Business Technology Early College High School


In partnership with
Queensborough Community College
   NYC Department of Education

    City University of New York


Early College Initiative (ECI)

Queensborough has partnered with the Department of Education (DOE) and the multinational software corporation SAP, to develop an Early College Initiative (ECI) High School in Business Technology . The school will be located in a public school building in Queens.

This is a very exciting project that promises to provide high school students interested in Business Technology with the opportunity to participate in a program that will help them successfully transition from high school to college to challenging 21st century careers. The initiative reflects President Obama’s remarks in the State of the Union Address, wherein he emphasized the importance of “connecting companies to community colleges that can help design training to fill specific student needs.”

The ECI project is supported by a number of QCC chairpersons, faculty and Academic Senators, and will be facilitated on our campus by Denise Ward, Interim Vice President for Pre-College, Continuing Education and Workforce Development. At the January meeting of the Steering Committee, the Marketing and Curriculum Planning Subcommittees gave updates on the initial work of their members: The committees planned to:

  • Develop a marketing and recruiting campaign (funded by the DOE), including print and on-line strategies to enroll 110 students for the fall 2014 launch.
  • Finalize the mission and value statements of the ECI and name of the high school.
  • Begin work on skills mapping and the scope and sequence plan by assembling job descriptions from technology companies that are applicable to careers in business technology solutions – and for which two of QCC’s existing degrees most closely prepare our students (Associate in Applied Science degree in Computer Information Systems in the Business Department and Internet Technology in the Engineering Technology Department).

Two QCC chairpersons serve on the Steering Committee, and an additional two chairs with seven QCC faculty serve on the ECI Curriculum Planning Subcommittee. Any changes to existing degree curriculum will be subject to the standard QCC Curriculum Committee approval process. All of the program’s college courses will be taught by QCC faculty.

A Brief Summary of QCC’s Planning Process to Date:

In November, Interim Vice President Denise Ward and Dr. Belle Birchfield, STEM Academy, along with Professor Leslie Francis, Business Academy attended the New York State P-TECH Leadership Council in Albany. The meeting brought DOE officials together with college faculty and administrators, and high school administrators and teachers representing the 16 proposed ECI initiatives across the state. Our QCC representatives also had a chance to meet with Hoa Tu, principal of the new partner high school. The objectives of the meeting were to establish a statewide learning community of all partnerships, to clarify NYS P-TECH Design Principles, to identify opportunities for innovation and to gather input and guidance for ongoing professional development for teachers. This meeting also provided an opportunity to better understand the structure of the entire initiative, as well as interact with other successfully launched schools, and discuss curriculum and the governance process between high schools and colleges.

The trip to Albany was the fruitful result of an initial meeting between QCC and the NYC DOE and SAP to discuss and potentially create an ECI program. The first meeting brought together Dr. Stuart Asser, STEM Academy; Dr. Jonas Falik, Business Academy; Dr. Karen Steele, Interim Vice President for Strategic Planning, Assessment and Institutional Effectiveness; Dr. Diane B. Call, President of Queensborough Community College; Denise Ward, Interim Vice President, Pre-College, Continuing Education and Workforce Development; and Alan Werner. Other attendees were: Jackie M. Suarez, Director of Corporate Social Responsibility at SAP; Katy Belot, NYC Department of Education, Director of Industry Engagement; Hoa Tu, NYC Department of Education and proposed school leader; and Cass Conrad, Adenike Huggins, and Brian Donnelly from CUNY’s office of ECI.

A number of organizational and program aspects of the proposed model were discussed—with the following points established:

  • A mission statement for the proposed ECI school will be drafted and reviewed by the Planning Committee, which will work over the next six months on the structure, curriculum, and staffing of the ECI school. Representing QCC on this Committee for the initial planning will be Denise Ward, Stu Asser and Jonas Falik.
  • QCC faculty and staff will partner with the NYC Department of Education and SAP to develop an ECI at a location in Queens. Public meetings will be held to determine a location.
  • Denise Ward will be our campus coordinator for the project.
  • The curriculum focus will be technology and business applications with guidance from our Business and Engineering Technology faculty.
  • Specialized student and instructional support services will be an integral part of the ECI school structure and program.
  • Projected launch date with a ninth grade class of approximately 100 students is for early fall 2014—with self-selection based on student interest rather than a competitive test to determine admission.
  • •QCC faculty from across disciplines will be invited to become involved with general education curriculum development.
  • SAP, as the corporate partner, will participate in mapping key skills related to career success at SAP and business/industry clients who use their systems. SAP will also help to design appropriate internship experiences for students aligned with the curriculum and careers in the industry.

As of mid-March, the Marketing Subcommittee engaged a website designer and final editing of the website is underway. The subcommittee also participated in a DOE, SAP and QCC design workshop that addressed recruiting strategies and use of various media, such as white-boarding, to use in recruiting both students and teachers. An info-graphic and postcard with a new brand logo was also developed. Six recruiting events are planned in schools and other locations around the city and one on campus.

The Curriculum Planning Subcommittee assembled several job descriptions applicable to entry level jobs in business technology. Skills mapping began with discussions of specific course electives in the two degree programs that would best satisfy workforce needs. Ensuring high school students are ready to succeed at college level work is a major topic of discussion. Pre-college programming is planned in both Reading/Writing and Math. Both the DOE Principal and QCC faculty want to ensure students are well prepared to succeed at college level coursework and do not want to rely solely on minimum Regents grades to satisfy eligibility requirements.

An initial six year Scope and Sequence report for each of the two degree programs was developed and submitted to the NYSED per grant reporting requirements. Work on these two schedules will continue to evolve as the programming is further discussed. Students will enroll in their first college core general education courses in the eleventh grade. Specific technology certifications were discussed, including those offered by SAP. A Speech/Oral Presentation course will be required of all students.

Five QCC faculty will attend a SAP University Alliance Conference in Atlanta at the end of March. The professional development conference will provide curriculum planning and technology workshops as well as opportunities to draw from other experienced college professors offering similar programs.

Unique Aspects of the Proposed Model:

Unlike some traditional schools where only high achieving students are selected for accelerated programs or honors courses, ECI students will have the opportunity to earn college credits while in high school. This expectation creates a culture that supports and encourages students who might struggle in other environments. Instead of abruptly moving from a high school environment to a college campus, ECI students begin with one college course—often in the tenth grade—and gradually increase the number of college courses over time.

In the new 9 through 14 College and Career Preparatory schools, “blue chip” employer partners identify the appropriate entry-level positions that students may qualify for upon graduation; employers then work with secondary and post-secondary partners to map the key skills needed to succeed in those positions. Employer partners will also ensure students receive mentoring from industry professionals to help provide opportunities for workplace experiences aligned with the curriculum.

History of the Early College Initiative program at The City University of New York (CUNY)

In partnership with the NYC DOE, CUNY has developed 14 Early College Initiatives, the goal of enabling a broad range of students to earn both a high school diploma and an associate degree (or up to two years of college credit)—at no cost to themselves or their families. In the last three years, several new ECI’s have joined with industry partners to form to accomplish the above with the added value of internships, mentoring and opportunities for employment with the industry partners or those similar to them.

As stated by CUNY, the proposed objectives for these latter Early College Initiative are to:

  • Blend a rigorous college-prep high school curriculum with the college level coursework required to earn an associate degree in a technology/business discipline and a carefully sequenced set of workplace experiences that prepare students to move seamlessly into high potential jobs.
  • Offer a path to a college education and a professional career that includes substantive guidance and coaching from adults through the first two critical years of college and a series of increasingly demanding workplace experiences.
  • Remove financial and other barriers to higher education thus allowing significant college-level work to be part of every student’s experience.
  • Enroll students of all abilities, levels, and backgrounds to ensure that a wide range of students have access to a high quality high school and college education.
  • Serve low income young people, first-generation college students, English language learners and students of color –all of whom are statistically underrepresented in higher education
  • Provide small, personalized learning environments with 80 to 100 students per grade and no more than 600 students per school.

Frequently asked questions

In response to questions posed by the Faculty Executive Committee (FEC), QCC members of the ECI Steering Committee (including four department chairpersons and several faculty members) met with the FEC on January 8, 2014. The following Question and Answer summary reflects the outcome of that meeting:

Q: Why isn’t this project subject to the action of the Academic Senate, the Policy making body of the College?

A: We appreciate the Senate’s interest in this early college initiative, but this is not a college policy - it is a departmental initiative. Students will be under the same requirements as any other student in the college. They will be taking one of our currently offered degrees and a small number of courses as non-matriculated students while they are in high school. We currently run several early college initiative programs including College Now, and grant programs such as Career Clusters, the 21st Century Community Learning Center and a Student Improvement Grant in collaboration with Martin Van Buren High school.The new initiative involves degree programs offered by the Business Department and the Engineering Technology Department, in cooperation with SAP and the new high school.

Q: How is the curriculum being organized and directed by academics? Who decides on the course content, the level of content and the level of preparation needed?

A: We are starting with the Business CIS (Computer Information Systems) Program and the Engineering Technology Internet Technology Program to give students a choice. Students will take the exact same courses as any other QCC student in these degree programs. Course content is defined in the course syllabus and approved by the department chair and the department faculty. All courses will be taught by QCC faculty. The instructor will teach these courses at the same level of academic rigor as all other courses.

Q: What level of involvement will the Office of Academic Affairs and members of the academic departments have in the ECI?

A: The Office of Academic Affairs oversees all Academic Departments as well as the Office of Continuing Education and Workforce Development. Academic Affairs will be actively involved in the same way that it is involved in any other program. There are currently ten (10) QCC faculty (including four Chairpersons) serving as members of the Curriculum Planning Subcommittee of the B-Tech Early College Initiative. The program will be implemented by the departments, which report to Academic Affairs. Academic Affairs will be involved just like it has been involved in the Verizon Program.

Note that this is not a 4+2 program. It is a fully integrated high school and college curriculum – meaning students will take some QCC college courses as non-matriculated students while they are completing their high school degree and will earn both high school and college credit for some of the college courses offered. Dual credit enrollment is a nationally recognized framework leading to significant success of students in college retention and graduation rates as well as in high-level grade attainment. Please see the Community College Research Council (CCRC) report, “What we know about Dual Enrollment Programs.” In the QCC collaborative initiatives cited above, in fiscal year 2014, we are offering dual credit programming to 3,846 high school students in 20% of high schools located in Queens.

Q: What is the net budget devoted to QCC's involvement with the school? Where will this money come from?

A: The funding for this initiative is coming from a SAP grant for planning purposes, from a DOE/SED grant, and from a standing agreement that CUNY has with the DOE to establish all early college schools. Although allocation of funding for the DOE and QCC is still being determined, all college tuition and associated expenses will be supported by the funding. Additional grants are being written for future funding as well.

Q: Where will the QCC Courses be taught - on campus or the high school? Will QCC faculty be teaching them? Will the faculty be observed by QCC faculty? Will they be members of the PSC and CUNY or DOE?

A: The majority of courses will be taught at QCC. We hope to bus students to QCC. However, some courses may be taught at the high school. All QCC courses will be taught by QCC faculty and faculty will be observed as with any other accredited course of the college.

Q: Is it a 4 + 2 or will students take college courses before getting their high school degree? Will students be admitted to a QCC program prior to getting their high school degree?

A: This is not a 4+2 program. As stated above, it is an integrated curriculum where students will take some college courses before they graduate high school. It will work in a way similar to College Now, Career Clusters and 21st CCLC. Students will enroll as non-matriculated students until such time as they complete their high school degree. They must meet all the required prerequisites before enrolling in QCC courses. They will be enrolled in either the CIS or Internet Technology Program.

Q: What policies will apply to the QCC Courses taught? (DOE or QCC and CUNYpolicies such as Academic Integrity, probation, dismissal, grade policy.)

A: All current QCC policies like Academic Integrity, probation, dismissal, grades, etc. will apply.

Q: Every few years the academic programs are reviewed by either the Office of Academic Affairs and or by external accreditation agencies. Who will review these programs?

A: The academic programs offered will be reviewed in many ways. They will be reviewed as part of the Academic Affairs 5 year program review process. For example, when we perform the Program Review of the Telecommunications Technology Program, we include a review of the Verizon Program (which is also Telecommunications Technology: Corporate Specific). Data is supplied separately. The B-Tech high school will be subject to review by NYSED as any other NYCDOE high school, and CUNY will be monitoring the initiative outcomes.

Q: If a student wishes to change their curriculum and opt out of this program, will their credits be transferable? Will students and their parents be fully informed?

A: If students opt out of the program while still in high school they will either have to transfer to another high school or, if they are at QCC when they request to option out, transfer to another QCC curriculum or to a different college. Courses taken would apply to the transfer in the same way they currently apply. Parents will be fully informed of the program and will need to approve their child’s enrollment into B-Tech. (Students begin in 9th grade.) We will follow all FERPA guidelines.

Q: Is this new "degree" as transferable as the other current AAS degrees (within and outside of CUNY)?

A: This is not a new degree. Students will be pursuing one of our current AAS Degree Program in CIS or in Internet Technology.

Q: If a QCC student would like to enroll in the "new" program just for the AAS related courses, would the student be allowed to enroll in the program?

A: Since these are existing courses in existing curricula at the college, any QCC student can enroll.

Q: Will QCC or the DOE approve graduates and confer the AAS degrees?

A: Graduation approval and conferral of the QCC degrees will follow the normal procedure for all QCC graduates. The NYCDOE would approve and confer the high school degrees. Please Note: In the future, there may be consideration for a new Business Technology AAS degree program. Development and approval of such a program would follow all the standing Governance procedures, and the program would be available to all QCC students.

2012 ECI outcomes reported by CUNY: 87.1% graduation rate (20% higher than the city average), with ECI graduates earning an average of 21.5 college credits prior to graduation. The retention rate of 2011 graduates who remained enrolled in college after a year was 70%. In 2011-13, 2,367 ECI students were enrolled in 8,411 college courses, with 87% receiving a C grade or better. Approximately 77% of students currently enrolled in ECI schools are either Hispanic or African American.

Time Magazine cover features a story on the Early College Initiative model.

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