March 9, 2017 – At the start of the 2016-2017 school year, Spring Lake Park High School seniors had the opportunity to take a college-level language arts class. College Writing and Critical Reading is offered through a partnership with Anoka Ramsey Community College and is taught by SLPHS English teacher Janelle Todd. Credits earned from this class are transferable to most Minnesota state colleges and public universities.
"Students will learn about different reading methods, note taking, annotating, and really being able to use the text," Todd said. "The other aspect of it is college writing. There is a range of six different writing tasks that range from analysis, writing an original piece, compare and contrast, synthesis, research, and argumentative writing."
The course is a year long, which roughly equates to two semesters of college credit. Students spend the first trimester learning skills they will utilize during the second and third trimesters. The class teaches students various reading and writing techniques they can use in college and beyond.
Over the past few years, Spring Lake Park Schools has studied the opportunity to offer embedded college courses at SLPHS. Known as 12x12, the district has a goal for each student to earn 12 college credits by the end of 12th grade to move toward the vision of college readiness. The Pathways to College and Career Readiness and 12x12 project is part of the Engaged and Enthusiastic Learners strategic anchor in the 2016-2017 District Operational Plan (DOP).
“We want our students' first experience with college to be a success and by providing those opportunities at SLPHS, we're able to provide the foundational skills and the support for students to be successful,” said Hope Rahn, director of learning and innovation. “Our goal is for each student to receive 12 college credits before graduation, which will increase the likelihood of them pursuing a post-secondary option and completing a degree.”
Todd said the College Writing and Critical Reading course is the first in the embedded college partnership with Anoka Ramsey Community College. The district plans to add four additional embedded college courses for the 2017-2018 school year.
"Students will have a range of courses as their method of engaging in college level courses, as well as having these actual embedded college courses," she said. Students can also earn college credit through Advanced Placement, College in the Schools world language courses Opportunities in Emergency Care and child development courses.
Students who take this class will be challenged at a collegiate level, while still having the resources of a high school setting.
“The wonderful part of offering embedded college courses is our students earn college credit as they are taking the course at our high school,” said SLPHS Associate Principal Steve Brady. “Our teachers will be teaching the courses, which allows students to stay at the high school and get the rigor and support they expect and the communication families need.”
Senior Manya Mehra said she strongly encourages students to take the class.
"It helps with improving your writing and it gives you a little exposure to how a college class would be," Mehra said.
Todd said that she encourages students to take the risk and challenge themselves with a college-level course. "You don't have to be an honors student to take this class and be successful at it.”
Article written by Spring Lake Park High School senior McKenna Klaphake.