Four years ago, Marquette Catholic High School became the first school within the Catholic Diocese of Gary to transition successfully to 1:1 technology. This past week, Marquette blazed a trail at the state level. 

The Center of Excellence in Leadership of Learning (CELL) at the University of Indianapolis announced Thursday the endorsement of the Early College (EC) program at Marquette Catholic High School as highly effective in implementing with fidelity the Eight Core Principles of Early College. The designation represents the first for a Catholic high school in the state of Indiana.

"This endorsement is a direct result of the diligent work of our students, teachers, and academic affairs office. To see our early college program progress from an idea into a tangible certification has been impressive and extremely rewarding. It reinforces our reputation as a top-tier, faith-based school that prides itself on college readiness. Today is a banner day for Marquette Catholic High School," principal Casey Martin said. 

Marquette’s EC program - commonly referred to as MQTT-U - began in 2017, and this year will graduate its inaugural cohort. Of Marquette’s 41 graduating seniors that comprise the Class of 2021, 18 are on track to walk with an Indiana College Core Certificate from Ivy Tech by virtue of 30 dual credits earned. 13 project to earn an associate degree having earned at least 60 credits. A testament to MQTT-U’s staying power, the Class of 2022 boasts 24 students forecasted to earn the Indiana College Core Certificate this June - before their first days of school as high school seniors.

The Early College high school model creates small schools designed to give students jumpstarts on the rest of their lives. While open to all students, Early College programs specifically serve low-income young people, first-generation college students, English language learners, and students of color – all statistically underrepresented in higher education.

To be considered for endorsement, a school must prepare a portfolio that addresses the eight required principles established by CELL, including a rigorous curriculum, robust student supports, and completion data. In addition, a CELL team conducts a campus visit to interview administration, teachers, students, and parents about the EC and its benefits and challenges before designating the program as endorsed.

“These newly-endorsed Early College High Schools have documented evidence of quality programs that help high school students graduate high school and accelerate into post-secondary education, whether at a four-year institution or a career/technical program. These students’ accomplishments are true game-changers for them and their families,” said Sandy Hillman, CELL director of Early College.

CELL, at the University of Indianapolis, is a leading convener, catalyst, and collaborator for dynamic, innovative education change in Indiana. It has trained over 130 high schools across the state in the fundamentals of Early College and endorsed 41 Early Colleges as of April 2021.