A new high school offering students a high school diploma and associates degree is the first in Philadelphia and the first of its kind accredited in the Commonwealth, according to the Community College and Philadelphia and the School District of Philadelphia.
Parkway Center City Middle College, 540 N. 13th St., officially welcomes the class of 2021 this fall. Freshman students are attending a summer bridge program now through Aug. 9 that is a requirement for all incoming ninth graders. At the completion of the program, students will rack up three credit hours before school officially begins.
“Any time we can provide a college experience as a part of a child’s high school experience, I think it’s a fundamental game changer for what our young people can experience as part of their four years in high school,” School District of Philadelphia Superintendent William Hite said. “The uniqueness of it is that it’s going to be the first in the Commonwealth and the fact that it’s here in Philly is even more important.”
For the first year, the school will only have freshman, adding a grade level each year. By the time students graduate, the goal is for them to have accumulated approximately 61 credits to go toward a bachelor’s degree should they chose to continue on to college. Anh Nguyen-Brown is the principal, and the staff will consist of district teachers with the college courses supervised by CCP staff.
In addition to an associates degree and diploma, students will be able to earn certification in entrepreneurship, computer programming and software development. Students had to apply through the school’s selection process and were chosen based off grades, test scores and attendance, behavior and their desire to attend college. Sports and club extra-curricular activities will still be offered.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for the students that are eligible for it,” said CCP President Donald Guy Generals. “It’s a proven practice to help students be successful in college. We know college drives the success for the economy and the city.”
Parkway Center City Middle College and CCP are .05 miles apart. Juniors and seniors will eventually take all of their classes at CCP. Freshmen will have one and sophomore students will have two courses on the collegiate campus.
The first Middle College Program began in New York City in 1974 on the campus of a community college.
Will J. Jordan, an associate professor at Temple University’s College of Education in the Department of Policy, Organizational and Leadership Studies, has studied middle colleges and wrote a research paper on the topic.
“It’s a solid model that has been around for a while,” Jordan said. “It’s another pathway (students) can get to college and not have it be as expensive.
“Going to city college and then Temple might be a wise choice,” he added. “In my experience (middle colleges) have been pretty positive. I’m actually glad to hear that Philadelphia is getting one.”