Last week, the Loudoun County public school’s website posted a link to a page with an explanation of what dual enrollment is. According to this website, grades that students receive taking these high school courses will be grades on their college transcript. College courses, therefore, are considered the beginning of their college transcript.
In other words, if a student passes a dual-enrollment course, he or she will get credit toward a college degree. However, a report published by Virginia’s Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission in 2017, clarifies this situation. According to this report, there are particular dual enrollment courses that give students such opportunities, but it doesn’t work with all of them. Now many students who were told that dual enrollment has numerous advantages over International Baccalaureate and Advanced Placement, are confused. The thing is that they can get credit passing courses sponsored by colleges, and this credit is taken into account only by these colleges.
According to Loudoun County schools spokesman Wayde Byard, all dual-enrollment courses available in this district assure credit at Northern Virginia Community College. This is not what many people consider college credit, because it doesn’t mean credit toward a four-year degree. Academic departments of colleges are now deciding which two-year credits to accept in the future.
We didn’t find mentioning of this fact on another Loudoun school’s website. It says that they guarantee dual-enrollment credit and a college transcript. Such promises are also repeated several times in their PowerPoint presentation. One must read 13 pages to finally find a warning that transfer depends on four-year schools and not all credits are equal, in fact, this means that there is no guarantee you will get credit for your efforts.
The Executive Director of the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships Adam Lowe states that there are 2.3 million students who are taking dual-enrollment courses. Comparing to the previous year, the number of these students grew by 7%. Thus, parents and students really need to learn more about these courses.
Some officials notice that the popularity of such courses in different schools varies. The authors of the Virginia report interviewed officials at 16 colleges. They noticed that it was hard to ensure the quality of dual-enrollment courses. Many high schools have chosen to blend courses so that those who take dual-enrollment courses and other students can take the same courses. According to the report, these are rather bad conditions for maintaining college rigor.
The state provides guidelines for those who are going to teach dual-enrollment classes in order for them to ensure college credits. These teachers must hold a graduate degree in the subject, or at least a graduate degree in any field and 18 graduate credits in their subject. Most of the high school teachers don’t meet these requirements.
Thus, community colleges have created various dual-enrollment courses that don’t offer any credits at the sponsoring college. They just teach subjects that are the most popular among high school students, increasing revenues for colleges.
Northern Virginia Community College is focused on monitoring Loudoun’s dual-enrollment courses. According to their information, teachers in their district have all required credentials, and there are no blended classes.
Given that college departments have different rules, there is a chance that students who have good IB and AP test scores also won’t receive credit. However, IB and AP officials don’t promote credits. Unlike many dual-enrollment courses, they also have difficult final exams which are created and graded by independent experts. Many AP teachers who have experience in teaching dual enrollment noticed considerably lower standards.
After Loudoun school officials received a copy of this article, they changed the mentioned statement on their website. Now it says that the number of credits that students earn depends on a university or college.
Dual enrollment is developing constantly, and it grows fast, so such a decision is rather a good move. School districts must realize how important it is to provide college students with relevant information on what college credits are.