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College Now:
Students from Ten Juvenile Justice Facilities Take College Seminar Together, Accessing Live, Virtual Classroom

I loved seeing the excitement on the girls’ faces as they signed on to their first college course.  During the second class, it was great hearing their discussions about the content and how it applied to real-world situations.  This is such a great opportunity for our students who often feel like their pasts prevent them from moving forward.
    - Jessica Williams,
       Site Coordinator at Central Pasco Girls Academy, Florida

On March 1st, 26 students (in class sections of 10 and 16 students) from juvenile justice facilities around the country participated in a live, online virtual college class. This groundbreaking class included students from ten facilities located in Massachusetts, Kentucky, Arizona, Florida, and Utah.

Students logged into the class via computer, were able to see their instructor, and interacted with their teacher and fellow students via audio and chat.  Students participated in the class discussion and had the chance to ask questions by posting comments available to the entire class, or virtually raising their hand and asking questions out loud, for all of the students to hear.  It is our belief that this is the first time that students held in confinement have been able to take a college level course with peers from across the country, interacting and communicating with each other and the instructor live.

This Introduction to Psychology class is offered through our College Now program and is intended to look and feel just like any other small college seminar. Through this class--and those that follow--students will be able to access the world beyond the walls and barbed wire fences that confine them, participate in a college level seminar, and take a first step toward realizing their dreams of attending college. The Introduction to Psychology class takes place twice a week, virtually.  In addition, the instructor is available to answer student questions posted using the virtual platform during ‘office hours’ throughout the week.  

Each site participating in College Now has a site coordinator who supports students in the courses--facilitating access to course materials at off hours, offering tutoring, and troubleshooting problems that arise. Going forward, site coordinators will also offer financial aid, host college fairs, and help enroll students in colleges as they transition out of secure care facilities and into college.

Through our College Now Program, students have the opportunity to earn transferrable college credits by participating in online classes, and then taking and passing CLEP tests. The College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) is administered by the College Board and is a credit-by-examination program.  Students who earn a passing score on a CLEP test can earn college credits at hundreds of colleges and universities across the country.  We anticipate running compressed courses, preparing student to complete classes and earn college credits in eight week cycles.  We are piloting College Now through a partnership with The College Board. There is no cost to sites to participate in the program, or for students to take the CLEP tests.

At CEEAS we remain steadfast in our commitment to transforming educational programming inside of juvenile justice agencies nationwide. We congratulate and salute agency leadership and site level staff who have worked with us to launch College Now, breaking down a long-standing barrier that has prevented students from taking college courses and from learning and growing with their peers.

If you are interested in learning more about College Now, and would like to stay abreast of this project specifically, feel free to reach out to Christina Campbell.

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