FORT LAUDERDALE, FL. — High school students in Broward County have a new resource to build the skills to succeed in college and beyond, thanks to a partnership announced today between Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) and the National Educational Equity Lab (Ed Equity Lab), a nonprofit that works to bridge the gap between high school and college for students from low-income backgrounds.
The ambitious initiative, which has reached over 3,000 high school students in 34 cities over the past 18 months, will provide more than 200 students at Title I high schools across BCPS with free access to Yale University’s most popular course, “Psychology and the Good Life,” taught by pioneering cognitive psychologist Dr. Laurie Santos.
Widely recognized as one of the most rigorous and sought-after courses across all of higher education, “Psychology and the Good Life” explores the factors that lead to personal happiness and is rooted in principles of positive psychology and applied behavioral science. The course has inspired nearly a quarter of Yale’s undergraduate students, and its Coursera iteration has garnered more than 2.2 million online enrollments. Participating BCPS students will take the exact same course as Yale students and receive college credit from University of Connecticut.
“Even before the outbreak of COVID-19, high school and college students were grappling with all-too-familiar mental health challenges – which, of course, have only been exacerbated by the pandemic and the country’s ongoing reckoning with systemic racism,” Santos said. “While this course is ultimately about examining the factors that contribute to real happiness, it’s also a unique opportunity for high school students to access the sort of rigorous college-level coursework that sparks curiosity, intrinsic motivation, and the confidence to persist and succeed.”
The partnership reinforces the ongoing commitment of BCPS to closing equity gaps. The District, in which more than six in 10 students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch, recently increased its graduation rate to 89.4 percent, narrowing the gap between Black and white students by 4 percentage points.
“Fulfilling higher education’s democratic promise demands that colleges reach down into the K-12 system to help students build not just college-going aspirations, but also the skills and confidence to know they can excel in the most challenging – and inspiring – educational environments,” said Robert W. Runcie, superintendent of Broward County Public Schools and board member of Ed Equity Lab. “This course is about helping students recognize their own innate passion and potential and empowering them with the tools to succeed throughout their higher education journey and beyond.”
In addition to its launch in Broward County, the Ed Equity Lab will deliver and support Yale’s course to students in more than 40 Title I high schools across the country, including in Los Angeles, New York, Baton Rouge, Orlando, Meriden, Connecticut, and Gallup, New Mexico. In addition to Yale and UConn, other top colleges and universities working with the Ed Equity Lab to provide college credit-bearing courses to talented historically underserved high school students include: Howard University, Cornell University, Arizona State University and Harvard University for the inaugural pilot.
“Our work with universities and districts around the country shows that especially for students in underserved schools, access to actual college courses with real college professors can have a transformative impact,” said Alexandra Slack, Chief of Staff at the National Education Equity Lab. “With the support of the Broward County team, we’re taking the next step in a nationwide effort to reimagine opportunities at the intersection of high school and college.”