Monday, February 28th, 2011

Officials from the North Carolina New Schools Project and representatives from high schools in North Carolina recently were welcomed at the Caldwell Early College High School during its first residency visit as a model school through the Learning Laboratory Initiative, an effort funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to accelerate the development of innovative high schools that can demonstrate rigorous, highly effective instruction and deep student engagement to educators, university faculty and policymakers.

The Caldwell Early College High School (CECHS) is one of four innovative high schools in North Carolina to receive significant support to showcase teaching and learning that ensures all students graduate ready for college, careers and life. 

"While we are proud of our students and of our program, we are humbled by the process of serving as a NC New Schools Project Learning Lab," said CECHS Principal Candis Hagaman.  "We have experienced great success in many areas, but we are always learning and growing, reflecting and improving and hope that our visitors are inspired by the passion we have for our school and our work." 

The Caldwell County Board of Education approved a partnership in 2009 with North Carolina New Schools Project (NCNSP) and the University of North Carolina system to transform the Caldwell Early College High School into a national model of performance and to begin to host visits to the schools by practitioners and others beginning in 2011. 

Superintendent Dr. Steve Stone said he welcomed the opportunity to help strengthen innovative high school practices at the Early College and across the state. "We are glad to partner with the New Schools Project and UNC to provide knowledge and inspiration to educators across the state," Stone said.  "Caldwell Early College High School is demonstrating every day what happens when we expect the most from all students and create a school that's designed purposefully to help them reach those high expectations."

The first Learning Lab Initiative (LLI) Residency Visit held at the Caldwell Early College High School in February was comprised of North Carolina News Schools Project staff, LLI Instructional Liaisons, and the principal and teacher leaders from Hillside New Tech High School in Durham, another LLI Model School.

Dr. John Parker, Co-Director of Learning Laboratory Initiative - NC New Schools Project, presented an update to the Board of Education during its February Board of Education meeting and addressed the first residency visit at the Caldwell Early College High School. "I assure you folks that you've got a national model sitting right here in Caldwell County," said Dr. Parker to Board members during the presentation. "Caldwell Early College is one of the best you will find in our country."

Caldwell Early College High School opened its doors in 2006 as one of the first early college high schools located on a community college campus. Today, it is one of 60 early college high schools located on the campuses of two- and four-year colleges and universities across North Carolina.  Students enrolled in the Caldwell Early College High School earn a high school diploma and two years of transferable college credit or an associate degree at the end of five years.

NC New Schools Project Learning Lab
The four Learning Lab sites in North Carolina were picked from among 21 schools through a process that involved proposals by each, analysis of the schools' student performance and teacher perceptions, and site visits to the finalists.  The selection process involved a panel of high school innovation experts from outside North Carolina.


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