Bellefonte Area High School students could get the chance by next school year to take more classes that might be eligible for college credit.
This school year, administrators at Bellefonte Area rolled out a program called College in the Classroom, which allows students to receive credit through the the University of Pittsburgh at a reduced cost.
Those classes include general chemistry, analytic geometry and calculus I, western civilization II, introduction to psychology and American politics.
Principal Jennifer Brown said the goal is to prepare students for the next phase of their education, while also saving them money.
College in the Classroom tuition for UPitt is $225 per three-credit class. Students must pass the class with a grade of C or better in order to receive credit.
And administrators are also looking for ways to enhance the program by adding more College in the Classroom courses.
Brown said UPitt is working with Bellefonte Area administrators to also offer college credit for history I and II classes starting as soon as next school year.
“You will definitely see growth from last year, as well, with the University of (Pittsburgh), and I’m excited to report that we’re actually offering some non-(Advanced Placement) courses for college credit,” Brown said at a school board meeting last week. “It was important to me that if we have classes of high rigor that they were offered to not only students who were on the AP track, but also students in some of our other rigorous, but general, classes because they can also get the option to earn college credit.”
There is also a plan in the works to offer an African-American history course through UPitt, starting in the 2018-19 school year.
Brown said that plan pending while some teachers complete extra schooling that would get them better acquainted with teaching that class.
“University of Pitt has been great to work with and are kind of using us as guinea pigs with different initiatives they want to try, and we’re happy to go on this journey with them,” Brown said.
During the board meeting, some members were concerned that the school is surrendering certain classes to the university.
But Brown said that’s not the case.
For instance, Bellefonte Area will continue to offer classes like AP government, and allow students to decide whether they want to participate in the college credit route.
“Students who are enrolled in (the) class can opt to pay the fee to be Pitt-enrolled, plus earn the high school credit, plus then they can take the AP exam as well, so it’s still the same class,” Brown said. “Some students in the class may be enrolled in the University of Pitt, and some may opt not to, and just opt to take the AP exam. Either way it’s the same content.”
The teacher, Ed Fitzgerald, plans to work collaboratively with the department chairperson at UPitt to make sure he’s teaching to their content specifications.
Bellefonte Area also offers a partnership with St. Francis University for world language curriculum and Seton Hill University for the business department.
Brown said the universities were selected for a partnership because they all offered courses that are “highly transferable” to other universities.