Oregon Bill Would Require College Credit in High School

The Oregon Legislature is looking at making college students out of every Oregon high-school student.

A bipartisan group of legislators has introduced a bill that would require college coursework as a condition of graduating from high school. The move would increase the number of students going to college, make their degrees more affordable and encourage students not considering college to continue in higher education, said Sen. Mark Hass, a Beaverton Democrat who is the bill’s chief sponsor.

“It represents a great play on college affordability if someone can come out of Roseburg High School with 40 credits,” Hass said Tuesday at a committee hearing for the measure. “That student saves thousands of dollars for himself and his family on the cost of a bachelor’s degree. Not only that, it helps those students have a much more productive career while they’re in high school.”

Critics say students shouldn’t be forced to take college courses if they’re not interested. Every student should have access to college-level courses if they want them, said Margaret DeLacy, a board member at the Oregon Association for Talented and Gifted, but not all students will want to.

“We believe that students are individuals, and each student’s needs should be addressed as flexibly as possible,” DeLacy told lawmakers.

The effort illustrates an enduring tension in education as the Legislature tries to improve the quality of schools while facing severe funding shortfalls.

The current draft of Senate Bill 222 would require college credit for six of the 24 high-school classes required to earn a diploma, starting with the class of 2020. It also would provide a yet-to-be-determined amount of money to help teachers get the necessary training to teach advanced-level classes.

The bill is likely to change substantially before going before the full Senate, Hass said, and the mandate for college credits could eventually be watered down or removed. But he said he’s committed to creating powerful incentives for high schools to boost the number of students earning college credits.

Last school year, more than 25,000 Oregon high-school students took dual-enrollment classes, which are taught by high-school teachers and result in simultaneous credit toward high-school and college graduation requirements. Others earned college credit through Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate programs.

Offering college-level courses can be especially tough in small and rural school districts, where teachers often cover several subjects, said Sen. Arnie Roblan, a Coos Bay Democrat and former high-school principal. Dual-credit courses can only be taught by teachers with a master’s degree in the subject they’re teaching. (Read more.)

Via Jonathan J. Cooper, Associated Press in Diverse Issues in Higher Education.

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Advanced Placement vs. Dual Enrollment

Can we please dispense with the fiction that Advanced Placement courses in any way resemble college courses? Because that’s what it is—a fiction, carefully crafted by the College Board to promote its AP franchise to the detriment of other, better options. Specifically, I’m talking about dual enrollment, a program in many states that allows qualified high-school seniors (and in some cases, juniors) to take actual college courses. Typically those courses count for both high-school and college credit, and are directly transferable into the state-university system (and often beyond). In many states, like mine, tuition and fees for dual-enrollment students are minimal.

I speak as someone who has had a great deal of experience with both AP and DE. As a college administrator and professor, I’ve dealt with hundreds of students who had, or were seeking, AP credit. I’ve also taught hundreds (probably well over 1,000) dual-enrollment students.

Moreover, as a parent, I have four children who have all taken at least one AP course (the youngest is a ninth-grader currently taking AP “HUG,” or human geography), and I am now on my third dual-enrollment student. My two older kids each earned a full year of college credit while dually enrolled, which served them well, as my daughter went on to graduate from a private liberal-arts college in three years and my son (fingers crossed) appears poised to do the same.

I might add that this has also served our family well, considering the price tag for a year at a private liberal-arts college.

Anecdotally speaking, all three of my kids have found dual enrollment to be far superior as an educational experience to taking AP courses in high school. It’s not that AP courses are bad. As high-school courses go, they’re well above average because they usually have the best teachers and the best students. But the point is, they’re high-school classes, not college classes. (Read more.)

Via Rob Jenkins, The Chronicle of Higher Ed.

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More Students Are Taking Community-College Courses While in High School

Nicole Perez spends her school days at a local high school here, but when the 17-year-old senior steps into English class she is dipping her toes into college.

Ms. Perez is one of a growing number of students taking community-college courses at their high schools. These “dual-enrollment” classes are a low- or no-cost way for students to gain college credits, helping smooth their way to a college degree.

“It’s a little more work, but I actually like that,” said Ms. Perez, who hopes the credits will save her time and money next year, when she plans to attend a four-year university.

The growing cost of college, rising student debt and a weak economy have prompted a rethinking of the role of community colleges. In 2009, President Barack Obama made community colleges a big part of his plan to return the U.S. to its perch as the nation with the most higher-education degrees per capita by 2020.

High-achieving students long have been able to earn college credits by taking advanced-placement classes—such as history, chemistry and literature—that prepare them for an exam. The new community-college classes are designed to boost a broader group of students to the college gate.

By joining with local high schools, some community colleges are designing remedial classes to be sure that students are college-ready. They also are offering more advanced classes such as the one Ms. Perez is taking.

These classes use the same curriculum, grading and testing as those at the community colleges, said Adam Lowe, who directs the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships, a professional group for dual-enrollment programs. <Read more.  May require paid subscription.>

Via Caroline Porter, The Wall Street Journal.

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Rural District Nurtures Dual-Enrollment Effort

Brittney Crews took so many dual-credit courses at rural Halifax County High in South Boston, Va., that she received an associate degree weeks before her 2011 high school graduation ceremony.

“It helps you go ahead and start your life instead of having to stay so long in school,” said Ms. Crews, 19, who now attends Jefferson College of Health Sciences in Roanoke, Va.

Ms. Crews’ situation isn’t unique for Halifax County High. Nearly one-fifth of its 407 seniors earned associate degrees by the time they graduated last school year, and 91 percent finished high school with a college transcript. The approximately 1,700-student school has become a leader in dual-enrollment participation in the state for its emphasis on dual-enrollment courses.

Halifax County High has accomplished that despite its rural location, and it did so through a number of efforts, such as encouraging high school teachers to become college instructors, creating satellite sites for dual-enrollment courses, and raising its number of student participants by offering college-level classes in career and technical education areas.

The Halifax County district, which enrolls about 5,900 students, expanded its dual-enrollment portfolio under the leadership of its former superintendent, Paul Stapleton, who wanted to see more of his students go to college.

“It was like most things in education,” he said. “If there’s a need and you’re in a rural area, you try to solve a problem. You know no one is going to come to your rescue.”

Students in dual enrollment earn both high school and college credit for taking the same course. More than 70 percent of public high schools offered dual-credit courses about 10 years ago, according to the most recent available figures from the National Center for Education Statistics. But rural schools often face difficulties in offering such courses because of their distance from colleges and the high cost of transportation. (Read more.)

Via Diette Courrégé, Education Week.

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Dual Enrollment Linked With Significant College Advantage

New research shows students who get a taste of college while still in high school are much more likely to continue their education and complete a degree.

Jobs for the Future, the education research nonprofit based in Boston, conducted an extensive study following 32,908 Texas high school students who graduated in 2004 for six year. Half participated in dual enrollment programs and half did not. The two groups had similar academic and social backgrounds.

The results are striking endorsement of the model. JFF found dual enrollment students were:

• 2.2 times more likely to enroll in a Texas two- or four-year college;

• 2.0 times more likely to return for a second year of college; and

• 1.7 times more likely to complete a college degree.

These findings held for all racial groups, as well as for students from low-income backgrounds.

While 54 percent of dual enrollment high school graduates earned a college degree, just 37 percent of those in the control group did the same. Looking at bachelor’s degrees, 47 percent of those in dual enrollment completed at a four-year college compared to 30 percent of non-dual enrollment graduates.

“The theory behind dual enrollment is that enabling high school students to experience real college coursework is one of the best ways to prepare them for college success,” according to the JFF report.

The organization recommends policymakers expand dual enrollment as a way to enhance college readiness and state policy should ensure low-income and underrepresented students can take advantage of the courses by providing more preparation and support for these populations.

Via Caralee Adams, Education Week.

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