McFarland Unified School District and Bakersfield College were invited to present at sixth annual California Coalition of Early and Middle Colleges Dual Enrollment Summit Sept. 19-20 in Riverside.

Back in February, MUSD and BC announced a partnership to offer an Early College program to all students in the district, the first nearly 300 of whom are currently McFarland High School freshmen. While many other schools offer dual-enrollment college classes, most are for Advanced Placement students only.

MUSD Superintendent Aaron Resendez said with the support of both high school and BC staff, all students will take dual-enrollment courses.

Other high school students in BC Dual Enrollment performed at 90 percent or better success rate. The Early College Program expands on that concept by having freshmen complete a package of college courses throughout their four years, so that they earn a college certificate or associate’s degree by the time they graduate with their high school diploma.

BC’s Early College program gives students a clear, guided pathway, BC officials say. For students in rural communities who struggle with transportation to the college, the program opens doors to education and facilitates student success in an unprecedented way.

The McFarland Early College program will offer nine different pathways:

  • Associates Degree for Transfer Pathway (60 units)
  • General Education Certificates Pathway (30 units)
  • Agriculture Business Pathway (12 units)
  • Photography Pathway (12 units)
  • Computer Studies (IT) Pathway (12 units)
  • Business Pathway (12 units)
  • Education Pathway (12 units)
  • Welding Pathway (12 units)
  • Individual Drawing Pathway (12 units)

Students will take their first BC college course, Career and Life Planning, during freshmen year to explore which Early College Pathway is best for them and to create a personalized 10-year plan for their educational, career and life goals.

Last week, BC and MUSD officials presented during the conference's opening session and at various breakout sessions. The conference's mission is to establish and document best practices that develop and sustain supportive environments to strengthen K-12 and college partnerships, enabling high school students to transition successfully to post secondary institutions, college and career ready, with substantial college units earned through dual-enrollment.

The idea of Early College isn’t new, but such courses exist in specialized charter schools and/or are reserved for only the highest achieving students.

The McFarland High School program was designed by a collaborative team from MUSD and BC, led by McFarland High School Principal Brian Bell, who worked to adapt the key elements of a comprehensive high school, to those of the community college system, to serve all students, Resendez said.

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