Dual credit was a popular education topic in this year’s session, for both K12 and higher education. Encouraged by both educators and students, such as Chala Tafesa, the Minnesota Legislature made significant positive changes to dual credit.
Dual credit refers to programs where high school students can take college-level courses for free, earning credit for both high school and college. It is a great way to help students be motivated to finish high school, be better prepared for postsecondary, and to save precious tuition dollars and time.
More info on dual credit and research available here.
Dual credit programs include Post Secondary Enrollment Options (PSEO), Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB), concurrent enrollment (such as College in the Schools/CIS), and others. Tens of thousands of MN students participate in these programs every year. Hundreds of Minnesota students have utilized these programs to earn a free two-year associate’s degree at the same time they graduate from high school.
Here’s a recap on some important changes and investments made toward dual credit this year. Progress was made through a diverse coalition of supporters and the leadership of Senator Greg Clausen, DFL-Apple Valley. Many of the changes focused on concurrent enrollment courses, where students take college courses right at their high school.
Part of the K12 Education Bill:
• Concurrent enrollment courses have been expanded and can now be taken by 9th and 10th graders, with high school and college approval.
• The limit on years of participation in both PSEO and concurrent enrollment has been removed for students who are deemed ‘not on-track to graduate.’ This will help ‘alternative’ high school students successfully graduate and transition into postsecondary.
• State support to high schools that operate concurrent enrollment courses has been doubled. Previous state support to schools for these courses had been capped at $2M per year; the bill doubled that amount to $4M per year. Schools could expect the state support they receive to increase from about $35/student in such courses to around $70/student. This money helps offset the cost to high schools for partnering with colleges & universities to offer their courses.
• Strengthened the requirement for concurrent enrollment programs to follow standards of quality established by the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships (NACEP).
Part of the Higher Education Bill:
• For the first time ever, the MN Higher Education bill has allocated support for dual credit, with a total of $680,000 in new money
• The Higher Ed bill allocates $450,000 over the next two years to help colleges/universities start new dual credit career/technical courses in collaboration with high schools
• This bill allocates another $230,000 over two years to help colleges and universities already offering concurrent enrollment courses in high schools to expand their programs to additional schools
We now need to make sure that these positive changes and investments are put to the best possible use. Let’s encourage colleges and high schools to make sure they are inclusive with these programs so that ALL of our students have the opportunity to reap the benefits of dual credit.
Congrats to Minnesota students, families, educators, legislators, and advocates who worked hard to make this progress possible. This is a positive step toward helping all of our young people realize their potential.
Assistant Director, Center for School Change