By Joe Nathan
West 7th students and families have great opportunities to earn free college credit and/or customize their education in the coming months, thanks to many free public school options. These options can help youth identify and develop their gifts, talents, and interests. Options can also help students develop basic and applied life skills.
In the next month, St Paul families and students can select their high school and high school classes for the 2022-23 school year.
One of the most valuable options for high school students, beginning for some in the ninth grade, is to earn free college credit through courses taught in high school, online, or on college campuses.
Free Minnesota Post-Secondary Enrollment Option courses are available in “hands-on” academic and vocational subjects. Although not as well known, beginning in the 10th grade, students can take free vocational courses at public two-year colleges such as St. Paul College and the Finishing Trade Institute. Students in grades 11 and 12 can take free academic courses at many colleges and universities. Admission requirements vary.
Students can take PSEO courses on college campuses or online. State law requires high schools to allow students to use school computers to take PSEO courses. Students must register for PSEO classes by May 30. Information here: https://education.mn.gov/mde/fam/dual/pseo/.
Additionally, students in grades 10-12 who are proficient in any of the 27 world languages can earn free credit at Minnesota state colleges and universities if they pass the exams (no courses are required). Languages include ASL, Arabic, Chinese, Dakota, German, Hmong, Karen, Ojibwe, Somali, and Spanish. Information here: education.mn.gov/MDE/dse/stds/world/seals/.
Virtually every district and charter high school in St. Paul offers some college-level courses, called Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, or Concurrent Enrollment/College in Schools. College credit for AP and IB is based mostly or entirely on the student’s final exam score. College credit for other courses depends on the student’s work during the term. The Minnesota Office of Higher Education explains dual credit college/university acceptance policies here: bit.ly/3sfZIcT.
Minnesota requires each student, working with their family and educators, to develop a post-secondary plan: bit.ly/3sobi5P. A more personalized education is based on the interests and talents of the students. That helps increase students’ motivation to learn, as St. Paul author Ted Kolderie explains: bit.ly/3hc7lKR.
Minnesota has developed numerous opportunities for personalized learning over the past 30 years. These opportunities are found within school districts, as well as charter, private, home, and online schools. Their availability provides options for thousands of students to learn to their potential while also being a resource for traditional learning. The expansion of personalized learning will benefit our increasingly diverse student population while enhancing traditional learning for all. School leaders and policy makers must make their growth a priority.
St Paul Public Schools (spps.org/choosespps) offers many valuable options such as language immersion, Montessori, online, project-based learning, and others, with a current magnet/alternative enrollment of more than 10,000 students out of more than 34,000 inscribed.
West 7th families also have free public charter school options, including Cyber Village Academy, Nova, St. Paul School of Northern Lights, Upper Mississippi Academy, Urban Academy, and others. A map showing the cards is here: bit.ly/3BPAzca.
Fortunately, families in the West 7th area have increasing opportunities to receive a free, personalized, public education.
Joe Nathan has been an educator, parent, and president of the St Paul Public School Parent Teacher Association. He directs the Center for School Change, based in St. Paul. Questions/feedback welcome: email@example.com