Hudson eyes new way to train kids for college courses

HUDSON–College courses in high school highlighted the Hudson City School District Board of Education meeting November 5. Antonio Abitabile, principal of Hudson High School, both raised the idea of offering college remedial courses and reported on preparations to offer more college credit courses.

Several colleges have remedial classes for students judged unqualified to take college classes. Because college introductory courses typically have number designations in the 100’s, remedial classes have taken on designations in the 90s and are called 090 (“o-ninety”) classes, Mr. Abitabile said. For 090 classes in college, a student generally pays tuition but gets no credit.

“Public schools are graduating more students who aren’t qualified for college courses,” he said. Yet they get into colleges and end up taking 090 classes.

“We have students at Columbia Greene Community College (CGCC) who are accumulating nothing but debt,” added Superintendent Maria L. Suttmeier. “They get frustrated and quit.”

“I spoke with a college dean,” said Mr. Abitabile, “And he suggested we have 090 classes in high school.”

These could earn students high school credit while preparing them to take college level courses for college credit as soon as they enter college.

“Can we take the 090 curriculum and put it into our regular high school courses?” asked school board member Sage Carter.

“What is it they’re teaching in 090 courses that we aren’t teaching in our high school courses?” asked board member Maria McLaughlin.

“There’s a disconnect between what’s taught in 12th grade and what is expected the first year of college,” said Dr. Suttmeier.

“It wasn’t always like this,” said Ms. McLaughlin.

Another board member recalled taking real college courses, not remedial ones, from the start at CGCC, despite not having been a star student in high school.

“Something must have changed,” said Ms. McLaughlin.

Any decision on offering 090 classes in high school or weaving the 090 curriculum into 12th grade courses will wait until the matter the board considers the matter more.

Meanwhile, several students take courses that can earn both high school and college credit simultaneously. These include Advanced Placement (AP) courses, the Bard Early College program and college-in-high school courses. The AP and college-in-high-school classes are held in the high school. Currently Hudson High School offers dual credit college-in-high school courses in partnership with CGCC. Under serious consideration is also partnering with SUNY Cobleskill, for additional course and career-path possibilities.

For college-in-high school courses, students pay tuition but less than what college-on-campus students pay. The teachers must apply to the partnering college for a job as adjunct professor. In addition to the courses’ college requirements, students must fulfill high school requirements, such as taking pertinent Regents tests.

With the partnering college in the SUNY system, any SUNY college will accept credit from admitted students who pass the course with a grade of C- or higher. Private colleges each have their own policy on whether to accept credits and from which courses.

CGCC and SUNY Cobleskill have some similar and some different admission and tuition policies for college-in-high-school. Some of their courses have different syllabi. For some courses, after comparing the syllabi, including for closeness to the AP syllabus, HCSD officials will decide which college to use for a particular. Some courses and career programs are offered by only one program.

“Have you surveyed the students as to what courses they want?” asked board member Linda Hopkins.

“We try to add exposure to careers the students might have never considered,” said Mr. Abitabile.

Currently SUNY Cobleskill is partnering with only one other high school for the college-in-high-school program, he said, indicating that the college wanted to partner with more. Several HCSD officials planned an Election Day trip to SUNY Cobleskill to learn more about the possibilities.

Students who take one college-in-high-school class tend to take many, Student Representative Kyle Ublacker told the board.

Also at the school board meeting:

• Dr. Suttmeier introduced and welcomed Kristin Grogg as a new teaching assistant

• The board announced the retirement of Barbara Elliott after 33 years of service and wished her well. Her positions with the HCSD included substitute teacher aide, substitute secretary, and account clerk.

• The board voted to raise the substitute custodian pay from $10.50 to $12.00 an hour effective the next pay period

• Mr. Abitabile said one of his goals is that every student graduate with at least an idea of a career to pursue.

The next meeting of the HCSD Board of Education is Monday, November 26 in the Montgomery C. Smith Elementary School library, starting with a curriculum workshop at 6 p.m., followed by a regular meeting at 7 p.m.

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