Sunday, March 3, 2013

Transforming the High School Experience Through College Academic Integration

It gives me great joy and enthusiasm to announce Somerville's Academy of Liberal Arts. The Academy was the consummation of the Board's Strategic Planning process and a result of the hard work of the Raritan Valley Community College and Somerville Public School administration. The culmination of these efforts have produced a unique program for Somerville High School students. This program will be offered to graduating eighth grade students in Somerville and Branchburg. Students who complete the prescribed four year program will graduate with a High School Diploma, an Associate's Degree in Liberal Arts and a direct connect to selected colleges/universities, including Rutgers. Students enrolled in the program will travel with their classmates through a challenging and rigorous curriculum, as seen below.


This program does not afford students with the flexibility that many students are accustomed to in high school.  Students do not take high school Advanced Placement courses, but rather college courses in pursuit of an Associate's Degree. The students take courses at Somerville High School for the first two years and begin classes at RVCC for their junior year. The junior year courses will be scheduled for the morning so that students can still partake in after school clubs and activities. All senior year courses will be offered at RVCC with a greater flexibility in schedule.

There are a limited number of openings for the program and therefore a selection process will be utilized.  In order to be considered for the program, students must qualify for honors courses (including Honors Algebra II or Honors Geometry).   Applicants are scored on a criteria that includes NJASK scores from Grades 6 and 7, three teacher recommendations (Mathematics, Language Arts and another of the student's selection) and an Accuplacer examination.   Finalists are interviewed by officials at RVCC and must maintain a 3.0 to remain in the program.

We are hosting informational sessions on March 5, 2013 at 6 pm in the Somerville Middle School Media Center and on March 7, 2013 at 6:30 pm in the Branchburg Central Middle School Media Center. We look forward to seeing you there!


Anonymous said...

It is exciting hear all of the details of the program. I still have a question regarding cost. Is the cost outlined in slide 7 Parent Contribution = $3,115 how is that paid and is that a yearly cost, or a total cost for the 4 years. Additionally, how is the payment expected? Lump sum, divided by x months. ETC.

Lennis Carlson

Tim Purnell said...

Mrs. Carlson,

Excellent question! RVCC has provided the following projected parent cost breakdown:

Freshman Year (13-14): Fall ($175) Spring ($175)
Sophomore Year (14-15): Fall ($350) Spring ($175)
Junior Year (15-16): Fall ($533) Spring ($549)
Senior Year (16-17): Fall ($650) Spring ($508)

The total projected parent contribution is $3,115 for the four years. Please note that these rates are subject to change.

Payment plans are available at RVCC for tuition over $250 according to the tuition payment plan options available.

I hope this helps!

angr said...

Please explain how the course menu is a "liberal arts" education. I think a nutritional supplement of philosophy and ethics is needed. How will the students use art and music? The menu appears rigorous in standard math applications but as a parent I would like to see the math applied to cognitive reasoning, logic and philosophy. Again, in what ways does the schedule of classes meet the standards of "liberal arts?"
Also how will the biological/psychological maturity of students enrolled be addressed? Has any analysis of data been gathered regarding students entering junior term college at the chronological age their contemporaries would be as freshman? What is built in to the program to address this concern?

Tim Purnell said...


"The Somerville Academy was developed to ensure students were exposed to a variety of educational opportunities and challenges, as a liberal arts program should. The program meets all of the requirements of an Associates Degree at Raritan Valley Community College. As a cohort, students are required to participate in a Freshman Seminar/DEFT course. This course addresses the cognitive reasoning and ethics supplement you were inquiring about.

As outlined in the Four Year Program of Study, in the senior year students are able to select from an array of electives at RVCC as an extension to the liberal arts program. During the developmental process in the creation of this academy, numerous school districts currently implementing a similar model were used as exemplars.

Freshman through senior year students will partake in a Seminar course. Within this course numerous academic and social supports will be offered. The staff at RVCC has assured us that they too will offer an array of supports, if needed. The success of the students is the main objective."
~ Melissa McCooley (Director of Curriculum & Instruction)

Mrs. McCooley can be reached at (908)218-4102 should you have any additional questions.

Tim Purnell said...

For updated information on the ALA program, please log on to the district homepage.