2017-03-17 / Front Page

KHS kids to earn UNE credit

By Wm. Duke Harrington Staff Writer

Thanks to a new articulation agreement with the University of New England, students may soon graduate from Kennebunk High School with their freshman year of college already finished.

According to a flyer prepared by RSU 21 for circulation among high school students, the newly cemented partnership between the two schools will also give graduates “priority consideration on admission and merit scholarships at UNE.”

The deal, due to be signed at the March 20 meeting of the RSU 21 Board of Directors, allows KHS students who take any of 13 International Baccalaureate (IB) or 16 Advanced Placement (AP) courses simultaneously earn college credit for that work, presuming they score well enough on final course testing.

According to Principal Susan Cressey, Kennebunk High School is one of only three Maine high schools to offer students both IB and AP options.

About 70 percent of seniors take at least one class in either of the two programs, which offer college-level curricula. Many colleges and universities already allow college credit to students from KHS, or else allow them to use the coursework to skip entry-level classes and proceeded directly to more upper-level coursework.

However, those decisions are made on a case-by-case basis. The agreement with UNE means any student going there from KHS who has taken certain IB or AP classes and attained a minimum required score, will automatically enter the Biddeford-based university with college credit in the equivalent courses.

With the number of students at KHS who take AP and/or IP classes, the potential exists for most to enter UNE with at least one college course out of the way on the road to a degree. However, the agreement allows students to leave KHS with up to 30 UNE credits under their belt — the equivalent of having graduated high school with an entire freshmen year at college already complete.

“It’s conceivable that some of our kids could get out [of college] in less than four years. So, that’s a big savings for them in time and in money,” Cressey said.

“That’s a really good deal. I think this is another opportunity in this day and age,” Cressey said. “UNE is such a good school, it’s a growing school, and it’s right here in our students’ back yard, so some students might be able to save even further by continuing to live at home and commuting to class. Some of our best and brightest have applied there already, so with this agreement coming together at this time, it might convince even more of our graduates to consider UNE.”

Apart from attracting more KHS students to UNE, the deal also helps ensure that incoming students are better prepared to a actually earn a degree.

“The other advantage is that if student has done this caliber of coursework in high school, they are more likely to be successful in college,” Cressey said.

According to RSU 21 Superintendent Katie Hawes, the agreement took three years to finalize, while UNE professors reviewed the coursework for each KHS advanced class.

“So, this is a nod to all of our teachers and students, really, that the UNE staff is convinced they are already doing college-level work,” Hawes said.

“They are particularly interested in KHS because our district has such a strong focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) and UNE is very interested in the sciences,” she added, noting that, with a campus in Morocco, UNE has a holistic international approach to its classes, similar to the IB approach.

“This is a continuation of a partnership we have had with UNE for quite some time,” Hawes said. “This is a wonderful opportunity for our kids to continue to excel and have lots of different pathways to success.”

Staff Writer Duke Harrington can be reached at news@kennebunkpost.com.

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