Many students do not attain a college degree simply because they run out of grant funds (Pell and TAP) before they earn enough credits to graduate. We have sought to address this problem by enabling students to earn college credits while still in high school, regardless of their achievement level.
Together with the Carnegie Corporation of New York, we initiated a strategic partnership to enable New York City high school students to obtain free college credit by funding a project with ModernStates.org that broadens the appeal of College Level Examination Program (CLEP) courses and exams offered by the College Board. Modern States, created by entrepreneur and education philanthropist Steven Klinsky, developed over 30 high-quality freshman college courses taught online by some of the world’s leading universities and professors. Each course includes online lectures, quizzes, tests, and other features. Textbooks and materials are also provided online, free of charge. Modern States students have been passing CLEP exams at a rate of 73%, ten percent above the national average.
Our new initiative, NYC x Freshman Year for Free, includes a dedicated portal on the Modern States site in which select courses are enhanced by free online tutoring and mentoring offered by trained, certified high school teachers. Tutoring is provided via weekly Zoom sessions in each core, first-semester freshman year subject, including Spanish, American History 1, Analyzing and Interpreting Literature, Biology, Sociology, Psychology, College Algebra, and Pre-Calculus or Calculus. All tutoring sessions are recorded and archived for use by any student, anytime. Teachers are also available for one-on-one tutoring during online weekly “office hours” and, in their role as mentors, teachers communicate with students weekly to ensure that they are progressing in their coursework. As an added incentive, students are offered a stipend of $150 for completing each course and passing the corresponding exam. Participating students may take five courses from July through December, earning as much as a full semester’s worth of free college credit toward a degree.