One year ago, Mandy LaCerte resigned her position at Baton Rouge Community College to establish an Early College Program and implement advanced course opportunities with Superintendent Dr. Lonnie Luce at Louisiana’s statewide public online charter school University View Academy.

University View Academy is the top academic performing K-12 online charter where all instruction is provided, over the computer, to Louisiana students in any parish by certified Louisiana teachers.

UView’s goal was simple: Start a program which allows eligible students to graduate with a high school diploma andan Associate’s degree from a Louisiana community college, or two years towards a Bachelor’s degree at a Louisiana University, at no cost to the student.

Mandy believed in that concept, and in just under one year, her hard work is paying off. More than seventy 9th and 10th graders started the program in the fall, and already the school has a list of rising 9th and 10th grade students applying for the 2018-2019 school year.

Out of the approximately 400 course enrollments last semester at UView through the Early College program or Dual Enrollment for college credit, 99 percent of UView students passed the course with 97 percent able to apply the credits earned towards a college degree.

In recognition of the groundbreaking program, the Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools awarded University View Academy an Excellence Award for Innovative Education in December. One impressive statistic under Ms. LaCerte’s leadership: Dual Enrollment registrations at University View Academy increased more than 600 percent compared to the last academic year at the school, reflecting the quality improvement in the school’s offerings.

“Every student in Louisiana should have access to a real dual enrollment or early college experience. Because we are an online school, we can make that happen, no matter where that child lives,” said Ms. LaCerte. “University View allows every student to be served.”

Early College Program Director LaCerte is speaking to any group that will listen about University View Academy’s dual enrollment and Early College tracks for their 8-12 grade students. She emphasizes that she is looking for students with “GRIT”, that is guts, resilience, initiative, and tenacity.

“Early College is not a program for every student,” she said, noting that the course work is rigorous and requires a drive to succeed. “As long as the student possesses a strong work ethic, I am excited to work with them. This program is the person who welcomes a challenge.”

The UView Early College Program allows the student to earn the Associate’s or two-years towards a Bachelor’s at a Louisiana college for free, without having to draw on their TOPS allotment, thus saving them money for future advanced study after graduation.

Here are the basics of the Early College program:

  • A qualifying student enters 9th or 10th grade at University View Academy;
  • The student enrolls in courses that earn a tuition-free degree transferable to a public Louisiana four-year university—or complete an Associate’s Degree from a Louisiana community college—with their high school diploma;
  • Each enrolled University View student in the Early College program is assigned a college and career counselor to help guide the student’s interests;
  • The program is applicable to TOPS Tech JumpStart Diplomas, a career-track program for students interested in high-skills trades;
  • An Early College graduate earns a minimum of 24 Carnegie Units and 60 college hours;
  • Early College 11th and 12th graders are eligible to take courses at the college campus.

University View Academy supplies each enrolled student at its K-12 school a Mac Airbook laptop computer and Internet subsidy. The Early College program also picks up all student textbook and other fees at the applicable college or community college once approved by the program director.

“It’s the only program of its kind in Louisiana,” said Dr. Luce. “And it is open to any student in any parish of our state, thus improving the educational options of all, whether they live in a city or a remote rural area.”

Dr. Luce encouraged all middle school students to enroll now for the coming school year and start working towards applying to the Early College program by taking high school courses while in middle school.

One impressive statistic from the students enrolled in the Early College Program is the high ACT scores earned from the first test administration, said Ms. LaCerte. Ninth graders Hunter Gravois and Stephanie Carter have ACT scores exceeding 30 and are moving ahead in their Early College studies by customizing their post-secondary plans. 

If you’d like to learn more or enroll in the school’s Early College program, click here.

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