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ATC, DCSS are poised to create new program

October 10, 2013- Albany, Ga.-- Since assuming the mantle of Albany Technical College presidency in 1995, Anthony Parker has always dreamed of forming a dual enrollment partnership with the Dougherty County School System.

That dream nearly came to fruition last year, but a proposed College and Career Academy failed before the DCSS School Board in a stunning 4-3 vote.

The dream, however, did not die.

At a School Board meeting on Monday, DCSS Director of Finance and Operations Ken Dyer unveiled ongoing conversations between the school system, Albany Tech and Communities In Schools of Georgia on a collaborative effort to stem the county's abysmal 57 percent graduation rate while promoting dual enrollment at ATC.

"When I went on medical leave last year, I thought the College and Career Academy was a fait accompli, but that was not the case," Parker said.

Parker and DCSS Interim Superintendent Butch Mosely have been friends for more than 25 years and have kicked around the twin goals of stanching the system's high drop out rate and getting students to dual enroll at ATC. The two men and their staffs came up with what is tentatively called the College and Career Performance Center.

This is how Dyer said it would work. The program's students will be housed in the currently unused vocational wing at Monroe High School — in close proximity to ATC. The DCSS will gather a group of juniors and seniors who are either behind in graduation credits or at risk of dropping out. Students will be screened and tested in January and February, with the first class winnowed down to 30-60 students who show the greatest potential to graduate by 2015.

Basically, the DCSS will supply the building and students and ATC will provide COMPASS college placement test tutoring to get the students into Albany Tech and onto a career pathway.

"We will still need to sign an articulation agreement with (ATC)," Dyer said. "We are breaking new ground here because this model we are proposing does not exist in the state of Georgia."

To Parker, the timing is right.

"We didn't want to sit back and wait for another college and career academy moment," Parker said. "This program will benefit us all, and we need to take advantage of the opportunity. We have two extremely good teams working on this."

Parker is also aware that getting students past the COMPASS test will make or break the program.

"If a student can pass the COMPASS test, then they are eligible for financial assistance, just like the other 130 dually-enrolled students here at Albany Tech," Parker said.

If the program succeeds, Parker said, it would have a profound impact on the area, the DCSS and Albany Tech.

"We want people to get their high school diplomas at 18 rather than trying for a GED at 26 or 30. You can't get that lost time back," Parker said. "Right now one of our primary focuses is on adult education. But if we can make the Career Performance center work, it would be Albany Tech's greatest accomplishment. We want to reduce the need for adult education, it's really that simple.

See the original story @ ALBANY HERALD

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