Dual enrollment and early college are essential ingredients to college completion | Pierpont C&TC

Dual enrollment and early college are essential ingredients to college completion

Dual enrollment and early college are essential ingredients to college completion

Dual enrollment and early college are essential ingredients to college completion
 
Recently, a number of state legislators, educators, community leaders and members of the state Board of Education attended the West Virginia Public Education Collaborative’s third annual Legislators’ Forum on Education and the Economy, which focused on preparing students for the realities of our rapidly-evolving knowledge and technology-based economy. This economy demands development of skills and credentials beyond the high school level—career certification and two-year degrees or higher—to penetrate those sectors of the job market that offer secure employment and wages sufficient to support a family.
 
As president of Pierpont Community & Technical College and a member of the WVPEC, I strongly believe that early access to a college education is and will always be critically important to the social and economic mobility of all students. Dual Enrollment, early college models and college promise scholarships are growing in popularity across the country. So far, nearly 23 states have some component of a college promise scholarship. In most cases, this scholarship only applies to community college students. In Tennessee, the governor declared that all high school students will be able to attend community colleges for free via the Tennessee Promise. In Arkansas, students enter into a written agreement and are matched with a mentor. They then have to do at least 15 hours of community service and must reside in the state for three years after graduation in order to participate in tuition-free college programs. If students decide to leave the state, their scholarship would then become a loan that they would have to pay back. Several states, such as Minnesota, fund dual enrollment entirely from the state level, but funding can also come from high school districts, postsecondary institutions, or a combination of the two.
 
The fundamental purpose of dual enrollment is the attainment of college credits while in high school, which could save both time and money for many students who desire to pursue higher education at a college or university. The appropriate implementation of dual enrollment programs should help address concerns of college cost, as well as academic and career readiness. DE courses that students take should lead to an outcome that is worthwhile, marketable, and goes toward a credential or degree completion. Nationwide, billions of dollars and millions of hours are wasted on unnecessary courses. This is an unnecessary burden of taxpayers, including West Virginians, who subsidize public higher education.
 
Despite the popularity of DE programs throughout the state of West Virginia, I believe that these programs are underutilized. Our DE programs need to be more comprehensive in nature to improve their quality, add more career and technical options, and expand access to rural, low-income and minority students, who are typically underrepresented in these programs. I strongly recommend that our policymakers consider exploring early college models similar to those that have been utilized for over a decade in the state of Texas. For example, the Independent School District of Roscoe, Texas is an excellent example of how public school districts of all sizes, demographics, and locations are pushing the boundaries of innovation and 21st century learning, and expanding quality school choice for students across Texas. No one told Roscoe ISD they could partner with industry, give all students the opportunity to graduate with both a high school diploma and an associate’s degree, and introduce STEM, drone, vet-tech programs and more. They just did it. And it’s paying off big time, for students, the district, and the local economy. Without question, I believe the Roscoe TX Collegiate ISD Model should be piloted across rural West Virginia. Boone County has already begun implementation of an early college model at Van High School with tremendous community support.
 
Similarly, our policymakers should consider investing in a Career Dual Enrollment Model. What is a CDEM? I envision a comprehensive partnership between the WV Community & Technical Colleges and the Career and Technical Education Centers throughout the state. The CDEM would provide an alternative pathway for thousands of CTE Students to earn Early College credits in a more coordinated manner leading to an outcome (i.e., certification or degree). Consequently, the state will be better able to achieve its goal of equipping at least 60 percent of West Virginians with a degree or certificate by 2030, in line with WV HEPC’s CLIMB initiative.
 
Dual enrollment programs and early college models both have unlimited potential in the state of West Virginia. Dual credit courses taken by high school students in the traditional approach (university paralleled) and/or via an Early College Model are potentially the greatest tools for propelling West Virginia’s students toward college persistence and completion, and direct access to the workforce earlier. However, we should not undermine the potential success of the aforementioned programs by not properly funding half of the partners that make the programs work—the community and technical colleges and universities. We have to ensure that dual enrollment and early college models can grow in their ability to prepare even more West Virginians for academic and economic success. In preparation for the 2019 West Virginia Legislative Session, it is my hope that we put our dual enrollment programs and early college models on the forefront of education investment. In the meantime, the WVPEC membership will continue to partner with WV Forward and others to address our evolving economy and ways to support our education system in adapting to address new workforce needs as our state moves forward.
 
Original story here
null