Idaho Falls School District 91 high school students can begin taking classes to earn a year's worth of college credits during high school.
The District 91 Jumpstart College Program will allow high school juniors with at least a 3.0 GPA to begin taking general college courses through the College of Eastern Idaho. The district's default program for its students involves them earning 36 classes over a year and a half; they'll take six classes in the winter, spring and summer quarters of their junior year and nine classes each semester of their senior year.
"Having CEI so close to us, it just makes sense to offer students these classes locally," D91 assistant superintendent Sarah Sanders said.
The classes being offered to the high school students all fall under the GEM program, the general education classes that qualify for entry-level credit at any state college in Idaho. Courses that will be available for the District 91 students include basic English and communications, sociology, and a variety of science classes.
Students can use their Fast Forward money — the $4,125 allocated to every Idaho student in grades 7 through 12 through the Advanced Opportunities program — to pay for the credits, which the district says will save families thousands.
District 91 already offers some programs to help students prepare for college, such as AP classes and dual enrollment classes at CEI and other colleges in the region. The Jumpstart Program offers a more structured approach and more stable set of credits available for students than some of the other college preparation programs.
The program also allows students to work together in cohorts with the other students who registered for classes around the same time. Even if the students are taking different classes at CEI, the district hopes students will be able to help each other cope with the stress of taking classes that count for both high school and college credit.
"Anytime you put a cohort group of students together, it helps those who are going through that process organize their work and have an easier time," Sanders said.
District 91 students can begin applying to the program during registration for next year's classes in January and begin taking Jumpstart college courses next fall. Information on the Jumpstart Program will be posted on the district's website at ifschools.org.