The way we prepare students for the future is beginning to change because our economy is undergoing a makeover. The Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce published a report stating that by 2020, 65 percent of our economy’s jobs will require post-secondary education or training beyond high school. That means that students without these post-secondary milestones will only be applicable for 35 percent of jobs. Because of this, it is important to create programs that encourage students to pursue post-secondary education.

However, a four-year degree may not be the right path for every student.

At Pikes Peak Early College (PPEC), we don’t exclusively encourage our students to pursue a four-year college degree. Because of this, we are able to attract different types of students from various backgrounds.

Our Blended School Model

PPEC is a multi-district, early college high school, meaning students from all across Colorado can enroll. Upon enrollment, every student meets one-on-one with our college and career counselor to discuss his or her interests and plans for the future, as well as to take a placement test to determine his or her current level of college and career readiness.

The counselor then uses this information to create a personalized “degree plan” outlining which courses the student should take at PPEC. This includes high school courses needed to meet graduation requirements and to increase his or her college and career readiness skills, elective courses to match the student’s interests and future goals, and college courses or industry certification programs the student should pursue during his or her time at PPEC to reach future goals.

Most students complete their high school courses and electives online so students only physically attend school three days a week. Days in school consist of teachers leading project-based learning to complement what students are learning online, as well as helping students master the concepts they are learning in the online courses. Students spend the other two days of the week completing online courses at home, participating in internships or shadowing opportunities, or attending classes on community college campuses.

(Next page: Support for all students at PPEC; different goals)

About the Author:

Dave Knoche, the Executive Principal of Pikes Peak Early College in Peyton, Colorado, is a strong believer in the enormous benefits of flexible, relevant and individualized educational models that meet the needs of non-traditional learners. Students at Pikes Peak Early College use online course from Fuel Education.

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