Baltimore’s Bard College High School recently opened in response to Maryland’s SB 740, legislation mandating that public high schools offer college-level work for its students. On August 31, 2015, Bard College High School became the first high school in Baltimore, Maryland, to give students the opportunity to complete high school in the first two years and earn a tuition-free associate’s degree during the remaining two years. A collaborative venture with Bard College, a private liberal arts college in upstate New York, this program is part of the national Bard network piloting in cities such as, Newark, New Jersey; New York City; New Orleans, Louisiana; and Cleveland, Ohio. Upon graduation, students will earn a high school diploma, an associate of arts degree, as well as sixty credits transferable to Bard College. As a “contract school,” Bard can have as much as fifty percent of its student body be first-generation college students. Thus far, the selective high school has attracted students who are intellectually curious and self-motivated, as well as faculty who are eager to teach in an innovative, challenging learning community. Other Maryland initiatives fulfilling the mandate to offer college credits for middle and high school students include the University of Maryland College Park Academy and the Prince Georges Community College Academy of Health Sciences.
If successful, the Bard College High School and other college readiness initiatives can serve as models for preparing students from diverse socio-economic backgrounds and academic levels for the rigor of college studies. This early preparation for college should help eliminate the need for two-and four-year colleges to engage in remedial and developmental instruction in English.