Pathways Middle College High School, located on the third floor of the OCCC Main Building, is now a charter school, said Pathways Director Chris McAdoo.
Pathways is part of the Santa Fe South charter school, a change that occurred at the start of this school year.
“As a charter school, kids apply to go to school here, but we cannot pick and choose. Basically we have a lottery to see who gets to go here,” McAdoo said.
Basically, how it works is, siblings [get first priority], Oklahoma City Public Schools students [get second priority], and then anyone else who applies.
“If we have 300 students apply and only have 100 spots available to fill, those students who are not selected will be placed on a waiting list and will be the first priority if one of the 100 students vacates their spot,” McAdoo said.
The transition from public school to charter school is not the only change that Pathways is seeing this year.
“The other thing that’s completely different is that we are now pushing every junior and senior, once they qualify for concurrent enrollment, to enroll as full-time college students,” McAdoo said.
The goal is for the students to carry 12 college credits per semester.
According to www.occc.edu, to qualify for concurrent enrollment as a high school junior, a student must have a 21 or higher score on their ACT test, or have a grade point average of at least 3.5. High school seniors must have a 19 or higher score on the ACT, or a grade point average of at least 3.0 to enroll in college classes.
McAdoo said that Pathways currently has 25 juniors, 10 of whom are enrolled in concurrent courses. There are 14 seniors at Pathways this year, he said, and six of them are enrolled in concurrent courses.
“We are projected to enroll those students, plus about eight more in the spring,” McAdoo said. “Our goal is to have 100 percent junior and senior enrollment into the concurrent program by fall 2015. This is a lofty goal, but we are aiming high.
“So for our junior class, when they graduate here in 2016, they will also graduate with an associate’s degree before they graduate with their high school diploma.”
McAdoo said that even though the juniors and seniors will be in college classes all day, they will still be getting credit for their required high school hours.
For instance, if Pathways students take college chemistry in high school, they also get credit for high school chemistry as well, McAdoo said.
Although the students spend the majority of their day in concurrent college courses, they do attend one class each day at Pathways.
“Our seniors take a senior capstone class, focused on development for life after high school, either going to college or the workforce. We also talk about scholarships and financial literacy,” McAdoo said. “A capstone class is to help the student, in any way possible, whatever that may be.
“Right now our juniors are in charge of the school’s video yearbook, so they all take yearbook and journalism here once a day,” McAdoo said.
McAdoo said the Pathways faculty is still available to provide a full-day schedule to any junior students, if needed.
“If they have not qualified yet as a junior, we work extensively to get them into college,” he said. “We work really hard to help prepare them to take the ACT, to raise their score so that they can then qualify.
“If they don’t qualify, we still offer junior English, we still offer Algebra II, and we still offer all the other high school subjects.
“Eventually we will transition to where, hopefully, we will have all of the juniors and seniors in the college classes and then just freshmen and sophomores in our classrooms,” McAdoo said.
“If we grew the student body to where every single junior and senior was in college classes, then we could double in size easily, because the juniors and seniors wouldn’t be in our classes as much, they would be out in the college classrooms,” McAdoo said. “The change is great for growth at Pathways, which in turn produces growth at OCCC, and it gives our students the opportunity to receive a higher education.”
McAdoo said that a major benefit to the Pathways juniors and seniors is that they are encouraged and assisted by the Pathways staff while they are taking their college courses.
“We have a support system here where we can support them and assist them and look at how to improve their grades. They are not college students just sent out to go to college and have fun. We are here to support them along the way, and that is something that we are really proud of here.”
For more information, McAdoo can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and by phone at 405-815-7919.