,000 students. Forty-five courses are being offered.

Leaders in the concurrent enrollment community consider the program to be far more effective than the more popular Advanced Placement program, because concurrent enrollment classes mirror those actually taught in the college offering them.

AP credits are based on testing and classes that some say are not college level, and are often taught by high school teachers whose specialty is in another subject. UConn’s ECE courses must be taught by somebody whose specialty is in the field they teach.

ECE courses also are reflected on the student’s college transcript. AP courses are not.

UConn’s program started in 1955 as the High School Co-op program. It became the Early College Experience in the late 1990s.

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