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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Dual enrollment soars, but is it really college?

Sarah Olufemi-Dada is graduating from her Texas high school with a diploma, an associate science and a full scholarship to Stanford, reports KHOU11. She plans to study bioengineering and computer science.


The Cypress High School student took dual-enrollment classes at LoneStar College CyFair, while working to help support her family. She cut back on extracurriculars to make time. “I wanted to be great and though I couldn’t be great in my instrument or my sport, I knew at least with academics, I could do something,” she said.


California should enroll every ninth grader in at least one community college course, argues Sonya Christian, the incoming chancellor of the system. The idea is that college is for everyone, not just for high achievers like Olufemi-Dada.


Her model is McFarland High School, in a small, nearly all Latino farm town, where all ninth graders are enrolled in Bakersfield College's career planning course.


Students are put on track to earn at least nine college credits, writes Emma Gallegos in EdSource. Some can try to earn an associate degree for transfer, while others earn college credit "in agriculture business management, public health, education, photography and welding."


The latest available data shows McFarland High students do better than the state average in English Language Arts, but very poorly in math and science.


Many California high school graduates fail entry-level reading, writing and math classes in community college. Could they really pass those classes in ninth or tenth or 11th or 12th grade? Perhaps photography and welding.


Michael Horn, writing in Forbes, points out the risks of expanding dual enrollment without "external validation" to ensure students really are learning at the college level.


Early research suggests that dual-enrollment students benefit, when the program is "done well," Horn writes. How often is it done well? We don't know.

. . . in many high schools, the neighboring community college trains the high school teachers to deliver the community college course So students aren’t actually taking a college course taught by a college professor with other college students. Is the resulting teaching and learning experience the same as a college course?

Horn has his doubts.


If it's not feasible for high school students to travel to a college campus to take a course taught by a professor, he suggests taking a college class online.


Acadeum "started offering dual enrollment opportunities two years ago," he writes. "High school students in these courses are taking the actual college course, with an actual faculty member, and sometimes with other college students." The platform offers more than 3,000 courses from 20 institutions.


"Similarly, Arizona State University Prep Digital — an accredited K–12 online high school where I’m an advisor — offers students in its partner high schools the opportunity to take actual college classes from ASU," Horn writes. "Because ASU is a top research institution, credits have a better chance at transferring."


11 Comments


Guest
Jun 05, 2023

I'm a college prof, and from a learning point of view, this is mostly a scam as it's now implemented. I'm a 60-something, and my school (a Catholic one) had something like this with a local university (CCs were only starting in my state then) for Calculus 1-2, Physics, and some other science courses. All the instruction happened at the high school, and our high school grade was based on the teacher's exams. All of the college grade was based on exams that we took at the university, sitting alongside the college students, using exactly the same exam. Our math teacher's exams were brutal, with over half the points coming from proofs. Practically all of the university exams were composed…


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Guest
May 25, 2023

"Michael Horn, writing in Forbes, points out the risks of expanding dual enrollment without 'external validation' to ensure students really are learning at the college level."


Not terribly relevant to this specific article, but "dual enrollment" comes in at least two flavors and it sometimes is important to not mix the two.


Flavor #1, which is what this article seems to be about, is when high school teachers at a given high school teach CC classes at that high school to the existing high school students and then a local community college also credits the students with units.


Flavor #2 is when high school students physically show up at (or maybe today virtually shows up at) the local community colleg…


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Bruce Smith
Bruce Smith
May 27, 2023
Replying to

If students want their credits to transfer out of state, they're better off having the College Board set and grade their AP exams, since, regardless of their teachers' beliefs, their grading lacks credibility when the time comes for higher educational institutions to grant credits, much less recognize their grades' equivalence.

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Guest
May 25, 2023

I have so, so many issues with dual enrollment.

- High schools are choosing DE over AP classes designed to actually test student skills before awarding college credit. Why the shift? Not enough students are passing the AP tests. If they can't pass the AP test, should they really be getting the credit another way?

- If you are teaching a 10th grade English class to fidelity, that should take the entire year. If you are teaching a college English class to fidelity, that should take an entire semester. The math doesn't math. I was academically very gifted and there is no way I could have completed both a high school and college course at the same time if my…

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Guest
May 25, 2023
Replying to

DE is promoted over AP here by the high school because its the easiest way to earn college credit and its lucrative to the staff. AP is one exam, one chance, no do-overs. Often AP is taught to the '2' level, not the '5' level which means serious students will instead find other courses outside of the district. DE at the high school is all local exams with maybe a common final. Parents often won't pay for the college credit for those courses that are pre-reqs, as they know the second course taken at the college is not going to go well and would prefer a repeat or they prefer a higher level or honors course to go on…


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Guest
May 25, 2023

This anecdotes would work better if it was a white male child of blue collar parents who was getting full financial aid (I thought the top schools had made all financial aid need based).


That a black child of immigrants attending a school that is over 60% white/Asian and only 30% free lunch is not a good advertisement. If one wants to make a point out dual enrollment, then find a student that does not set off the BS detectors of so many parents.

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Guest
May 25, 2023

I live in Texas and teach in a Dual Credit offering district. Contrary to one point above, the district actually WANTS the regular high school teachers for become Dual credit certified, as opposed to the outside "college" instructors." So many of the outsider, even though they are technically college faculty, are very poor in quality, often not showing up and not giving the students any challenging work, wheras the high school instructor is usually already teach an AP version of that course. I teach two AP subjects and am getting my certification to teach the dual credit classes this year.

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Guest
May 27, 2023
Replying to

I live in Texas and had three (homeschooled) kids roll through the Dallas Community Colleges as dual credit students. All three reported that the best teachers (apart from their mom, who prepared them for entry) were the old-timers. The college called such veterans the "pioneers". Typically very tough, often insulting, lacking patience, literally "old school" insisting on long essays or doing math tests that had been hand-written and photocopied, with space on the page for the student to "show the work".


The only one of my three who complained about the instructor had the only instructor (and classmates) set up for a local high school. Young instructor, teaching at both the HS and the college. In that case, the classmate…


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