School district forges partnership with Oregon Tech in Wilsonville

by: SPOKESMAN FILE PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Students from West Linn-Wilsonville schools will have the opportunity, starting this spring, to attend classes at the Oregon Tech campus in Wilsonville.Students who think they’ve seen everything their school has to offer might want to think again.

The West Linn-Wilsonville School District has formed a new partnership with Oregon Institute of Technology, and high school students stand to benefit from the advanced courses and sophisticated resources Oregon Tech is ready to offer them.

Starting this spring, WL-WV students — mostly high-schoolers, but some advanced middle school students may apply — will be able to take courses at Oregon Tech’s Wilsonville Campus.

The first course offerings will be two “bundles” focused on science and technology, starting with introduction to engineering and health sciences. Students who enroll will earn dual credit, meaning that the course will appear on both their high school and college transcripts.

Although the courses will be available to WL-WV students next quarter, all the details of the arrangements haven’t been worked out yet, according to WL-WV Deputy Superintendent Jane Stickney and Nell Achtmeyer, a science educator and the district’s capital bond sustainability coordinator.

“Oregon Tech is trying to craft something that works for West Linn and Wilsonville families,” Stickney said. “Part of this is listening to the families. ... They want to meet the need.”

Interested students and their parents are invited to attend an informational open house at Oregon Tech in Wilsonville on Jan. 27 from 3 to 5 p.m. The campus is located at 27500 SW Parkway Avenue.

“They’re trying to judge, at the open house, how many kids would be interested,” Stickney said. “Summer, I expect more kids will be interested.”

The cost of the program is yet to be determined, although Stickney and Achtmeyer said students likely would pay about $25 per credit at Oregon Tech. That cost would change if the program evolves to include online modules or accredited classes offered at the high schools.

The cost to the school district is minimal and includes only staff hours invested in developing the program and maintaining it going forward.

If the program sounds familiar, that’s because it is. The district currently partners with Clackamas Community College in a program called Advanced College Credit that allows high school students to earn college credit for certain high school courses.

“The precedent has been set and established with the work with Clackamas Community College,” Achtmeyer said.

by: SPOKESMAN FILE PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Oregon Tech offers sophisticated resources, like this optics lab, that WL-WV students will gain access to under the school district's new partnership.One important difference is that, for now, WL-WV students will attend class at the Oregon Tech campus, although the program may evolve to allow students to earn college credit for certain high school courses too. Students may also find that other colleges and universities are more likely to accept the credits that they earn at Oregon Tech than credits earned through CCC.

“Transferability (of credits) is up to the accepting institution,” Stickney said. “In any case, it strengthens a child’s resume for college.”

Working with counselors at the district’s three high schools, teachers and administrators already are targeting students who might be interested in attending the open house and taking the Oregon Tech courses. An invitation is not required, however.

Students must be enrolled in a West Linn-Wilsonville school, and they may have to meet or test out of certain prerequisites before they can enroll in an Oregon Tech course. For example, a student wishing to take the introduction to engineering course would need to have taken advanced algebra at high school or be able to pass a placement test in math.

“A lot of freshman will have that completed,” Stickney said.

Taking college-level courses in high school offers many benefits. WL-WV students will pay a reduced fee per credit at Oregon Tech, and the college credits they earn while in high school can shorten the time and money they eventually will spend in college. The biggest benefit, though, may be the way they start to think about their academic potential.

“It gives them a future view of themselves, on a basic level,” Stickney said. “For children, it’s the understanding that ‘I can do college work; I’ve already done it.’ That’s one of our big values for kids: ‘I’m not worried about college; I’ve already done it.’ ... It helps to see yourself in the place you’re going to.”

Lita Colligan, associate vice president at Oregon Tech, said that the dual credit model is a proven approach to promote student success in both high school and college.

“Oregon Tech is convening the South Metro-Salem STEM Partnership, which is working with West Linn-Wilsonville and 14 other school districts to increase the access, excitement and engagement of students in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math),” Colligan said. “The South-Metro Salem STEM Partnership is also hosting a STEM teacher learning community and reaching out to business and community partners to help our schools provide more hands-on STEM learning experience for students in and outside the classroom.”

At the Jan. 27 open house, WL-WV students and their families will receive an overview of the partnership and attend breakout sessions designed for teachers, counselors and administrators and for students and parents. The open house will end with a campus tour.

Interested students from middle and high schools in the WL-WV School District are encouraged to contact Achtmeyer for more information. Email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Kate Hoots can be reached at 503-636-1281, ext. 112 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Follow her on Twitter: @CommuniKater.

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