South St. Paul Students Can Earn AA Degree Through Inver Hills This Fall

Inver Hills is also working with students in Apple Valley, Burnsville, Rosemount and Inver Grove Heights through its Leading and Developing Readiness (LADR) program.

Beginning the 2012-13 school year, high school students in South St. Paul will be able to graduate from high school with an Associate's degree from without ever stepping foot on a college campus or paying for a college class.

Inver Hills and South St. Paul Public Schools finalized the details of an agreement July 31 that allows students pursuing South St. Paul Secondary’s International Baccalaureate Diploma Program to earn credits at both institutions simultaneously.

For South St. Paul students, this means they have the opportunity to earn a high school diploma, an IB Diploma and an Associate of Arts degree by the end of their senior year of high school.

"With rising college tuition costs throughout the nation, I am pleased that our partnership will provide both academic and financial benefits to students who attend South St. Paul Public Schools," district Superintendent Dave Webb said.

Inver Hills expects to award associate degrees to 30 students each year through the partner program, which is available at no cost to the student.

An informational meeting for parents and students is scheduled for 3 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 8, at South St. Paul Secondary.

"The school district reached out to us and expressed a desire for this type of a program for its students, and we believe we’re providing a strong community service in following through," said Doug Binsfeld, dean of humanities and fine arts at Inver Hills and coordinator of the college’s program. "We see the value in what they’re doing and how they’re doing it, and we’re glad to be their partner of choice in this endeavor."

The South St. Paul district has a long-standing reputation offering IB programs, having been the first district in the state to offer the organization’s full K-12 programming.

At the high school level, the Diploma Program is a challenging course of studies that requires students to take exams at the end of each course that are externally assessed by IB examiners from around the world.

In addition to testing in each of six study areas—language, individuals and societies, mathematics and computer science, the arts, experimental sciences and second language—IB Diploma candidates must take a Theory of Knowledge course, write a 4,000-word research essay and complete a community service program.

Though the courses are taught by high school teachers with IB training, Inver Hills faculty will supervise the curriculum, evaluating each course to ensure it meets college standards.

"South St. Paul Secondary is so proud to partner with Inver Hills to provide our students with this unprecedented opportunity," Principal H. Butch Moening said.

In addition to this program, Inver Hills is working to prepare high school students in Apple Valley, Burnsville, Rosemount and Inver Grove Heights for college through its Leading and Developing Readiness (LADR) program, which targets students in the "academic middle" who earn average grades.

The college also offers concurrent enrollment options and PSEO.

Joe Atkins August 07, 2012 at 12:47 PM
This is a terrific opportunity for both South St. Paul High School and Inver Hills. I commend officials at both institutions for their efforts to put this partnership together,
Al Tate August 07, 2012 at 01:26 PM
This is a great program, but it also discriminates against others who want the same opportunity. What about the working parent who goes back to school? Why can't they get the same type of opportunity? What about the returning military veteran? What about average Joe or Judy who just wants to further their future, can they go back to SSP and participate in the IB program "without ever having to step foot on a college campus"? There is a lot wrong with this program. Don't be surprised if you hear more complaints, bias and discrimination suits emerge.
Jeff Roberts August 07, 2012 at 05:22 PM
Al, I think you're confusing the issue. This program is an opportunity for current high school students to get the most from their education. I believe the cut-off age for a person to attend a HS in Minnesota is 22 years old. Your argument that this program "discriminates against others who want the same opportunity" doesn't hold water unless you're arguing that the cut-off age is discriminatory too.
Al Tate August 07, 2012 at 05:36 PM
My argument is why do they get free credit towards a college education when others don't? Why can't others who have already completed high school get an opportunity to get free education like this? There are many people out there who have completed high school, even at a high level of excellence, but maybe didn't go to college, now they have to go and pay full price, go on campus, etc. Why can't their high school experience qualify for the AA degree, or at least go towards accumulating credit? Life skills trump high school experience in many ways, yet those like vets, working parents, or average Joe who wants to obtain an AA has to pay, but the current HS student doesn't? This is not fair.


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