New program will add young teens to college campuses


Starting in 2012, Arizona high school students can choose an accelerated path to graduate in two years and enroll in community college.

Arizona legislators approved the “Move on When Ready” plan in 2010. It takes effect in the 2012-13 school year.

The program’s Grand Canyon Diploma allows students who meet readiness standards to take community college classes after their sophomore year of high school.

“We’re trying to move away from one size fits all,” said Amanda Burke, innovation director at the Center for the Future Education Strategy at Arizona State University.

She described the program as giving students “multiple options based on their own interests.”

PCC Chancellor Roy Flores used more blunt language. “It’s for students who are bored from high school,” Flores said during a Board of Governor’s discussion.

Students who pursue a Grand Canyon Diploma must complete specific courses and pass board exams to prove they have mastered the material.

Those who qualify for the diploma will have four options:

  • Remain in high school and take a traditional curriculum.
  • Remain in high school and enroll in advanced courses to prepare for university entry.
  • Graduate early and enroll in a community college, taking courses at a college campus or at their high school.
  • Graduate early and enroll in a career and technical program, taking classes at a community college or at their high school to earn a technical certificate.


During the March 9 Board of Governors discussion, Flores said he supports the early-enrollment concept, though “I don’t know what it’d be like to have these kinds of students at Pima.”

He said he hopes the program will attract young people to PCC and increase the number of students with college degrees.

Students with a Grand Canyon Diploma are exempt from AIMs testing, but still must take PCC’s readiness assessments for college-level English, reading and math.

“It must demonstrate that the student doesn’t require any remediation,” Flores said.

College-bound high school students traditionally must take four years of English and mathematics and three years of science. However, the “Move on When Ready” program requires two years of English, mathematics and science.

PCC board member Scott Stewart expressed concern about students who are “innumerate, mathematically illiterate.” He said students involved in the program would move on to college without sufficient education.

An interstate board examination will prescribe college readiness standards for mathematics, science and English. Students must also have passing grades in core academic courses such as history and economics, as determined by the State Board of Education.

Students are eligible to take the readiness exam their freshmen year of high school, and may take it as many times as desired.

As PCC considers whether to join “Move On When Ready,” the national program is taking different forms in different states.

States currently participating include Connecticut, Kentucky, Maine, New Mexico, Mississippi and New York, according to Burke.

Area school districts that have expressed interest in joining include Amphitheatre, Vail, Tanque Verde and Sierra Vista. However, no Pima County districts currently have “Early Adopter” schools.

Schools classified as early adopters can offer board examinations as early as Fall 2011. The first Grand Canyon Diplomas will be awarded in May 2013.

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