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CCPS, CSM partner to offer early college program for high school students

Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) and the College of Southern Maryland (CSM) have partnered to offer high school students a tuition-free early start to higher education by piloting a new Early College Program. As part of the joint program, CCPS will offer 150 total spaces to high school juniors from four high schools: Henry E. Lackey, St. Charles, Thomas Stone and Westlake high schools.

Accepted students will be enrolled in both CSM and their zoned high school their senior year. Students will attend classes at the CSM La Plata campus and receive both high school credit and CSM credits for those courses. These students will work toward a 34-credit certification program that allows them to complete transferable college credits and their high school diploma requirements at the same time. As both a CCPS and CSM student, the program offers enrolled students one year of free college credits. The 2022-2023 pilot phase may expand to include high school juniors and seniors at all CCPS high schools starting with the 2023-2024 school year.

CCPS is covering tuition for all participating students and associated course fees for eligible students in the Free and Reduced Meals (FARM) program. Cost of the pilot program for CCPS next year is estimated at $694,000, which includes tuition, instructional materials, meals and transportation.

Members of the Board of Education of Charles County and the CSM Board of Trustees met yesterday to finalize and sign the program memorandum of understanding. Superintendent of Schools Maria Navarro said she is excited to provide students with an opportunity to explore their academic potential after high school.

“Through this partnership program, Charles County high school students who may not have had supports in place or financial help for college now have an opportunity to explore their potential," Navarro said. "Early College Program students will take 11 college classes as seniors and graduate high school with the first year of a general studies college program completed. Not only is this program free for our families, but CCPS will provide transportation to and from CSM for accepted students. These students will also have two avenues of academic and well-being supports through resources available at their home school and CSM. The Board and CCPS leadership team are excited to offer this program to our families."

Early College makes possible college for young adults who otherwise have few opportunities to continue with higher education and gives students an opportunity to experience college-level courses, accelerate the path to degree completion and the workforce, and save money on tuition. Upon completion, the partnership pilot between CSM and CCPS will earn Early College students their high school diplomas, 34 college credits and a General Studies Transfer certification. It will also save the students and their families $4,556 in tuition costs. 

“This partnership opens doors for students who may have never thought that college was an option for them and that means we are reaching our most important communities,” said CSM President Dr. Maureen Murphy. “We are thrilled to have this opportunity to transform lives, broaden college accessibility and introduce these students to their regional community college in a meaningful way.”

Students must apply for program consideration and high schools will encourage students who meet the following criteria to apply: students who do not see college as an option; students with potential for enhanced academic achievement; and students from underrepresented and underserved populations.

Next month, CSM will host parent information sessions for interested families at the pilot schools that may include a mix of virtual and in-person meetings. The application process and program timeline will be announced soon.

Counselors at the pilot high schools will also review student applications to ensure the schedule of classes meets graduation requirements.

Application criteria for the program include:

  • Rising CCPS senior.
  • Students must have a minimum of 20 credits at the end of their junior year.
  • Met the Algebra I, English 10, LSN Government and Science assessment and student-service learning graduation requirements.
  • Demonstration of an unweighted 2.75 GPA at the time of the application.

Part of the application also includes the completion of an open-ended writing sample. The application will be posted on the school system website at Students and parents with questions should contact their child’s junior class counselor.

Through the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future legislation, CCPS must provide high school students with a free college and career readiness pathway by the 2023-2024 school year.

About CCPS

Charles County Public Schools provides 27,000 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 37 schools that offer a technologically advanced, progressive and high quality education that builds character, equips for leadership and prepares students for life, careers and higher education.

The Charles County public school system does not discriminate based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age or disability in its programs, activities or employment practices. For inquiries, please contact Kathy Kiessling, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 Coordinator (students) or Nikial Majors, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 coordinator (employees/ adults), at Charles County Public Schools, Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building, P.O. Box 2770, La Plata, MD 20646; 301-932-6610/301-870-3814. For special accommodations call 301-934-7230 or TDD 1-800-735-2258 two weeks prior to the event. CCPS provides nondiscriminatory equal access to school facilities in accordance with its Use of Facilities rules to designated youth groups (including, but not limited to, the Boy Scouts).