Dual Enrollment Expanding in Iowa
College-Level Classes in High School Encompassing More Fields of Study
DUBUQUE, Iowa (AP) — Sparks cascaded around Conner Troy’s outstretched feet in a high school classroom.
With meticulous focus, Troy cut metal with a welding torch’s flame time and again to sharpen his skills.
A desire for challenge brought the Dubuque Senior High School senior to the school’s oxyacetylene welding concurrent course.
Taught with the same rigor as a Northeast Iowa Community College course by a college-approved teacher, the class allowed Troy to receive college credit for free while still a high-schooler.
“It works out perfect. ... It’s going to give me a head start and prior knowledge,” Troy told the Telegraph Herald (http://bit.ly/1igW1Wr).
He plans to attend NICC this fall.
Concurrent or dual enrollment that allows students to earn both high school and college credit have grown in the tri-states and beyond.
Eighty-two percent of high schools nationwide offered such options, enrolling students in 2 million college courses during the 2010-11 school year — an increase from 71 percent of high schools in 2002-03, according to a report released last year by National Center for Education Statistics.
Southwest Wisconsin Technical College in Fennimore, Wis., has dual enrollment agreements with all Wisconsin high schools in the TH Media’s coverage area.
Galena (Ill.) High School has an agreement with Highland Community College. Students also can opt to take online courses from other colleges for dual credit if approved by the high school. Monticello High School has a partnership for concurrent enrollment with Kirkwood Community College.
Dubuque Community School District officials have made a concerted effort in recent years to expand concurrent offerings with NICC.
“This opens doors to students,” said Boyd Card, district curriculum coordinator for career technical education. “They’ll save money and time. ... It’s a sweet deal.”
In 2006, a certified nursing assistant course offered through a partnership with NICC introduced 14 Senior and Hempstead high school students to the world of concurrent education. Those juniors and seniors who completed the course were able to take the state CNA exam to become fully certified and employable.
Four years later, the district refocused concurrent efforts with the addition of classes such as dosage calculations to create the first consortium of college-level classes known as CTE health. Concurrent offerings expanded to include classes within technology education, business education and family consumer science consortiums.
“(Card) has really been instrumental in building up those other areas,” said Katie Gilbert, director of high school partnerships with NICC.
A former teacher, Card led the charge to increase concurrent courses when he was hired in 2010 as the district curriculum coordinator for CTE.
“It’s just a great time to be in the vocational area,” he said. “There’s so much more potential to grow.”
An example of that continued growth is the district’s addition of two concurrent courses — child health, safety and nutrition and infant/toddler care and education — in the family consumer science consortium this school year. The consortium will grow to include early childhood curriculum I and II next school year.
NICC offered 14 unique concurrent courses for both high schools and served 237 students this school year.
“We want to expose students to a wide variety of career options. Concurrent enrollment is one of the ways we can do that,” Gilbert said.
Not only can high-schoolers experiment with college courses to determine if they are interested in a certain field, but they also save money. For instance, tuition at NICC was $150 per credit hour this school year. The majority of concurrent classes offered at Dubuque’s public high schools are three credit hour courses.
According to the NICC Institutional Research Office, high school students enrolled in concurrent courses saved an estimated $11 million in tuition in FY 2013.
“I really enjoy (concurrent courses) because it doesn’t cost me anything,” said Carmen McDermott, a Hempstead senior.
Convenience also is critical. Many of the courses are taught by NICC-approved district teachers at the high schools. Only the construction course is taught at NICC.
NICC has grown its concurrent partnership since its start with Western Dubuque County Community School District’s two high schools in 1992.
“It’s been good. We are constantly in touch with NICC,” said Western Dubuque High School Principal Dave Hoeger.
Accredited by the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships, NICC works with 25 high schools in 21 districts, including Wahlert Catholic High School and Edgewood-Colesburg High School.
In Dubuque, partnerships with NICC and local businesses continue to allow concurrent education to thrive.
“The future is to continue to grow, to continue to work with NICC,” Card said, adding there might be opportunities to work with other institutions in the future.