EKU, Madison Co. Schools Join Forces to Establish Middle College

Photo from news conference

Eastern Kentucky University and Madison County Schools have joined forces to become the first local school district and four-year university in the Commonwealth to offer a Middle College to help high school juniors and seniors who are academically capable but at risk of dropping out of school.

University and school district officials announced the partnership at a news conference today on EKU’s campus.

The Middle College, a concept that has gained increasing national attention in recent years, allows high school juniors and seniors to complete a high-quality high school education while concurrently receiving direct access to college courses. The Middle College will be located on EKU’s Richmond campus.

Officials noted that many high school students fail to reach their full potential because of various barriers in their lives, often dropping out.

Madison County Schools Superintendent Tommy Floyd said the District had been exploring the possibility of a Middle College since he heard Kentucky Commissioner of Education Dr. Terry Holliday describe his experience with the Middle College concept in North Carolina.

“Along with our partners – EKU and the Kentucky Department of Education – we believe our Middle College is an important investment in an identified population of students who deserve our best efforts,” Floyd said. “While we are now navigating in waters new to the Commonwealth, we believe this effort places our school district in a position to truly see that every one of our students count.”

Noting that two of EKU’s primary mission focuses are student success and regional stewardship, EKU President Doug Whitlock said the Middle College “sits right at the intersection of these two objectives. As a state, we are committed to college and career readiness and to increasing the level of educational attainment in our population. I am excited about the opportunity to test the role of the middle college as a tool to better serve young people and meet those worthy objectives.”

The news conference also featured remarks from Holliday and Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education President Dr. Robert King.

Sixty high school juniors in the Madison County School District will participate in the Middle College in 2011-12. In each subsequent year, 60 juniors and 60 seniors will participate. Once accepted into the Middle College, participants will be enrolled in both high school and EKU classes. Upon high school graduation, the participants will have earned not only a high school diploma but also a minimum of 18 college credit hours. Most of the college credits earned would be in general studies courses in the University’s College of Arts and Sciences.

Madison County Schools will bear the costs for staffing and equipping the Middle College, also paying tuition and fees for the students enrolled in EKU college classes. The University will provide classrooms, limited office space, services and other forms of support.

The project will also include a long-term research and evaluation component.

Published on May 19, 2011