Last Thursday, June 17, The College of New Jersey and the Trenton Board of Education formally announced a partnership to allow Trenton students to earn dual enrollment college credits while in high school under the national Early College High School Program.

TCNJ Kate Foster, TCHS Board Memeber Addie Daniels-Lane and Assisant Superintendent Hope Grant at Articulation Signing at Trenton Cental High School, Trenton NJ, June 17th, 2021 (photo/ Aaron Wilson Watson)
Articulation Signing at Trenton Central High School, Trenton NJ, June 17th, 2021 (photo/ Aaron Wilson Watson)

The announcement event, which was attended by TCNJ President Kathryn A. Foster, Trenton Mayor W. Reed Gusciora, local elected officials, and representatives of the Trenton School Board, was held at Trenton Central High School.

“Overall the state’s education system ranks #1 in the nation, yet once the data are disaggregated, significant equity and achievement gaps emerge, particularly by race and ethnicity and economic status,” Foster said. “The partners for this project, which is the first of its kind for TCNJ, are aiming to close those gaps by establishing an Early College pathway program which also supports the national initiative and state call for the promotion of increased cooperation between secondary schools and institutions of higher education.”

This fall 24 Trenton Central High School students will participate in the program, which will enrich and broaden their educational experiences, provided them with a stimulating and rigorous educational challenge, allow them to practice the skills they will need for success in college, and give them college credits that may be applied toward a college degree.

“Trenton is a city of many challenges and overcoming them requires our students to have access to the best education tools available,” said Mayor W. Reed Gusciora. “We are tremendously grateful to our partners at TCNJ and the Trenton Board of Education who put together this program. Thanks to their efforts, our high school students can access a pathway that gives them the tools and curriculum to jump start their collegiate journeys before they graduate.”

The TCNJ Dual Enrollment Courses are college-level courses taught at the high schools, college, online, or hybrid to eligible, enrolled high school students using the college’s textbooks and syllabi. When participants successfully complete a dual-enrollment course and meet the grade requirement, they receive college transfer credit.

“The best thing that we give our students is not just a high school diploma, but the ability to have options — the option of colleges they want to attend or careers they are ready and prepared to handle,” said Assistant Superintendent of Trenton Secondary Schools Hope Grant. “Our district mission is to ensure that our students are college and career-ready. This partnership allows that to happen in real-time with real results.”

The national Early College High School initiative was established by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in 2002 with compelling results: 90 percent of participants graduate from high school versus 78 percent in traditional programs; 30 percent graduate high school with a postsecondary credential along with a diploma; and participants save 60 percent on average on college tuition.