Educational Program Design
Early College Academy believes that all students can learn and that it is the responsibility of educators to ensure that students achieve. The following four beliefs serve as the foundation for the instructional program:
- Early College Academy holds high expectations for all students and will support all students to meet these high standards.
- There is no remedial track. Instead of tracking students, Early College Academy provides support and challenge when appropriate through student grouping and differentiation and offering additional support to ensure that all students are college ready.
- Every student learns differently, and classroom instruction must accommodate diverse learning styles and abilities.
- Every student is expected to complete a two-year A.A. Degree program, regardless of his or her academic starting point.
Rigorous Academic Culture
Early College Academy will create a rigorous academic culture that cultivates a college- going atmosphere. Early College Academy will establish four expectations which will be shared among staff, students, and parents. Those expectations are:
- To require students’ best effort daily, expect all students to succeed, and support their efforts to do so.
- To provide a strong foundation in each academic discipline so that students can engage in rigorous work.
- To achieve student mastery in college- readiness standards that enable all students to earn a two year A.A. degree, and be successful in college or university, graduate school, and professionally.
- To build critical thinking skills among students to solve real-world problems through the ability to understand, analyze, apply, and synthesize ideas and knowledge.
Early College Academy seeks to establish a transformational educational model. Sense of community, equity, 21st Century Skills and a shared sense of responsibility are also essential elements of a well-rounded education. While recognizing that academics always come first, Early College Academy seeks to use an integrated approach in order:
- To effectively use technology as a tool to enhance learning and to integrate it across disciplines.
- To build a common understanding that each student chooses to be a part of a community, sharing in the responsibilities and sacrifices such a commitment brings.
- To build a unified student body, embracing the challenges of gender, economic and cultural diversity, fulfilling the commitment to have an inclusive student body which includes economically disadvantaged families, and diverse populations.
- To actively encourage parents to partner with Early College Academy and to play significant roles in the daily lives and work of their children.
Early College Academy seeks to create a school which maximizes the benefits of its small size and accentuates the positive attributes of a personalized college education offered at Aims Community College. Early College Academy seeks:
- To create a community where each student is known and supported to achieve their potential.
- To embrace the positive elements of a small school while recognizing, and attempting to mitigate the drawbacks of its size.
- To instill in students the desire and the knowledge of how to pursue independent learning.
- To teach with the aim of producing outstanding individual results, rather than a particular pedagogical philosophy that dictates how we teach.
Early College Academy’s instructional model is different than a traditional Early College Academy in the depth and breadth of cooperation between Aims Community College faculty and District 6 faculty. As such, in June 2014, Aims’ faculty members worked with District 6 teachers to define the curriculum for the proposed Early College Academy, to create an innovative, engaging and seamless curriculum. This curriculum aims to maximize student opportunity, maintain high rigor, and provide for student support throughout the process.
The principles of the curriculum include:
- A philosophy. A curriculum founded on a carefully thought out philosophy of education and clearly connected to the partnering institutions’ mission statements.
- Clear purposes and goals. The curricular goals (intended student development outcomes) of what graduates should know and be able to do to successfully transition from the Early College Academy to a 4-year institution.
- A theoretically sound process. Student activities ensure students master the Guaranteed Transfer Pathway curriculum and the Colorado Measures of Academic Success (CMAS).
- A rational sequence. The course sequence to form a coherent curriculum based on the stated intended outcomes of both the secondary and post-secondary standards.
- High-quality academic support. A very intentional academic support system in place for all students.
The Early College Academy curriculum designed by Aims Community College faculty, in collaboration with District 6 teachers, is a model for high schools throughout the state. The key performance indicators identified in the Education Accountability Act of 2009 (SB 09-163) will be used as the measures of educational success: academic achievement, academic longitudinal growth, academic gaps and post secondary/workforce readiness. State identified measures and metrics for each of these performance indicators are combined to arrive at an overall evaluation of a school’s performance. The intent of Early College Academy is to achieve high performing status.