Anne Arundel Academies Facilitates Transition into High School and College
The Academy of Teaching is part of the Anne Arundel Academies, Inc., a 501(c)3 organization. Participating high school students are generally in the tenth or eleventh grade. The program is offered at nine of the county’s twelve comprehensive high schools. At the postsecondary level, students age 18 to 60+ (mostly 20–24) select one of seven associate of arts in teaching (AAT) majors.
As the fifth largest school system in Maryland and the 41st largest school system in the nation, Anne Arundel County Public Schools (AACPS) serves a diverse population of students that spans urban, suburban, and rural portions of the county.
To help alleviate teacher shortages, AACPS committed to a “grow your own” strategy and developed the Academy of Teaching in collaboration with Anne Arundel Community College (AACC). The Academy of Teaching is an “academic completer” program. High school coursework is aligned and sequenced with AACC’s teacher education program. A bridge math course was created to help reduce the need for developmental math.
To facilitate high school transition, the project developed an instructional and student services work team representing both secondary and postsecondary faculty and staff. The Academy of Teaching was created to allow students to move seamlessly into any of seven AAT programs at the community college—early childhood, elementary/general special education, chemistry, English, math, physics, and Spanish. About 50 percent of completers of the secondary program enroll in AAT programs at the college. Through Jump Start, a concurrent college enrollment program, high school students 16 and older are able to take college courses at a 50 percent tuition reduction. For students who seek baccalaureate degrees, the AATs are fully transferable into any Maryland public or private college or university.
The Academy of Teaching includes a strong work-based learning (WBL) component. All students complete three fifteen-hour fieldwork experiences. For example, one group of Academy of Teaching students, under the direction and supervision of their teacher, recently planned, prepared, and taught physics lessons to fifth graders. Such fieldwork experiences include assignments with guided activities that relate the experiences back to students’ coursework and tie into professional teaching standards.
The Academy of Teaching has been expanded into nine of the twelve county high schools with an average of 40 participants per school. The number of AAT degrees has expanded from one to seven and the number of certificates from zero to eight. Enrollments have increased significantly and the graduation rate for AAT students has doubled over the past five years. The number of graduates of the AAT programs has increased 230 percent since 2003.
Support from college and county school leadership, along with communication strategies that reach all constituency groups, is essential in partnerships and collaboration. Large educational systems are complicated and at times difficult to negotiate. Identifying a “point person” helps keep the work on target. Having strong internal and external “champions” helps to facilitate the process. Career pathways are a powerful advising tool. Creating and implementing strategies that disseminate them is important.