In 1974, an innovative educational dream became a reality. Middle College High School, a public secondary school committed to meeting the vocational and effective needs of under-served youth, opened its doors on the campus of LaGuardia Community College in New York City. The dream was grand: To provide a seamless secondary post-secondary educational continuum, use innovative curricula and pedagogy, and create a small nurturing environment. The mix of these elements together with the power of the site, a high school on a college campus, would produce an exciting path to learning for students who have traditionally been the least well served by public education.

The intended outcomes were noble: To decrease the high school dropout rate and increase the college-going and completion rate. The location of the on college campuses would symbolically signal these under-served students that a college education was possible and the natural,logical next step. Their fellow students would be college students with similar socioeconomic backgrounds who overcame similar obstacles to learning.

Financially both institutions would profit from the cost effective sharing of resources and a reduction in college level remediation courses. Transforming the dream into a reality was complex. An educational collaboration between a high school and a college required two traditionally institutions to examine the assumptions that had allowed each to exist as if the other did not. It needed their financial, administrative and programmatic support to create a hybrid institution of learning for under-served youth. A dedicated, visionary cadre of administrators and faculty came forward, pursued the dream and persisted in making it a reality. The dropout rate decreased, attendance and course pass rates increased, graduation rates exceeded 80%, and college-going rates soared to better than 85%.

Written by: The Middle College National Consortium. Copyright © 2008 MCNC