Baltimore City students underserved by traditional schools are now graduating high school with an associate degree and heading to college.
Established in 2015 with the help of an OSI-Baltimore grant to the Fund for Educational Excellence, the Bard High School Early College Baltimore is designed to allow Baltimore City students to graduate in four years with both a high school diploma and a two-year associate degree, plus up to 60 transferable college credits from Bard College. And it’s free.
The Bard Early College network launched its first campus 15 years ago in New York. The goal was to bring rigorous high school education to public school students while also giving them access to higher
education classes without the high tuition costs. Students are immersed in an academically demanding college preparatory program in the 9th and 10th grades that segues directly into a two-year college course of study, in place of the traditional 11th and 12th grade curriculum.
Bard-Baltimore focuses more on enrolling students who are intellectually curious and motivated to learn, rather than those who have stellar grades and attendance records. In this way, the school has expanded access to students in Baltimore City who otherwise couldn’t afford to go to college. And when students understand they’re capable of doing college-level work, they begin to see themselves as “college material”—something many hadn’t considered before.
Ninety-four percent of students who started in Bard’s inaugural 9th grade class graduated in 2017 – a significantly higher graduation rate than the City’s (71%) or the state’s (88%). The school currently enrolls 309 students across four grade levels and is expected to reach full enrollment of 500 students at the start of the 2018 academic year.