Study shows positive link between dual enrollment, college attendance | CraigDailyPress.com

Study shows positive link between dual enrollment, college attendance

Moffat County High School student Hannah Peterson takes notes in her music appreciation class, taught by Mary Karen Solomon, at Colorado Northwestern Community College Wednesday afternoon. Peterson is one of 12 concurrent enrollment high school students in the class, making up more than half the class's enrollment. "The high schoolers definitely have to be up to the mark," Solomon said, in order to ensure the class keeps college-level rigor.

The concurrent enrollment program through Colorado Northwestern Community CollegeColorado Northwestern Community College gives high school students an opportunity not only to get a jump on their college education, but to do so without spending a dime. gives high school students an opportunity not only to get a jump on their college education, but to do so without spending a dime.

Colorado Northwestern Community College gives high school students an opportunity not only to get a jump on their college education, but to do so without spending a dime.

Also known as dual enrollment, the program allows students to take college courses for both high school and college credit. If a student earns a passing grade in the class, they can apply those credits towards their college degree.

With approximately 185 Moffat County students taking 1,242 college credits this semester through the program, the value equals more than $160,000 in tuition cost savings for local students and their parents, according to CNCC's new Director of Concurrent Enrollment Julie Hoff.

The program works through a partnership between Moffat County School District and CNCC. With half of the tuition provided for through county taxes — a deal available to any Moffat County resident — the idea is for the program to break even for both the college and the school district.

"Its beneficial to both of us," Hoff said. "The idea is it's not a cost for either of us and especially not for the student."

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The intent behind the program is to provide early, affordable access to college, Hoff said, with the ultimate goal of increasing student's likelihood for attending college.

"(It's) to make kids feel capable and to get the skills they need to move onto college and be successful," she said. "It can also help them fine tune their college desires… so they can better define their college path which saves them more time and money."

One 2011 study from the National Center for Postsecondary Research2011 study from the National Center for Postsecondary Research found that, indeed, students’ participation in dual enrollment courses increased the likelihood they would attend college. found that, indeed, students' participation in dual enrollment courses increased the likelihood they would attend college.

2011 study from the National Center for Postsecondary Research found that, indeed, students' participation in dual enrollment courses increased the likelihood they would attend college.

The study compares dual enrollment with Advanced Placement courses, college-level high school classes through which students can earn college credit if they achieve above a certain score on the final exam. Moffat County High School just added five new AP courses this year.

"Overall, there are significant positive relationships between both AP and DE participation and students' likelihood of enrolling in college after high school, first enrolling in a four-year institution, and obtaining a bachelor's degree," according to the study.

The research showed, however, that students who took dual enrollment courses on a college campus — as opposed to those offered in a high school — were more likely than AP students to go to college after high school, but less likely to first enroll in a four-year college.

CNCC's dual enrollment program offers six courses taught at MCHS, and students can sign up for nearly any course offered at the college with approval from the school district, and so long as their test scores indicate readiness for the course. Some students even earn certificates, such as in cosmetology or automotive mechanics, by the time they graduate from high school.

MCHS senior Hannah Peterson is taking two courses at CNCC this semester, in addition to AP English (also a dual enrollment course) and college algebra, both offered at MCHS.

"I think it's great that we have the chance to take college classes," Peterson said. "The teachers have a different view on teaching. In high school, they baby you along more… In college, they teach from when the class starts to when the class ends."

Peterson moved to Craig from Arvada specifically to attend MCHS and take advantage of programs such as agriculture and Future Farmers of America. Though her old school was near a community college, concurrent enrollment was not something many students took advantage of there.

"They didn't push it as much as Moffat County does," she said. "Moffat County High School is getting us ready for life so much more than where I went."

Still, the Higher Learning CommissionHigher Learning Commission, which is responsible for accrediting the college, is tightening its grip on teacher credentialing, which could mean some changes to the program in coming years. In order to teach college-level courses that students may later apply towards a bachelor’s degree (CNCC’s guaranteed transfer agreements ensure students can take their credits to any public, four-year institution in the state), instructors must have a master’s degree in the subject area they teach. , which is responsible for accrediting the college, is tightening its grip on teacher credentialing, which could mean some changes to the program in coming years. In order to teach college-level courses that students may later apply towards a bachelor's degree (CNCC's guaranteed transfer agreements ensure students can take their credits to any public, four-year institution in the state), instructors must have a master's degree in the subject area they teach.

Higher Learning Commission, which is responsible for accrediting the college, is tightening its grip on teacher credentialing, which could mean some changes to the program in coming years. In order to teach college-level courses that students may later apply towards a bachelor's degree (CNCC's guaranteed transfer agreements ensure students can take their credits to any public, four-year institution in the state), instructors must have a master's degree in the subject area they teach.

CNCC has until September 2017 to ensure that all of its instructors, including MCHS instructors who teach dual enrollment courses, are properly credentialed.

"We have to maintain those college standards no matter whether they're taught here or on the high school campus," Hoff said. "That's the bottom line is we want those credits to mean something when those kids go on."

Contact Lauren Blair at 970-875-1794 or Contact Lauren Blair at 970-875-1794 or lblair@CraigDailyPress.com or follow her on Twitter @CDP_Education.Contact Lauren Blair at 970-875-1794 or lblair@CraigDailyPress.com or follow her on Twitter @CDP_Education.

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