By T. Scott Boatright
There’s nothing like hitting a daily double for graduation — earn a diploma and get another — two for studying cost of one.
That’s exactly what nine Lincoln Preparatory School graduating seniors did Monday night. Minutes after receiving their high school diploma those nine returned the stage minutes later to receive their Associate of General Studies Degree from Southern University at Shreveport (SUSLA).
Those students were part of the Lincoln Preparatory School Early College Academy (ECA), which was created in the fall of 2019 by a memorandum signed by Lincoln Prep Executive Director Gordan Ford and SUSLA Chancellor Rodney Ellis.
That memorandum of understanding was signed in October of 2019 and formalized a relationship between the two schools, providing additional dual enrollment opportunities for LPS students and paving the way for this unique associate degree pathway.
Lincoln Prep touts its ECA as being different from most other early college and dual enrollment programs because students may enroll in the program regardless of ACT scores. Even prior to relaxation of ACT rules during the COVID-19 pandemic, Lincoln Prep provided opportunities for interested students to take college developmental courses to qualify for the program, creating a model for greater equity in dual enrollment.
All ECA courses are also taught on the high school campus. The program employs a co-teaching model, where students are assigned a university instructor and a high school teacher for each class. The students attend the high school class and submit assignments via the Moodle online platform. SUSLA and high school teachers collaborate to ensure the success of students.
Using this co-teaching model, neither the university instructor nor the high school teacher is required to have any additional training or certifications.
“We deliberately designed this program so that it could be replicated at any high school in the state, allowing students in rural and underserved areas the opportunity to take dual enrollment classes, regardless of their proximity to a college campus,” Ford said. “Additionally, and importantly, Lincoln Prep pays all the costs of the program. Over 90% of our students come from economically disadvantaged homes. We did not want cost to be a barrier for our students, so we pay for everything. Lincoln Prep pays all tuition and fees, all books and other courseware and even paid their SUSLA graduation fees.”
Ellis, who served as commencement speaker for Lincoln Prep Monday night, said he is proud of the ties his institution had made with Lincoln Prep.”
“Southern University at Shreveport is excited to partner with Lincoln Prep for their Early College Academy,” Ellis asid. “We value the leadership and vision of Mr. Ford and are proud of the work that his faculty have done to ensure that these high school students completed the program timely. SUSLA looks forward to a continued partnership and hopes to have even more students from Lincoln Prep participate in the future.”
Lincoln Prep ECA graduates will also be eligible to participate in SUSLA’s commencement exercises on May 22nd at Independence Stadium in Shreveport.
“Lincoln Prep is all about providing opportunities for our students,” Ford said. “In 2019, Lincoln Prep had a higher percentage of our graduates earning post-secondary credentials and a higher percentage of graduates enrolling in college than any school district in our region, despite having lower average ACT scores than most of those districts.”
According to Louisiana School Finder, 79% of Lincoln Prep seniors (91% of economically disadvantaged students) completed college-level coursework or attained proficiency with an industry-valued skill set recognized by the Workforce Investment Council (WIC) and 73% of Lincoln Prep seniors enrolled in college by the first fall semester after graduating from high school. Lincoln Prep’s 79% for credentials earned and 73% college enrollment rate compare favorably to state averages of 50% and 57% and Lincoln Parish School District averages of 57% and 67% respectively.
Students of Color at Lincoln Prep are reported to be 44% more likely than their peers across the state and 53% more likely than peers in Lincoln parish to earn college or workforce credentials, as 85% of Lincoln Prep Students of Color earned credentials, compared to state and district average rates of 41% and 32%.
Lincoln Prep is currently still accepting applications for the 2021-22 school year. To apply for enrollment, visit http://www.lincolnprep.school. For more information regarding Lincoln Preparatory School’s dual enrollment or Early College Academy program, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call the school office at 318-242-8788