NC Legislators, Business and Education Leaders Discuss Important Role of Early Colleges

Raleigh, N.C.– The Hunt Institute is hosting North Carolina legislators and education leaders on May 10 at Wake Early College of Health and Sciences for an education policy visit and discussion on the role early colleges play in postsecondary attainment.

The event, which will run from 7:30-11 a.m., will begin with opening remarks, followed by student-led tours that will highlight what sets their school apart from a traditional high school. Attendees will participate in two panel discussions – the first with the school’s principal, Lisa Cummings, and a current and former student, and the second focused on a broader conversation about the role North Carolina’s early college high schools have in the state’s efforts to achieve an ambitious postsecondary attainment goal.

“North Carolina serves as a leading example in the early college model,” said Rep. James Gailliard (NC HD-25). “I’m looking forward to learning more about how these schools contribute to our students’ success.”

The second panel will feature Dr. Scott Ralls, president of Wake Tech Community College, Col. Mike Davis, president of the Business Advisory Board for Wake STEM Early College and Edna Wallace, education consultant for RTI Education Services.  

“As we prepare our students for this ever-changing economy, we must provide them with challenging and innovative opportunities,” said Dr. Ralls. “Wake Early College demonstrates how education, business and community work together to provide these outstanding programs that meet the diverse needs of our students, while preparing them for high-demand jobs.”

Wake Early College of Health and Sciences provides students with opportunities to explore health and science careers through partnerships with Wake Tech and WakeMed Health and Hospitals. This five-year public high school program allows students to earn their high school diploma and an associate degree, college transfer credit and prerequisite courses to prepare for health sciences degree, or certificate. 

“We’re excited for our policymakers to learn firsthand about the significance of these high school programs and how they strengthen not just the community in which they serve, but the entire state,” said Dr. Javaid Siddiqi, president & CEO of The Hunt Institute. “These non-traditional high schools play a critical role in meeting North Carolina’s postsecondary attainment goal of 2 million residents holding a high quality degree or credential by 2030.”  

In North Carolina, schools that are intentionally structured to give students dual enrollment opportunities are known as Cooperative Innovative High Schools (CIHS). CIHS partner with an institution of higher education – either a local community college, UNC campus or private institution – and offer students the opportunity to complete tuition-free college coursework while getting their high school diploma.

This discussion is the second of three convenings The Hunt Institute is hosting this spring. On April 30, legislators participated in a discussion on school performance grades and on June 11, they will convene for a discussion on pensions in teacher compensation with Chad Aldeman, senior associate partner, of Bellwether Education Partners.