Commander College saving time, money

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Many high school students already on track to graduate with college associate’s degree

By Brandon Mattingly

With the Washington County Commander College program in its third year, local school officials recently assessed its impact on student development, and they found that the program is producing just the results they’d hoped for.

“It has definitely been a great success and a wonderful opportunity for our students who have participated,” said Washington County High School Principal Paul Terrell. “These students will have had the opportunity to earn an associate degree while completing their high school requirements as well.”

Starting with 25 WCHS juniors, Washington County Schools (WCS), St. Catharine College (SCC) and Elizabethtown Community and Technical College (ECTC) came together to form the Commander College in 2010-11. Since its inception, students taking part in the program have recorded higher grade-point averages, attended class at a higher rate and posted higher ACT scores in English, math, science and reading. Commander College students finished with a GPA of 3.33 in 2010-11 and 2.96 last year, while the rest of the student body was at 2.5 and 2.34, respectively.

The Commander College program encourages students to focus on dual-credit classes over their final two years of high school, providing a head start on expensive college courses. In fact, according to information provided by WCS, 12 students are on track to receive an associate degree in May. 

Numerous other students have accumulated transferrable credit hours that will put them on track for a college degree much sooner than would have been possible otherwise.

Being prepared for the classwork aspect of college isn’t the only focus of the program, however. 

Two one-credit classes that deal with college readiness are also available to seniors and help them reach testing goals.

“They receive instruction to prepare them to take COMPASS, KYOTE and ACT assessments to afford them the opportunity to meet those benchmark scores to place them in credit-bearing college courses,” Terrell said.

The program initially concentrated on working toward a liberal arts degree with students choosing electives that fall in line with their field of interest. That too is growing, though, as early childhood education has been added as an option for 2013-14 graduates. No additional degrees have been introduced for the future, but further expansion isn’t out of the question.

“That will be a discussion we will have with the colleges as the program grows and evolves,” Terrell said. “I hope the partnership we have established with SCC and ECTC will continue to present more opportunities for students at WCHS.”

For more information about the Washington County Commander College, email St. Catharine College’s Dr. Jan Lantz janlantz@sccky.edu.