February 2, 2023

Some IPS students can earn college credit from the Ivy League

The exterior of Crispus Attucks High School. - Elizabeth Gabriel/WFYI News

The exterior of Crispus Attucks High School.

Elizabeth Gabriel/WFYI News

Some of the most prestigious higher institutions in the country are providing dual-credit instruction at no cost to juniors and seniors in the Indianapolis Public Schools district, for the first time in Indiana. IPS is the first Indiana school district to begin this partnership. 

Founded in 2019, the National Education Equity Lab is an education justice nonprofit that provides dual credit classes to students in low-income communities and Title 1 classrooms across the country. Classes are taught by professors at institutions including Howard University, Stanford University and Princeton University, among others. 

“The confidence I believe you all get from knowing you can do it and be successful is so important as you think about what's going to come next for you after you leave Attucks,” IPS Superintendent Aleesia Johnson said during the press conference at Crispus Attucks High School.

The district’s pilot program with the Ed Equity Lab will take place at Crispus Attucks High School, a historical facility that was the only Black public school that served Indianapolis youth in 1927 until it was integrated in 1970. 

Twenty-five Crispus Attucks High Schoolers are enrolled in either Harvard-Arizona State University professor Lisa New’s course Poetry in America or University of Pennsylvania professor Angela Duckworth’s psychology course Grit Lab 101. High schoolers will watch live or pre-recorded videos taught by a college professor and assignments are graded by college student teaching fellows. Weekly discussions are facilitated by the teaching fellows.

Classrooms are supervised by an in-person high school teacher to make sure students are staying on task. Eligible students must have a GPA of 3.0 to participate in the program, but high school principals, teachers and counselors are able to recommend students who fall below that threshold. 

For senior Kiara Williams, Poetry in America is her fifth college course. IPS students are able to take dual enrolled courses through other programs such as Ivy Tech Community College, Marion University, Vincennes University and IUPUI’s SPAN program. But she said the rigor of this program is preparing her for college and her career as a forensic medical examiner. 

“Nobody is holding my hand,” Williams said. “It's up to me to transition into an adult to take my responsibilities and make sure I follow through with them. Because no one's going to tell me when something's due or if I spelled something wrong because that's not how they do it and the workforce.”

In Marion County, only 16 percent of Hispanic adults and 20 percent Black adults over age 25 have a bachelor’s degree or higher. The rate is 35 percent for their White peers. Joseph Hurst, Ed Equity Lab’s partnerships and engagement manager said this program helps youth reach goals they believe are unachievable or inaccessible. 

“Earlier today I heard [an IPS student] mention that he'd never even considered taking a college course before this. And then his counselor, who had the foresight to throw him in the course, just really changed his whole perspective about being able to succeed in that type of environment.” 

The Ed Equity Lab has served over 11,000 students in more than 100 school districts across 29 states. The nonprofit claims over 80 percent of participants passed their courses.

The program is at no cost to IPS students, but the district will pay $250 per student, or at least $6,250 for the pilot program. This covers the cost of college student teaching fellows and a stipend for the professors. The NBA Foundation and the Indiana Pacers team, as well as other organizations, have provided the district with the funds for this program. 

Crispus Attacuks staff have already outlined a group of students that will participate in the psychology course next school spring. The Ed Equity Lab will also work with the district to expand the dual credit program to other schools. 

Contact WFYI education reporter Elizabeth Gabriel at egabriel@wfyi.org. Follow on Twitter: @_elizabethgabs.


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