For the past six weeks, 175 sophomores at the District’s five Early College STEM Schools have been engaged in a summer geometry class to help them get ahead not only in math, but also in college.
“It’s a lot of work,” said Josh Kaufmann, Senior Manager of Early College Initiatives for CPS. “I give the students credit for putting in so many hours during the summer. But it really will give them a leg up, so that makes it a huge win.”
These high-achieving students attend Clark, Corliss, CVCA, Goode, and Lake View High Schools. All excelled in Algebra during their freshman year, thus they were given the chance to plow through geometry in a six-week summer intensive – an option that will allow them to take more advanced math classes (trigonometry, calculus, etc.) at earlier points in their high school careers.
To avoid summer learning loss, and to maintain the strong attendance numbers that had been seen throughout the school year, the summer geometry class began less than one week after school let out in June.
“We cover a full year of geometry in 135 instructional hours, “said Kaufmann. “But it’s not just a bunch of kids staring at a whiteboard. We make the class interactive and project based. For example – the students might measure an acute angle based not on pencil lines, but on the way a tree casts it shadow on the ground.”
Launched in fall 2012, the Early College STEM Schools give CPS students the opportunity to earn college credits even before they graduate from high school. Thus the purpose of summer geometry is to help students capitalize on higher learning opportunities that will present themselves down the road.
“It’s somewhat theoretical at this point, since this was our first year, but most students could realistically earn between 15 and 30 hours of college credit while still in high school,” said Kaufmann. “That could mean one full year of college and half of their Associate’s degree.”
The Early College STEM Schools have partnered with the City Colleges of Chicago and DePaul University to offer grade-eligible students college courses during their junior and senior years. These courses include English 101, college-level math, and general education courses in the social sciences. These schools have also partnered with such corporations as Microsoft, Cisco, IBM, Motorola Solutions and Verizon Wireless to provide students with mentoring opportunities and workplace learning experiences such as job shadows and internships. Additionally, all students in Early College STEM Schools complete rigorous technology coursework to prepare them for the careers of the 21st Century.
“Like all CPS schools, we want to prepare our students for the future,” said Kaufmann. “Our goal is to get them on an early path to college, because if they have that strong start, they’re more likely to continue on after graduating high school.”
The summer geometry course was the first class of its kind to be offered by the Early College STEM Schools, but administrators hope that more accelerated courses will be added in the future.
“I can see the potential for summer college courses on campus or in the City Colleges,” said Kaufmann. “There might even come a time when the most aggressive student could graduate high school having nearly earned his or her Associate’s degree. We are all energized by the possibilities.”