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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

'Dual credits' aren't very helpful, but that can be fixed

Dual-credit programs are supposed to put students "on the fast track" to an affordable college degree, but many teens are earning credits that don't help them reach college or career goals, reports Sarah D. Sparks in Education Week. Many credits earned in high school don't transfer or aren't relevant to students' future major or career field.


"Taking dual-credit courses in high school only saved the equivalent of a few months to one semester of college, and didn’t significantly cut most students’ loan debt," she writes.


Four out of five high schools partner with a nearby community college or university to offer dual credit, according to a report by the Community College Research Center at Teachers College, Columbia. It's great for community colleges, which suffered heavy enrollment loses due to the pandemic, says researcher John Fink. One in five community college students is now in a high school dual-credit program. Colleges are building a pipeline of future students.


But it's not doing much for low-income, first-generation students. Many programs provide “random acts of dual credit,” the report concluded.


Fink and colleagues want to create dual enrollment equity pathways (DEEP) that "lead to family-supporting, career-path jobs for students who might not otherwise pursue education after college."


Keyanna Jackson, who's enrolled in a dual-credit program for future teachers, works with Early Learning Academy students in Goose Creek, Texas. Photo: Carrie Pryor-Newman.

DEEP partnerships are working to link dual-credit courses to valuable career and college-degree programs, writes Sparks. "For example, Miami-Dade public schools and Miami-Dade College ensured that dual-credit classes matched the course labeling and credit system used statewide in two- and four-year degree programs," so credits will transfer automatically to colleges across the state.


In addition, they added new pathways to high-demand careers.

In Goose Creek, Texas, dual-credit courses now align "both with the Texas college entrance exam and the most popular local career fields," writes Sparks. "They launched more focused credit pathways, such as global business and a future teacher academy."


The district helps teachers qualify to teach dual-credit courses. Lee College pays a stipend. Both pay advisers who help students select courses, choose degree programs, plan for college and apply for financial aid. Career and college planning now starts in middle school.


Dual-credit courses taught in high school by high school teachers are risky, writes Michael B. Horn in Forbes. "When done well," dual-credit classes can benefit students, Horn writes. But are they done well? It's not clear. Will the credits transfer? On average, transfer students lose 43 percent of credits, the equivalent of four courses.


William Kimani earned so many dual credits he was graduated from high school with an associate degree, reports Kirk Carapezza on Marketplace. He hoped to save time and money on his bachelor's degree, but the University of Chicago didn't accept any of his community college credits.

11 Comments


Guest
Nov 08, 2023

IMO, econ 101/102, english 101/102, phil 101/102/103, History/Polysci 101/102 should transfer...


I suspect four year colleges are going to have an issue with enrollment starting in fall 2025

when the decline in the birth rate during the Great Recession will cause a 10-15 percent wide

(and permanent) drop in college attendance...

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Guest
Nov 08, 2023

Of course they didn't transfer-- a dual credit high school course is no where near equivalent to instruction at a top university. Most CC classes are not equivalent. And many top universities use AP only for admissions and placement, not credit. However, the dual credit classes probably did help him gain admission, by showing that he tried to challenge himself as much as possible.

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Guest
Nov 10, 2023
Replying to

"In California, there's an Associate Degree for Transfer that guarantees two years of Cal State credit. It's very helpful. But I don't think UC accepts it: They're snobby about community college quality. "


California has a bunch of programs that apply to CC transfers:

*) IGETC: If you take the right mix of classes at your CC (and get good enough grades) then all you GE requirements are considered filled if you transfer to a UC. This is good.


*) AA: The UCs won't care, but if you pay attention to the course catalog then you will have two years of transferable units. My son did :-)


*) TAG: Transfer Acceptance Guarantee. Take the right mix of courses, keep you…


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Guest
Nov 07, 2023

There are degree programs that accept the DE credits...but the commonly offered ones don't all count toward many majors, even as electives. PreCalc is still high school level, whether its for college credit or not. Take it for college credit, then pay for official transcripts to CC, U, and grad/professional school, even when the course doesn't count toward the degree. Skip the expense, take for high school credit only and test in to your next course...which will count toward your degree. The program is great for teachers...they get paid by the course provider just as they do when they teach on the CC campus, so they earn both state pension and SS.

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Bruce Smith
Bruce Smith
Nov 09, 2023
Replying to

Mr Miller, it's difficult to assess the level of competence represented by students' grades when their coursework has only been internally assessed, which probably has much to do with why community college credits don't transfer between states; IB and AP credits typically do, but those programmes struggle with finding instructors who have been officially certified as having mastered the disciplines of instruction preparing for their exams: in each case, the general principle is that higher level third-party certification is more broadly recognized than is that of second parties like teachers and curriculum vendors.

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Guest
Nov 07, 2023

First, one again, a problem caused by lousy academic counselling by schools. Second, in the next year or two, there will be media stories about how the transfer portal for college athletes is lowering athlete graduation rates and leaving athletes with lots of college credits that cannot be used to actually graduate.

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Guest
Nov 07, 2023

There are schools that will accept these credits, but you need go to one of the schools that will take them. Unfortunately, incoming students do not always know the ins and outs of transferring credits.

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