In the Northeast, several schools are offering dual-credit courses and in some cases, legislation has provided incentive for these programs. For example, in 2013, Maryland enacted the College Readiness and Completion Act of 2013. The measure requires high schools to test students on their college readiness before they finish their junior years. By 2015 high schools will need to create “transition” courses for students who are deemed unprepared for college-level courses in English.
At Gateway Community College in Connecticut, the “high school partnership program” is an intervention program that targets low-achieving seniors and offers them developmental English courses for a full year in the hopes that they will be more prepared for college courses upon graduation. The credentials for teachers teaching in this program are the same as they are for college instructors.
Approximately 40 area high schools participate in the dual-enrollment program at Bergen Community College in New Jersey. According to Adam Goodell, Interim Dean of Humanities at Bergen Community, “Most of the dual-enrolled courses in English that I’ve been involved with or have learned about are with fairly high-performing high schools in the county. The faculty at the dual-enrolled high school always have at least the credentials any adjunct faculty member would have to have (Masters degree in the subject area) and the courses are often quite rigorous: the students taking the course are usually in some “Honors”/AP category. The credentials of the faculty are still equivalent to what they’d be if they were teaching a class at the college. In general, I think our departments support dual-enrolling – or, at least, they don’t really object.” In addition to the dual enrollment program, there is a BCC Prep program for current high school seniors, and a College Experience program, in which eligible students may take up to six credits in the fall or spring semesters and one course in any summer session.
At Harrisburg Area Community College in Pennsylvania, all instructors teaching dual-credit courses have to apply and become qualified to teach in their disciplines. Instructors are required to have master’s degrees, and there are different degree requirements depending on the discipline. Although faculty are observed regularly, faculty opinion is mixed on these offerings. There is currently a bit of a disconnect between how the College in High School courses and similar ones at the community college.
There is also some evidence that the approaches to this are evolving. One recent development in Maryland is that Governor Larry Hogan is now incentivizing students to finish high school in three years and move on to college, instead of completing dual enrollment programs. In January 2016 Governor Hogan signed a bill creating the Maryland Early Graduation Scholarship Program, a new initiative that will make college more affordable for students who complete high school in three years or less. Under the program, eligible students will receive a one-time scholarship up to $6,000 for tuition and expenses at any approved postsecondary educational institution in Maryland. The future of dual credit courses in the East is unclear, but community colleges will clearly be on the front lines of these developments.
Special thanks to the following for their contributions to this report:
Lise-Pauline Barnett of Harrisburg Area Community College (Pennsylvania), Dean Adam Goodell and David Eichenholtz of Bergen Community College (New Jersey), Stacy Korbelak of Howard Community College (Maryland), and Elizabeth Keefe of Gateway Community College (Connecticut).