Idaho Board of Education to Study Fairness in Dual Credit System

TWIN FALLS Idaho

A State Board of Education official says the time may be ripe to re-examine the dual credit system that allows high school students to earn college and high school credit at the same time when they take college-level classes.

State officials say they want to make certain the dual credit system is applied fairly and consistently across the state.

“We haven’t looked at concurrent enrollment or dual enrollment in a comprehensive way in a while,” said Decker Sanders, the interim chief post-secondary academic officer with the Idaho State Board of Education. “It’s time to do that review. The key word is equity.”

Community colleges and school districts like the system because it gives high school students the opportunity to get an affordable head start on higher education, though some say they would like to see even more coursework opportunities available for students.

In the Magic Valley, for example, nearly 300 students at Twin Falls High School are enrolled for dual credit classes at the College of Southern Idaho, according to Wiley Dobbs, district superintendent. On a broader range, students from an eight-county region have enrolled for about 918 dual credits this year through the community college, an increase from 883 a year ago, according to figures provided by college officials.

“It would be my goal that every student participates in one of these types of classes,” Dobbs told the Times-News. “It makes for a good transition” to college.

But state officials say it may be time to review the program, specifically whether the classes offered high school students are as rigorous as those taught at the college level.

Jerry Beck, president of CSI, says dual-credit coursework is similar to all other credit courses offered by the school. But Beck says if the board wants equity, it should focus on bolstering dual credit options in rural corners of the state.

“I think there’s a lack of equity in access across the state,” Beck said. “If the State Board sees a need to review material, I think that’s fine.”

Price is one of the most appealing aspects of the dual-credit system, officials say.

Riley Baird, a 17-year-old senior at Twin Falls High School, says college credits at CSI typically cost between $65 and $110 a credit, half the cost charged by public universities. Baird has already earned 16 college credits through the program.

“It saves a lot of money,” Baird said. “I think it’s a pretty good system for the most part.”

Baird said she has also opted for dual-credit because of the lack of other options at her school for earning college credit ahead of time, including advance placement classes that are administered by the College Board.

Information from: The Times-News, http://www.magicvalley.com



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