Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Vol State Middle College Proposal

Vol State and Sumner County Schools have teamed up to propose a new High School Middle College for Sumner County. It would be held on the Vol State campus, and part of our regular classes. Dr. Faulkner envisions the program as reaching out to high school juniors who are unlikely to attend college. They would earn a high school diploma and an associate degree at the same time. Middle College has been around for some time now, at schools across the country. Chattanooga State has a popular program that now includes 250 students.

The Hendersonville Star News has an article about the proposal that Dr. Faulkner and Sumner County Schools Director Del Phillips recently made to the school board. The Middle College would have administrators here on campus and keep track of student attendance. Similar programs around the country have shown great success with student achievement.Typical middle college graduates achieve 100 percent proficiency on high school benchmark exams. On average, 90 percent of middle college graduates transfer to a four-year college or university.

Vol State faculty and staff will likely have many questions about the program. We put a few of them to Dr. Faulkner.

Will targeting academically challenged high school juniors make it tougher for faculty members to teach classes?  We are not targeting academically challenged students.  In fact, just the opposite.  We are seeking students that have demonstrated the capability to excel academically but have “checked out” of the high school scene and are at risk.  Also, we are seeking students that again are academically gifted but may not have the resources to attend college.

What kinds of extra support will we provide for these students?  There will be a Sumner County School principal on our campus.  There will also be a secretary / advisor and a part-time guidance counselor.

Will the high school students be mature enough for a college campus?  There is an extensive application process for potential students.  In addition to the paper application, potential students will need references from their current principal and guidance counselor.  Also each student will go through an interview process that will include a representative from Vol State. I was at Chattanooga State when a middle college was initiated there.  It was a resounding success and they now have an enrollment around 250.

The Sumner School Board is due to take up the proposal again next week.


  1. What would be the proposed timeline for this program?

  2. I believe they are hoping that with approval they could start next year.

  3. Vol State is trying to establish priorities for limited resources. Is Teaching H.S. students such a high priority for VSCC?

    How can students possibly perform two years of high school work AND two years of college work at the same time? Or is there HS curriculum you consider unnecessary such that it can skipped while students pursue college-level work? What will be skipped or condensed to allow four years of academic work in two years?

  4. We asked Dr. Faulkner for a response to both of these questions:

    Yes. It is planned for the first cohort to be enrolled next Fall.

    The program will bring in approx. 100 FTE (50 in Fall, 50 in spring) The resources gained will more than offset any expense associated with the program. That being said, Middle College will be evaluated in the prioritization process like other programs.

    Students in Middle College will take only college classes and those college classes will satisfy high school graduation requirements.

    1. The way it was explained to me, I think that the Sumner County Board of Education is actually footing the bill for these students.

  5. When is our papers supposed to be turned in?

  6. Not sure anon...check with the Sumner Board of Education for details.

  7. Where is high school diploma from? Is this the same as a GED or traditional high school diploma?

  8. It's a sumner county high school that is on the Vol State campus. It is a traditional high school diploma.