The school promotes academically advanced courses and programs

NEW BEDFORD – With another charter school potentially relocating to the city, the New Bedford public school system is promoting its advanced learning opportunities for students and looking to add more.

Innovators Charter School is proposing a school that would offer Early College programs to underserved and at-risk students, especially those in Fall River and New Bedford. School organizers have yet to reveal whether it will open in New Bedford or Fall River. Organizers say its unique STEM-focused curriculum is paired with comprehensive supports for the student body it plans to target.

The new charter school, which still needs approval from the State Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, promotes the fact that students have the opportunity to earn an associate’s degree, similar to the school New Heights charter in Brockton, after which it is modeled. Growing rapidly, it will serve students in Grades 6 to 12, with students entering post-secondary courses from Grades 9 and 10.

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Now New Bedford school administrators are highlighting the advanced academic opportunities that already exist in the city’s public school system and others they would like to add.

“We have to make sure we keep moving forward because that would be grades 6 through 12. We know our high school is operating at a higher level, ”said Superintendent Thomas Anderson. “Look, we’re a long way from where we should be, but we’re making progress in these middle classes. There is still a lot of work to be done, but also to think that there are opportunities.

NBPS currently offers advanced programs for middle and high school students and continues to review elementary levels to see where improvements can be made in preparation for the transition to college, according to Anderson.

“When the charter nominations come in, they want to highlight some of the things we don’t do,” Anderson said. “We have to do a better job of sharing what we’re doing. It’s not to sit here and talk about what the charter school would and can’t do, that’s not the point at all. .

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Anderson added that when considering a K-12 trajectory, the district can’t just focus on the upper grades, but said the level of focus and intention needs to be constant.

Tackling the college process from the top down, Anderson said the district sees it as an “upside down design” starting at the grade 12 level and understanding what that student needs to get into college or school. university of his choice when returning to the beginning of high school. college grades and program.

Distinguished Programs Offered in New Bedford Schools

New Bedford High School encourages students to apply to the Academy of Honors, which offers qualified academics the opportunity to participate in advanced courses to prepare them for college. It is an exam-based program with an application process examining grades, conduct and attendance as well as the submission of a student essay.

Over 20 Advanced Placement courses, offered to students as part of the AP program through the College Board, allow students to transfer credits to a post-secondary institution.

While the Innovators Charter School emphasizes dual enrollment programs through Bristol Community College, the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and Landmark College, NBPS, like many other districts, has been offering the same program for many years through partnerships with Bristol CC and UMass Dartmouth. Senior students with a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or higher are recommended by their guidance counselor and approved by Principal Bernadette Coelho.

NBPS recently submitted Part A of the DESE Early College designation request. Thanks to the Early College partnership with Bristol CC, the Fall 2022 Business and STEM Pathways have been officially submitted. Students interested in STEM fields such as information technology, health sciences and engineering and sustainability could enroll in courses to get a head start on college credit, free of charge. .

Students will be able to earn a minimum of 12 college credits and up to 60 credits equivalent to an associate’s degree. The program requires approved districts to develop pathways that support historically underserved students in higher education, thereby removing barriers to obtaining a college degree.

“We are digging deeper into what they can offer from an academic perspective. I have confidence that any of our schools are able to offer the same level of academic rigor, because when we look at the data point of view, at least half of our schools are performing at or above the city ​​charters, ”Anderson said. “From an academic point of view with the teaching and learning process, you know that we are at least on par and that we are doing better in many areas. ”

The district will be alerted to the status of the request in October.

In the running to become an International Baccalaureate school community

The three colleges, Keith, Normandin and Roosevelt, may soon be eligible to become International Baccalaureate school communities as part of the IB middle school programs for ages 11 to 16. The district recently applied through the IB program as well as the diploma. Program.

Both programs will provide students with rigorous academic skills to better prepare them for high school and its advanced programs. The district will be informed of the status by the end of September.

Buses arrive at New Bedford High School for the first day of school.

Anderson notes that the curriculum has changed over the years for middle school students, with students now able to take algebra classes earlier than high school as well as world languages ​​classes.

To better prepare students for high school, colleges offer an eighth grade dual enrollment program with the NBHS, in which students can start earning high school credits in grade eight through classes in math, English and science.

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Additionally, Anderson acknowledges that the transition from elementary to middle school can be difficult, channeling students from small elementary schools to middle schools with nearly three times enrollment.

“I don’t think we did the best job of making sure the students were socially ready to take on the type of work that we need them to be able to do to continue progressing through high school,” said Anderson.

Through these programs and supporting students’ socio-emotional well-being, the district continues to better prepare them for these transitions.

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Developing skills in primary schools

Elementary schools in the district are considering improvements, such as splitting up into different subjects rather than having students with only one teacher for the entire school day.

“[We’re] we’re looking to see if we need to do more to make sure their content skills are stronger so they’re more ready for this transition from college, ”said Anderson.

STEM and STEAM opportunities in New Bedford schools

While Anderson encourages parents to consider another academic option, he wants to make sure the district offers enough choice.

“The numbers confirm that we are still doing quite well in a lot of areas,” Anderson said. “On the other hand, there are certain performance levels at which we need to do better. We must continue to work.

More and more schools and districts are offering a STEM and STEAM based curriculum and dual enrollment to encourage early exposure to college. Although NBPS offers these courses, Anderson said the district needs to be realistic in offering these opportunities because of its enrollment versus small schools.

“We have to make sure that when we look at some of the programs that others say they are able to offer,” Anderson said. “For example, offering STEM and a college degree by the time they graduate, is that realistic given our numbers? ”

According to the NBPS, high school enrollment reached 2,979 students for fall 2021. Anderson noted that with a projected graduating class of 600 to 700 students, it’s a bit more difficult to ensure that every senior is. able to obtain an associate degree not only because of the volume, but because of the diverse interests of the students. Not all students feel inclined to take this path.

“We need to continue to share what we’re already doing in our schools,” Anderson said.

Standard-Times editor-in-chief Kerri Tallman can be reached at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at @kerri_tallman for links to recent articles.

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