Perham schools raise standards

This coming fall, the High School will be adding ten more college courses and one AP (Advanced Placement) course to their coursework opportunities. Four years ago, Perham High School offered 25 college credits to students and had no AP classes. N...

This coming fall, the High School will be adding ten more college courses and one AP (Advanced Placement) course to their coursework opportunities.

Four years ago, Perham High School offered 25 college credits to students and had no AP classes.

Now, with the additional credit and course offerings, Perham High School's class registration booklet will offer up to 45 possible college credits and three different AP courses, providing an appealing option to students on a college track. "For a school our size, there is not one that offers as many college credits as us. And if someone offers more, we are going to beat them," Associate High School Principal Jeremy Kovash laughed.

But despite High School Principal John Rutten and Kovash's playful banter, these two administrators and the rest of the high school staff are committed to setting Perham apart from its neighbors and to fulfill its students' requests for higher standards.

Rutten and Kovash hope the new classes will attract area students who want to be challenged more. With college prices increasing every year and the work force becoming more competitive, Rutten and Kovash have seen a greater interest in the high chool's college credit offerings.


"Our kids are asking for more. They want to be challenged, they want to save money and they want to be asked for more," said Kovash.

New college credit courses include psychology, government, music

Among the new course offerings will be, three additional college credit courses through Minnesota State and Technical College of Fergus Falls, including American National Government, Developmental Psychology, an expansion on the General Psychology course already offered at the high school, and the musical survey course, Exploring our American Musical Heritage. Besides these new options, the high school is adding a course through the University of Minnesota's College in the schools program on Animal Science and a MSTC Post secondary enrollment option (PSEO) course for CNS/Home Health.

The other addition to this fall's roster of course offerings is another Advanced Placement course. The high school offered two AP courses last year including AP Statistics and AP Studio Art. Like the college credit classes, these courses allow students to study more difficult and advanced coursework. The students will not earn a college credit for the course, but may test out of a college course by passing the test on the AP subject.

The new college credit courses are in conjunction with Minnesota's College in the Schools (CIS) program, which began in the 1986-1987 academic school year. Former High School Principal and District Superintendent Dennis Drummond initiated college classes in the high school as early as 1986.

CIS allows students to enroll in college or University courses for dual college and high school credit. Credits earned in high school are, in most cases, able to be transferred to the college the student attends after high school graduation.

Students who wish to take CIS classes must be juniors or seniors and be in the top 20% of their class to enroll in them. This requires students to work hard in lower grade levels to be prepared and eligible for college credit classes.

Students earn college



The classes, taught on site at the high school, offer a host of benefits for students. These benefits include earning college credit without leaving the high school campus, developing college-level thinking and reasoning skills during high school, demonstrating knowledge of the subject matter over an entire semester instead of with one test, getting a head start on post-secondary studies, allowing them more flexibility once they get to college, and receiving access to college campus libraries and resources. Not to mention, the students earn college credits for free with CIS.

The school district foots the cost for high school students to enroll in CIS course offered through the school. Last year the Perham school district paid $135 per student per course for each semester. The price adds up when students are enrolling in three or four courses every semester. However, it is an expense Rutten and Kovash are willing to pay to meet the students' needs.

The high school has put a lot of work into grants to receive financial support with the college course offerings. The school recently received a West Central Initiative grant for $5,000 to help with costs.

Changes in the High School staff, with new teachers and administrators have encouraged increasing the college credit courses.

Chinese language

may be another advanced course offering

Another innovative course offering the district is looking into for the future is Mandarin Chinese. Superintendent Tamara Uselman has been pushing for this addition with China's growing economic strength. While it would not fall under the AP or college credit category, but would give Perham High School students an advantage when they began their college searches.


Rutten said that the new influx of faculty and administration have been pushing for more advanced course offerings--ashave the students.

Kovash agreed and said that the school board has been very committed to the improvements in the course offerings, which is no surprise considering the benefits school districts and teachers also receive from having college credit courses in the high school. College credits provide teachers with more access to the latest educational materials while the school district becomes more competitive in an open enrollment system with more demanding courses.

"We have really become a focal point for area kids," said Kovash.

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