Early College at Irondale High School

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Early College at Irondale High School

Launched in the 2014-2015 academic year, Irondale High School of Mounds View Public Schools became the first school in the Minnesota to offer a comprehensive early college high school program that allows students the opportunity to earn a two-year associate degree for free while still enrolled in high school.

Although many high schools around the nation offer concurrent college enrollment programs, including Irondale High School and Mounds View High School, those programs traditionally serve most effectively the highest-achieving students in the top third of their class. And through those programs, earning an associate degree by high school graduation isn’t a given.

Irondale’s new Early College program will target Irondale students who are in the middle of their class (30th to 70th percentile). These students at times have not received the preparation necessary to succeed in post-secondary programs, and they often may be the first in their family to attend college.

At the same time, the Early College program will add the courses necessary for students in Advanced Placement and College in the Schools programs to earn an associate degree. With the Early College program, post-secondary success will become the rule for all students and the opportunity to earn an associate degree will become a reality for many more students than before.

Applause for this Initiative

"This opens a whole new opportunity for students to get prepared for post-secondary success. Irondale High School is absolutely leading the way for the state." Dr. Brenda Cassellius, Commissioner Minnesota Department of Education

"This program is one of the state’s most comprehensive partnerships between a high school and our state colleges. I applaud Irondale’s Early College program and hope to see it used as a model across Minnesota." Dr. Steven Rosenstone, Chancellor Minnesota State.

"We’re not saying a traditional four-year college is for everyone. Our goal is to have our students ready for the options they will face after graduation. If they choose college, we will prepare them for precisely what they can expect." Dan Hoverman, Superintendent Mounds View Public Schools

  • Educational journeys don’t end in 12th grade. That’s why an early-start, comprehensive approach to post-secondary success is necessary for life beyond high school graduation.

    By strategically blending high school and the first two years of college, Irondale’s Early College program will provide students with the academic foundation required for success in college or other pursuits. This includes:

    Increasing the rigor and relevance of high school courses.

    Exposing students to the rigors of college work.

    Collaborating with a college partner to target expectations between high school and college.

    Reducing the need for remedial coursework in college.

    Emphasizing “Habits of Mind,” self-advocacy life skills.

    Frequent advising to keep students on track.

    A focus on post-secondary success.

    Closing the “opportunity gap” by giving students the skills they need to access opportunities beyond high school.

    Offering students the opportunity to earn an associate degree for free.

    The Early College program will intentionally align grades 9 through 14, thereby increasing the chance of all Irondale students’ success in college-level courses.

  • Working with their dean, Irondale students develop an academic plan that includes options for taking classes that allow them to earn college credits. 

    For students in the academic middle, the Early College program will provide the necessary foundation and support to benefit from college credit-earning opportunities. Students who do not meet college-readiness indicators from standardized assessments may be identified for additional foundation classes and college seminar courses to help prepare them for the rigor of college courses. This will provide them with the skills they need for success beyond high school in whatever post-high school career path they choose, including two-year colleges, four-year colleges, and/or certificate programs, internships or military.

    Students who currently benefit from Honors, Advanced, College in the Schools, Advanced Placement(AP) and Concurrent

    Enrollment classes typically rank in the top third of their class. These students will continue to have those rigorous opportunities and will have the additional option of choosing to take specific college credit-earning courses that would meet requirements of the Minnesota Transfer Curriculum (MnTC) and/or an associate degree.

  • Where

    Students will take Early College courses at Irondale during the regular school day from credentialed Irondale teachers who have partnered with an Anoka-Ramsey Community College faculty mentor. There will be occasional opportunities for students to visit the Anoka-Ramsey Community College campus to participate in Early College campus activities.

  • The syllabus for each course will be jointly developed by the Irondale classroom teacher/s and the collaborating teacher from Anoka-Ramsey Community College. Individual student schedules will be designed by students and parents in cooperation with their high school deans. Students who want to complete an associate degree while at Irondale should develop a four-year plan with their dean and register for the necessary coursework identified in the course registration handbook. Example four-year plans that show course pathways to an associate of arts degree can be found online at www.moundsviewschools.org/irondale or by contacting a high school dean.

  • College credit-earning courses identified by Irondale and Anoka Ramsey have been specifically chosen to allow students the opportunity to meet the general education requirements of the Minnesota Transfer Curriculum (MnTC) and/or the Associate of Arts degree. Students who complete the Minnesota Transfer Curriculum through Anoka-Ramsey (with a cumulative GPA of 2.0) have completed the general education requirements at many Minnesota colleges and universities. To earn college credit in a dual enrollment course, students must earn at least a C average on the Anoka-Ramsey grading scale and demonstrate proficiency in all essential outcomes.

  • Agreements have been made with the following colleges/universities for students who complete the Minnesota Transfer Curriculum and/or the Associate of Arts degree at Anoka-Ramsey and meet the individual college’s entrance requirements:

    The Minnesota State system, with 31 two-year and four-year public colleges and universities. There are 54 MnSCU campuses in 47 communities throughout the state of Minnesota.

    The University of Minnesota system, with campuses in the Twin Cities, Crookston, Duluth, Morris and Rochester.


  • Using money received from its partnership with the North Suburban Integration School District and from a compensatory revenue fund, Mounds View Public Schools will pay about $65,000 annually for this collaboration with Anoka-Ramsey Community College. Irondale students pay no tuition for college credits or courses.

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