by Geoff Larcom, Published May 30, 2014
YPSILANTI – In less than 10 years, a pilot program has turned into an academic powerhouse.
The Early College Alliance (ECA) at Eastern Michigan University is ranked sixth in the state for Michigan Merit Exam reading and mathematics scores, according to the web site schooldigger.com. That ranking represents a substantial increase over the previous year, when the ECA was ranked a respectable 41st out of more than 800 Michigan high schools ranked.
David Dugger, executive director of Washtenaw Educational Options Consortium (WEOC), which oversees the ECA program, said the ranking validates the hard work that has been poured into the program.
“The ranking is a testimony to the staff, the philosophy and the pedagogy of the ECA at Eastern Michigan University,” Dugger said. “This is an impressive showing, given that nearly 25 percent of our students are eligible for free and reduced lunch, approximately 40 percent are first-time college students (no parent with a 2- or 4-year degree) and more than 45 percent of the ECA students come from persistently low achieving school districts.”
The Early College Alliance, which is located at EMU, is a distinctive educational program designed to immerse high school-aged students into a post-secondary learning environment.
The program gives students an opportunity to earn college credits while still in high school and offers strong, academically focused students a chance to enroll in advanced, college-level coursework. It also provides an alternative for students who are either struggling or don't feel connected to their school.
ECA students can graduate from high school with a diploma and up to 60 college credits from Eastern Michigan University while learning in an environment that can foster maturity and academic growth. There are currently 440 students enrolled in the program.
The alliance is funded through a percentage of each participating district's foundation allowance and continues seeking additional funding through both public and private sources.
During the early years of the alliance, the state superintendent for instruction, Michael Flanagan, visited the program and hailed it as an example of the innovative options that public schools can offer at the secondary level.
The program originally started in 2007 with four participating Washtenaw County school districts and now has eight districts sending students to the program.
To view the rankings visit http://www.schooldigger.com/go/MI/schoolrank.aspx?level=3