Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Dual-Credit is Key In Education Reform

As I've noted on several occasions, there is much inefficiency in the way we direct our students to bachelor degrees. Problematically, half the students who go on to a four-year college don't finish, and many people seeking careers that need an associate's degree end up going for a bachelor's. Additionally, we have established twelve years as being the standard for being ready for college, when that number is arbitrary at best, and completely overestimated for the top thirty percent in the country. Additionally, the rise of AP and IB could alleviate some of the waste in time and money for college classes, yet many colleges are now reducing the credit for those programs.

However, there is a growing trend in dual-credit courses where students can take core classes in high school, that if taught by a qualified teacher with appropriate rigor, can also count for college credit in associate degree programs. This concept is long overdue, and the Denver Post spotlights it in an article today about students who are moving more efficiently through the k-16 labyrinth. The story discusses several students who pursue college courses in high school. Notably there is Lauren Goh:

Goh, 18, fit the profile of the high achiever who was the traditional target of concurrent enrollment. For two years, she took most of her classes at Red Rocks Community College instead of Golden High — where she still was elected student body president.

"High school is definitely a unique experience, but I'd had enough of it," Goh said. "At Red Rocks, there were people in their 60s I'd make friends with, from all walks of life. That was the appeal to me."

She earned her high school diploma and associate degree on the same day. Eventually, she faced a choice: Transfer her credits and begin as a junior at any number of schools, or enroll at Harvard for four year.

A high school diploma and an associate's degree on the same day. I know so many students for whom this should apply, as I regularly tell my AP Lang juniors at the end of the year that they "are ready for college." Sadly, the AP system is arbitrary, and many schools won't give them credit and will make them re-take classes for which they are already qualified. This is a ridiculous waste of time and money.

Dual-credit, also called concurrent enrollment, is precisely the type of reform that can alleviate the logjam of public education, and ease many of the funding problems in schools. We can get kids out of school and on with their lives in a much more efficient and effective manner.


Jerry Edmonds said...

For additional resources on creating quality concurrent/dual enrollment programs you should visit the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships (NACEP - Additionally, there are many long standing programs that provide examples of sustainable models - Syracuse University's Project Advance (, Indiana University's Advance College Project ( and University of Minnesota's College in the Schools (

mmazenko said...

Jerry, Thanks for the links. These are great resources - anything to spread the message.

Queen Lucy said...

That is a good idea; most of my older friends have taken a few college courses during high school. And I know of some people who have started college at 15 or 16. It can be done; we are not dumb like most adults think we are, many teens just don't do much because not much is expected of them. Expect much, and believe we can accomplish much, and we will.

mmazenko said...

Well said, Queen Lucy.

The children will show us the way.