JACKSON TWP.  Jackson Local Schools is partnering with Stark State College’s College Credit Plus (CCP) program to offer Jackson students the option to earn an associate of art or associate of science degree or both at the high school while completing high school.

The partnership includes being able to offer instructor-led college courses and online courses at Jackson High School versus the students spending part of their day at Jackson and part at the Stark State campus.

Director of Instruction and Assessment at Jackson, Monica Myers, said the district knew there was a strong interest in expanding the CCP offerings because of the high number of students they have had in the past going onto college campuses to take courses.

"We’ve been participating in the CCP but when we recently did a student survey, more than half of the students responded that they wanted more CCP course offerings and wanted them offered here at the high school," Myers said. "The students apply for college by filing out an application, taking the Accuplacer test or ACT and meet all of the requirements at Stark State College then they are deemed ready to enter college. Then they can take college classes which can take place at Stark State or at the high school," Myers said.

Myers added that there are several advantages to offering college courses at the high school including students stay more connected to their extracurricular activities such as clubs, sports and music. Plus, they attend classes with students more their age instead of mixing high school students with college aged students. And, it’s easier to fit into their schedule because they don’t have to the take the time to drive to the college campus.

Some of the high school teachers at Jackson have worked with Stark State to become credentialed to teach certain college courses. There are online courses offered to students for courses that don’t have a credentialed teacher at Jackson to teach it.

"Offering our courses on Jackson’s campus is a great opportunity for students there, while we do have similar partnerships with other district, this one is unique," said Stark State’s College Credit Plus Coordinator Shelly McCombs. "For the teachers that have been credentialed to become adjunct instructors to teach college level courses, they will be teaching our curriculum. If a teacher isn’t available to teach a particular course, the students can take it online with a teacher in the room as a facilitator but not as an instructor."

The district has been offering math and English classes from Stark State and a few music classes from the University of Akron. The goal of forming the partnership for Jackson Local is to bring more courses physically to the high school for their students which is based on the feedback they received through the student survey.

Myers said the district will be adding more courses in phases over the next few years. Beginning next year, instructor-led college courses at Jackson High School include College Success, Computer Apps for Professionals, CCP Pre-calc with algebra in the fall and trigonometry in the spring, CCP statistics, analytical geometry-calculus 1 and College Comp 1 and 2.

Online courses include U.S. History 1 and 2, political science, ethics, general psychology, sociology and cultural diversity.

Myers said that if students start as a freshman or sophomore, they can earn an associate degree through Stark State by the time they graduate high school. She said that students can take up to 30 credit hours per year.

Jackson held a meeting with the parents in February to go over the expanded CCP program. Myers said it was well attended. Jackson Local pays for the tuition and books for the students in the program versus the parents having to pay. She added that any district that participates in the CCP program is required to pay for tuition and books for students who attend classes on any college campus.

"The district does save by having the courses offered at the high school or online because cost of tuition is lower for the courses offered here versus the course being taken at Stark State," Myers said. "The people at Stark State have been great to work with, they get back to us quickly, they have been great approving our teachers as adjunct teachers and approving online courses."

McCombs said there are many advantages for students at Jackson Local to get involved with the CCP program.

"First, students can complete their high school diploma and one or two associate degrees by the time they graduate high school. Second, they can transfer our credits to any four-year degree program. They will have all of the general coursework complete for the first two years of a four-year degree so they will only have to go two more years to earn a bachelor’s degree. And, they only have to pay tuition for the last two years of a bachelor’s degree," McCombs said. "We are excited to participate in this partnership. Jackson Local has been a strong partner in the past. They did the survey to gather feedback because they want to make sure they are serving their students and it shows how much they care for students."