Advanced Course Access Grant Program Overview: Greater Southern Tier BOCES
Award Years: 2021-2023
The Greater Southern Tier (GST) BOCES will lead a consortium of eight component school districts (Arkport, Canaseraga, Elmira, Elmira Heights, Hornell, Spencer-Van Etten, Watkins Glen, and Waverly) in the ACE Plus project, a differentiated dual-credit program that will increase access to advanced course work for 4,841 8th-12th grade students in the southern tier region of New York State.
Each of the 8 consortium districts and GST BOCES CTE programs offer access to advanced courses such as Advanced Placement (AP) classes and/or Accelerated College Entrance (ACE) dual-credit classes offered in conjunction with local colleges such as Corning Community College, Alfred State, and Tompkins Cortland Community College. However, there is a lack of equity between districts and students, including CTE students, participating in the current program. The courses offered vary greatly from district to district. The small number of students interested in taking advanced courses coupled with the lack of qualified and accredited teachers also limits the available options. Due to the emphasis on transferability of credit, classes that are offered generally meet college general education requirements (i.e., English Composition, College Algebra, and the Natural Sciences). Sequencing of coursework and career pathways are absent as students take whatever classes are offered and fit into their schedule.
Currently, advanced coursework is overwhelmingly accessed only by high achieving students who are likely to pursue college regardless of the programs offered in high school. Formal and informal policies adopted by the districts limit the pool of students who are able to enroll in advanced courses. As a result, middle to low achieving students do not see AP and ACE classes, or even college, as an option available to them. Additionally, underrepresented students, particularly those who are low-income and/or first-generation college students, are unlikely to take advanced coursework. These students are often interested in college-level coursework but are unsure how to enroll or even if they can be successful at it. This belief curbs their desire to explore their opportunities to explore all the post-secondary options available to them.
The ACE Plus project design was informed by research conducted by the Community College Research Center and the Education Commission of the United States. This innovative, versatile and flexible model will increase student access to advanced coursework through:
- Offering advanced courses outside of the traditional school day, including afterschool, summer, online, and through distance learning;
- Expanding the current menu of course offerings to include college and career pathways;
- Increasing recruitment of participating students to include underrepresented, middle- and low-achieving students;
- Implementing supports for participating students to include expanded learning time (weekly seminars), tutoring, and trained mentoring focused on habits of mind; and
- Providing professional development and support for NYS Certified Teachers of advanced coursework.
GST BOCES will coordinate the ACE Plus project and will create the infrastructure and supports necessary to increase sustainable access to advanced coursework in the 8 participating districts. This program will be managed by the ACE Plus Project Coordinator, a GST BOCES staff member who will serve as a liaison between participating districts to ensure that the project is meeting deliverables. Each district site will be managed by a Site Coordinator and supported by ACE Plus Coaches that will serve as mentors for the students.