Accelerated learning serves as a promising tool to provide students the opportunity to move through secondary and postsecondary education at a pace that meets their academic needs. This second webinar in our accelerated learning series will present recent research findings from a rigorous study of Early College High Schools, followed by a discussion of implications for practitioners. Early College High Schools provide students with access to college-preparatory high school courses and credit-bearing college courses in a supportive learning environment.
During this webinar, we will hear from Andrea Berger, Principal Researcher at the American Institutes for Research and the principal investigator for the evaluation of the Early College High School Initiative; Joel Vargas, Vice President at Jobs for the Future (JFF) and leader of JFF’s High School through College team; Dr. Julie Penley from El Paso Community College in Texas; and Mike Sinclair from Brashier Middle Early College in South Carolina. The event will be moderated by Helen Duffy, Deputy Director of the College and Career Readiness and Success Center.
Andrea Berger, Principal Researcher at the American Institutes for Research, Principal Investigator, evaluation of the Early College High School Initiative
Helen Duffy, Deputy Director of the College and Career Readiness and Success Center (moderator)
Dr. Julie Penley, Dean of Instructional Programs & Campus Dean at El Paso Community College
Mike Sinclair, Principal, Brashier Middle Early College, South Carolina
Joel Vargas, Vice President at Jobs for the Future (JFF), leader of JFF’s High School through College team
Since 2002, Andrea Berger has served as the project director for the national evaluation of the Early College High School Initiative for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The evaluation takes advantage of the lottery-based admissions used at many Early College Schools to determine the impact of winning admission to these schools on student outcomes, particularly high school graduation and college enrollment rates.
Dr. Berger is also the project director of two NSF-sponsored projects. The first is an evaluation of NSF’s Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP) in social, behavioral and economic sciences fields, a program that supports underrepresented minority students pursuing doctoral degrees. The second is an evaluation of the Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography Minority Program, a program that supports minority students interested in the aquatic sciences. She was also the project director of the evaluation of the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE), conducted for the U.S. Department of Education.
Helen Duffy is a senior research analyst at AIR with extensive experience providing technical assistance and designing and preparing large-scale evaluations in the areas of high school and district reform, writing instruction, and teacher education. In addition to her work as a technical assistance liaison for the National High School Center, she leads the Center’s work on College and Career Readiness and serves as content expert in adolescent literacy and high school tiered intervention. She also provides technical assistance for writing instruction for the Teaching Excellence in Adult Literacy (TEAL) Project and directs the documentation of the Fresno-Long Beach Learning Partnership, a project of the California Collaborative on District Reform.
Dr. Duffy has nearly 20 years of experience in K-12 settings as a teacher, school coach, and teacher educator in urban schools and brings her knowledge of those complex settings to her technical assistance and research. She is author or co-author of a number of publications, including briefs for National High School Center, briefs focusing on instruction in Early College High Schools and on district practices that support systemic reform. She is co-author of a chapter in the forthcoming book: High Schools for a Complex World.
Dr. Julie Penley began at EPCC in 2000 as an adjunct faculty member in the Psychology Discipline. She began teaching full-time for the College in 2002, and has taught both face-to-face and online courses for traditional, dual credit, and Early College High School students. She joined the Administrative Team as Dean of Instructional Programs and Campus Dean of the Mission Del Paso Campus in 2011. She also serves as the Administrative Liaison for EPCC’s Mission and Cotton Valley Early College High Schools.
Dr. Penley has a BA in Psychology, and a MA and PhD Experimental Psychology from the University of Texas at El Paso. She also has a MA in Higher Education Administration from New Mexico State University.
Dr. Penley’s graduate work in psychology focused on stress and coping in both student and clinical samples. She has presented some of that work at various regional, national, and international conferences, and published in several peer-reviewed journals. She has also presented and published a variety of research focusing on undergraduate education, including dual credit trends at EPCC and syllabus tone as it relates to student success.
Mike Sinclair has served students through education for 18 years. After years as a high school classroom teacher and a middle school Instructional Coach, Mr. Sinclair entered administration in 2002. He served for four years as a Title I Principal in Greenville, SC, before being chosen to open Brashier Middle College Charter High School in 2006. Brashier Middle College continues to be a leader as a charter school and as a Middle College throughout the state and nation with one of the state’s highest graduation rates. Mr. Sinclair has served as the Chairman of the Palmetto Charter Network and the Public Charter School Alliance of South Carolina. He was chosen as the PCSASC Principal of the Year for 2012 and most recently as a Milken Educator in 2013.
As vice president, Joel Vargas leads the work of JFF’s High School through College team and helps to set the organization’s priorities and direction. He also researches and advises on state policies to promote improved high school and postsecondary success for underserved students. He has helped policymakers and intermediary organizations develop state and federal policies that expand early college schools and other school designs incorporating college coursework into high school.
Since joining JFF in 2002, Dr. Vargas has designed and implemented a research and state policy agenda for implementing early college designs; created policy frameworks, tools, and model legislation; written and edited white papers, research, and national publications; provided technical assistance to state task forces and policy working groups; served on a number of national advisory groups; and organized and presented at national policy conferences.
Dr. Vargas has directed, initiated, and studied a variety of middle school and high school programs designed to help more underrepresented students get into and through a postsecondary education. He also has been a teacher, editor, and research assistant for the Civil Rights Project at Harvard University. He is coeditor of two JFF books: Double the Numbers: Increasing Postsecondary Credentials for Underrepresented Youth (Harvard Education Press) and Minding the Gap: Why Integrating High School with College Makes Sense and How to Do It (Harvard Education Press).
In 2005, Dr. Vargas was featured in the Chronicle of Higher Education as one of “Higher Education’s Next Generation of Thinkers.” He received a B.S. in journalism from Boston University and an Ed.D. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Principal Research Analyst
2800 Campus Drive, Suite 200
San Mateo, CA 94403
Senior Research Analysis
2800 Campus Drive, Suite 200
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Dr. Julie Penley
Dean of Instructional Programs and Campus Dean
Coordinator, EPCC Leadership Academy
Mission del Paso Campus, PO Box 20500
El Paso, TX 79998-0500
88 Broad St., 8th Floor
Boston, MA 02110