CCAC and Northgate School District offer free classes through the College in High School program

Article by: CCAC Public Relations


NG School DistrictPITTSBURGH-What began as a partnership between the Community College of Allegheny County and the Northgate School District to offer some Northgate students the chance to earn a certificate or associate degree through the College in High School Program (CIHS) has now been expanded to enable all Northgate students to participate in college-level coursework while in high school.

The program is unique in that Northgate not only expects all students to enroll in CIHS-level courses, but in that Northgate has also made some of these courses graduation requirements for students. Through a recent grant awarded to the Northgate School District, the Grable Foundation has committed to funding the cost of these courses through 2022. This will enable students to have up to 16 college credits fully paid for by the time they graduate from Northgate High School.

According to Shaun Tomaszewski, Northgate's director of Curriculum and Assessment, "Because students complete their credited coursework in our high school's classrooms, they don't need to travel to a CCAC campus like they do in some districts' dual enrollment programs. Allowing kids to earn college credits as part of their normal school day was really important to us."

Northgate High School faculty have worked with CCAC North Campus faculty over the past couple of years to align course outcomes. For example, when Northgate science teachers met with their CCAC counterparts, they recognized that the biology course taken by sophomores at Northgate High School shared some of the learning outcomes of the introductory-level biology course offered by CCAC. Similarly, the Advanced Placement Biology course taken by Northgate students mapped closely with the General Biology 1 and 2 courses taught at CCAC.

"Looking for and taking advantage of these points of overlap between our courses enabled us to design an elegant solution that streamlines the enrollment procedures for the students we now share," said Associate Vice President and Dean of Students for CCAC's North Campus and West Hills Center Dr. Mary Lou Kennedy.

"We've also been really impressed by the leadership exhibited by Northgate School District's School Board members. They recently took the unprecedented step of requiring students to take college-level courses in order to graduate. This elevates the expectations for all students in the district and will afford all students the opportunity to achieve levels of success they might not have known they could," said CCAC North Campus Dean of Academic Affairs Dr. Jeffery Thomas.

Beginning in the 2019-2020 academic year, the district will receive roughly a total of $150,000 to fully fund the registration and tuition costs for the following courses required for graduation from Northgate High School:

  • College in High School Biology, four college credits
  • College in High School Computer Science Principles, three college credits
  • College in High School Human Geography, three college credits
  • College in High School Business Communications, three college credits
  • College in High School Government, three college credits


Outside of these graduation requirements, Northgate students are encouraged to take additional CIHS courses as well.

"We see College in High School coursework as being accessible by all of our students," said Caroline Johns, superintendent of Northgate School District. "When we shifted our kids' expectations so that CIHS courses became the norm in terms of the level of courses that they take, we saw something really incredible. We used to have a pretty substantial racial disparity in terms of who took what used to be called 'honors-level' courses in the middle school and high school. Once we re-titled our courses as CIHS and encouraged everyone to enroll in these more rigorous classes, we saw that disparity melt away. We're really excited about this outcome."

The Grable Foundation funding will continue through 2022 and will allow hundreds of Northgate students, many of whom will be the first in their families to earn college credits, to enter adulthood with a sense of accomplishment and success that is truly unique.

Northgate senior Maya Atkins has taken advantage of CIHS and AP-level courses during her time in high school. She'll graduate with nine college credits, but she encourages younger students to take advantage of as many CIHS courses as possible. "I would advise kids to take advantage of all these opportunities because it will really help. Your future self will thank you," said Atkins.

"We're excited about what this partnership will grow to mean for disadvantaged students who might not have ever considered the possibility of earning college-level credits. Northgate is really leading the region in showing other districts how powerful partnerships with community colleges can be," said CCAC North Campus and West Hills Center President Dr. Gretchen Mullin-Sawicki. "The research clearly indicates that, regardless of what career path you choose to pursue, having college-level credits under your belt prepares you for success that just isn't possible otherwise. CCAC has always provided opportunities for students to realize their academic goals, and we couldn't be happier to partner with Northgate to extend these opportunities to a new group of students."

For more information, contact Shaun Tomaszewski, director of Curriculum and Assessment for Northgate School District, at


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