USM, Montgomery College, Public Schools Partner to Boost College Opportunities for High-School Students

University System of Maryland, Montgomery College, Montgomery County Public Schools Forge New Agreement to Expand Higher Education Partnerships with High Schools

October 18, 2006

A new agreement between the University System of Maryland, Montgomery College, and Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) will pave the way for the expansion and acceleration of partnerships that will give students more opportunities for early exposure to college courses and college life.

University System of Maryland Chancellor William E. Kirwan, Montgomery College President Charlene R. Nunley and Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) Superintendent Jerry D. Weast gathered at Wootton High School today to publicly sign the memorandum of understanding between the institutions.

Through the agreement, the University System of Maryland, Montgomery College, and MCPS will work cooperatively to increase the number of college-level programs and coursework available for MCPS students in county high schools. The goal is to provide all students capable of college-level work, including those students from traditionally underrepresented groups, with the opportunity to take courses while still in high school and to be exposed to college-level experiences.

The agreement also calls for the formation of a small, collaborative group of representatives from each institution that will meet periodically to encourage and solicit new and innovative program ideas that will provide college-level opportunities for MCPS students.

Wootton High School was chosen as the site for the signing ceremony because it is one of four MCPS schools that currently hosts the College Institute program, which brings Montgomery College courses directly to high-achieving MCPS high school seniors. Through that effort, Montgomery College professors teach courses in the high schools, giving students the opportunity to earn college credits before leaving high school. Wootton was the first school to host the program, beginning in 2002. The College Institute program has since expanded to three other County high schools-Gaithersburg, Kennedy and Seneca Valley-and has served nearly 1,100 students since its inception.

"In 2002, we were just beginning to see the potential of early college opportunities for high school students with the College Institute program," said Dr. Jerry D. Weast, superintendent of schools. "Today, that potential is being fully realized with the signing of this cooperative agreement with the University System of Maryland and Montgomery College."

"This framework for expansion of higher education partnerships will provide wonderful opportunities for our students," said Dr. Charles Haughey, president of the Montgomery County Board of Education. "Students from families unfamiliar with the college application process will be among the greatest beneficiaries."

"This agreement symbolizes the message that we want to send to students," said Dr. Charlene R. Nunley, president of Montgomery College. "It is that college is within their reach and that we want to do all we can to prepare them for success at the collegiate level."

"Our signing of this agreement today demonstrates that we are working as one educational system-K-12, community colleges, four-year universities-in the best interests of our students," said Dr. William E. Kirwan, chancellor of the University System of Maryland. "And most important, this partnership will increase students' access to higher education, and thereby, their opportunities to build successful lives and careers in the decades to come."

School, college and university officials hope the new agreement will help to spearhead a variety of new partnerships between the state's universities and colleges, and county schools. One such example of collaboration between MCPS, Montgomery College, and a University System of Maryland institution-University of Maryland, Baltimore County-is Wheaton High School's Institute for Global and Cultural Studies. The academy program, which opened this fall to ninth graders, explores different cultures and global issues while giving students opportunities for early access to college-level courses.

Recently, MCPS launched another special program aimed at providing early college opportunities for Northwood High School students. The program, modeled on the concept of Early College High Schools, is the result of the collaboration between MCPS and the University of Maryland, College Park. Through that program, Northwood High School students will have the opportunity to take college-level courses at Maryland and use its facilities.

- - - - - - - - - - - - -

Media Contact: Brian Edwards, 301-279-3214 (MCPS); Steve Simon, 301-251-7952 (Montgomery College); Anne Moultrie, 301-445-2722 (USM)

Contact: Anne Moultrie
Phone: 301.445.2722