Monday, December 04, 2017

Dual Credit Classes

Sacramento State University has a dual credit program called ACE--Accelerated College Entrance.  If a high school can get a course ACE approved, then enrolled students who pass that course can get units at Sac State.

I'm told that Sac State's math department has never approved a course for ACE.  I'm also told that part of the reason is their belief that if a student gets college credit, he/she should be taught by a college-eligible teacher.  In other words, an ACE approved math class should be taught by a teacher with a master's degree--and not one in education, either.

Last May I finished a Master of Arts in Teaching Math program through the University of Idaho.  It consisted of 8 math classes and 2 education classes (I chose testing/assessment and educational philosophy, both of which were exceptional courses).  I absolutely meet the requirements to teach math in our local community college district, but I'm not sure if my M.A.T. Math degree qualifies me to teach at Sac State.

I submitted my statistics course for ACE approval.  I'm still waiting to hear back, but I'm told that if anyone in my district stands a chance at getting a math class ACE approved, it's me.  Cross your fingers for me!

That was a rather lengthy lead-in to an Education Week article called Four Ways to Build a Good Program for College Credit in High School, lifted here in its entirety:
Programs that offer high school students the chance to earn college credit should be designed with four key principles in mind to ensure high quality, according to a report released Thursday.

The popularity of dual-enrollment courses and other programs that confer college credit has soared in recent years. But as their popularity has grown, so has awareness of their problems. Weak courses that don't measure up to college standards. A patchwork of varying requirements for teachers who teach them. Disappointment when promised credits don't transfer.

These are among the concerns that led the College Board to convene a "College Credit in High School Working Group" to study the field and come up with nuts-and-bolts advice to help program designers avoid potential problems. The group, which includes some powerhouse names in education policy, issued its report today.

Its guidance falls into four categories of questions that can be used to shape programs:
  • Rigor and accountability. Programs should be able to demonstrate that students who earn college credit in high school have indeed mastered college-level work. This means showing that a student who got college credit in English can perform as well as a college student in an equivalent course. Data about those outcomes should be shared with the public. Programs also must ensure that teachers are qualified to teach college-level courses.
  • Value for time and money invested. To ensure a sound investment, policymakers should study outcomes to see whether dual-credit students are progressing through college and participating in the workforce. To fulfill a promise that dual-credit programs can save students money, states should examine course-credit transfer policies.
  • Equity and access. Programs should ensure equal access by all students. Recent studies have found that low-income and racial minority students, and boys, don't take advantage of dual-enrollment programs as often as other students do. Programs must do a better job of informing notifying students and parents of the opportunity, the College Board paper says.
  • Transparency about credit transfer. Students "should be clearly informed ahead of time" about whether their credits will transfer to the college they plan to attend, and whether those credits will be applied to their chosen course of study. High schools, employers, and higher education must collaborate to design dual-enrollment programs, so the "content and skills that high school students learn are aligned with what colleges and employers expect and that credits transfer appropriately."
Those seem like reasonable enough criteria.


Anonymous said...

Given that an AP Stats course exists, which is designed to provide college credit, why not just teach that?

Ellen K said...

We also have dual credit classes, which can be beneficial for kids who aren't necessarily ready for the rigor of AP classes, but who want a leg up on college credits. My daughter took dual credit for Economics and Government. She enjoyed the freedom of driving to the community college and being in a class where people chose to participate. She ended up with 12 hours of credit and when it was added to her AP credits, she entered college as a sophomore. That was an economic necessity. In the state of Texas, dual credit course credit HAS to be accepted by state schools. In fact in Texas community and state schools must agree on course that will transfer. Frankly I have more of an issue with how AP credit is given. It seems some schools are dismissive of the rigor of AP courses-although I've had students tell me their AP classes were far harder than some of their college courses. Students ask me why they should commit time and effort for an AP class that will not help them gain college credit. I don't know whether to blame College Board or the colleges themselves. I do know that the same courses covered by AP are often jobs programs for grad students-and to have classes you have to have students.

Darren said...

I teach more content than AP Stats. I don't go into as much depth, but *some* of the depth in AP seems unnecessary to me. Also, I *really* like the idea of students' getting credit without having to pay $70 or so for a test--that may or may *not* be accepted at various colleges.

Ellen K said...

The AP tests for our kids are now $94 per test. We have students taking multiple tests. What is more, if we don't have more than half of the students enrolled taking the test, we have an assistant principal who comes down and rants at us about it. I know I'm not paying for those tests and frankly I can see where parents getting ready to send kids to college might demur from spending $700 on tests that may or may not qualify their students for credits. I have students sign an agreement (not binding, just putting it in front of them) when they walk in the door that the expectation is that all AP students will take the exam. That being said, I can't make them do it and frankly I'm not sure every AP student should take the exam. I have a handful of kids who will not make higher than a 2. Should we make them stress and spend money for an exam just to enhance the school's stats? Because that is the endgame at my school.