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IPS Leads the Way: Students Earn College Credits in High School Through Innovative Early College Programs

By Austin Dodd

Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) is at the forefront of innovative education, providing students with opportunities to earn college credits while still in high school. As we celebrate Early College Week (April 22-26), it’s essential to spotlight our advanced academic programs across all academy high schools. 

Early college, synonymous with our Advanced Academics initiative, offers rigorous coursework preparing students for college degrees and credentials. This commitment is embedded in our district’s Rebuilding Stronger plan, ensuring all middle school students access a rigorous curriculum, and laying the foundation for their academic journey.

Our students graduate not only with a high school diploma but also with the Indiana College Core, an associate degree, a technical certificate, or significant dual credits. In the last academic year, IPS students collectively earned more than 4,000 dual credits, translating to substantial cost savings and accelerated pathways to post-secondary success.

The success of our early college initiatives is evident: Arsenal Technical High School, Crispus Attucks High School, and George Washington High School have seen significant increases in dual credit enrollment and credentialing of teachers. This progress aligns with our commitment to excellence, ensuring that our educators meet the rigorous standards set by the Higher Learning Commission to teach dual credit courses effectively.

Also, data shows the substantial savings IPS students have accrued in college tuition through participation in dual credit programs. With IPS students saving about $600,000 in tuition costs in the Fall 2023 semester alone, this underscores the tangible benefits of IPS’s commitment to providing affordable pathways to higher education.

Partnerships have been instrumental in expanding early college opportunities for IPS students. Through collaborations with CELL’s Urban College Acceleration Network (UCAN) initiative and Ivy Tech Community College, we’ve enhanced access to the Indiana College Core, associate degrees, and technical education programs. These partnerships enable us to provide a seamless transition from high school to higher education, equipping students with the skills and credentials necessary for success in today’s workforce.

Shortridge High School’s International Baccalaureate (IB) program exemplifies our commitment to rigorous and inclusive education. With 39 students earning IB Diplomas and more than 150-course assessments eligible for college credit, Shortridge continues to uphold the highest academic standards, preparing students for global citizenship and academic excellence.

As we look ahead, IPS remains dedicated to expanding advanced academic opportunities to every student, regardless of background or zip code. Through continued collaboration with stakeholders, investment in teacher training, and innovative programming, we will empower the next generation of leaders and scholars, ensuring equitable access to quality education and limitless opportunities for success.

IPS’s early college initiatives are transforming the educational landscape, providing students with the tools they need to thrive in college, career, and beyond. As we celebrate Early College Week, let us reaffirm our commitment to excellence and equity, ensuring that every student has the opportunity to achieve their full potential.

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Dr. Austin Dodd is the Director of High School Academies and Pathways for the Postsecondary Readiness Department of Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS).