Strengthening dual-credit programs key to higher ed's survival
- Virginia legislators are working to ensure students who enroll in dual-credit programs in high school will be able to transfer those credits to any public college in the state.
- A new bill calls for the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia to work with university officials on a set of quality standards in a move delegates are hoping will draw bipartisan consensus, according to The Washington Post.
- Last fall, 33,700 Virginia students took advantage of dual-enrollment programs, only to learn not all of the classes would be accepted at all of the institutions in the state. Faculty at some of the colleges and universities have expressed concerns over the quality of the courses.
In Dallas, leaders of the community college and K-12 systems realized they were "fumbling the hand-off" between levels of schooling and making it difficult for students to complete on time because they were promoting students who were unprepared to succeed at the next level. Poor communication and inefficient silos between not just each level of education, but sometimes individual schools and departments at the same level are not just problems in Dallas — they're nationwide issues.
Students may graduate from high school without ever taking algebra or other advanced math courses, requiring remediation in the collegiate level. And when they graduate from college, because the focus may have been on teaching them specific skills they need to get a job rather than how to think and adapt to any demands which may arise, they graduate unprepared to succeed in the workforce.
Working across levels to strengthen such programs is not just good practice; it's going to be key to institutional survival. While some concerns have arisen around the tuition which would be lost by encouraging dual-enrollment programs, when you consider significant discounting many institutions are already doing for a large number of students, the amount on the line in lost federal and state appropriations is greater. Institutions which do more to promote affordability and allocate more resources to completion and securing success in the workforce can make a stronger case to public officials for increased public dollars.
In an environment in which the public confidence in higher education is waning almost as quickly as public support, defending against attacks about whether people are actually learning anything in college run against a need to innovate and show public value for what is now considered a private good. The onus is on schools at every level to work together — and include local industry leaders and top employers — to develop curricula that is relevant and transferrable. The PROSPER Act currently making its way through Congress to reauthorize the Higher Education Act includes a focus on developing or expanding access to dual or concurrent programs and early college high school programs which is tied to institutional funding as a means to improve time to completion and increase graduation rates.
- The Washington Post Virginia lawmaker aims to ensure dual-enrollment credits count for college
Follow Autumn A. Arnett on Twitter