Middle college program earns national recognition

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Courtesy Grand Rapids Community College

A local community college recently earned national accreditation for its middle college program and was one of the first in the U.S. to be recognized for using its own faculty.

Grand Rapids Community College (GRCC) earned accreditation from the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships’ (NACEP) accreditation commission. The commission granted accreditation to 25 concurrent enrollment programs nationwide, bringing the total of NACEP accredited programs in the country to 134. 

“Middle college programs are one way that GRCC is providing access to higher education while removing cost as a barrier as a result of school district partnerships,” said Dan Clark, dean of academic outreach at the GRCC lakeshore campus. “We’re proud to earn recognition for the program, but even prouder to support our students and communities and see the difference middle college can make in a person’s life.”

NACEP’s standards serve as model criteria for ensuring consistency in faculty, course content, student outcomes and support. NACEP is the nation’s only accrediting body for educational partnerships between schools and higher education. 

Receiving NACEP accreditation means an institution has met the national standard in concurrent enrollment program development, management and evaluation across multiple program areas. 

NACEP membership added a new set of standards for a College Provided Faculty (CPF) endorsement in 2019. This model is defined as college courses taught to high school students by college faculty, regardless of location or delivery method. 

Grand Rapids Community College is one of three colleges nationwide to be awarded CPF accreditation, alongside Snow College in Ephraim, Utah, and Idaho State University. 

“On behalf of the accreditation commission, I want to congratulate all of the newly accredited and re-accredited programs,” Accreditation Commission Chair Michael Beam said. “These programs have successfully demonstrated they meet the NACEP standards for high-quality programming for concurrent enrollment and college-provided faculty models.”

GRCC partners with high schools in Wyoming, Cedar Springs, Kentwood and Kenowa Hills, as well as Ottawa Hills High School and the Kent Intermediate School District through the Launch U program, which offers higher education to students at a reduced cost. 

Students in GRCC’s concurrent education programs take tuition-free GRCC classes while in high school. They attend for a 13th year and graduate with a diploma and up to 60 transferable credits for an associate degree or technical certificate.

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