Rigor of Dual Credit Courses Questioned

Rigor of Dual Credit Courses Questioned

Texas dual credit classes have more than tripled over the last decade. As reported here before, many educators are questioning whether these classes have the same content and rigor as college-level classes. 

The chorus of criticism intensifies. Please read this important article by Katherine Mangan, in the Chronicle of Higher Education, which focuses on the situation in Texas. Among the quoted voices of concern is Commissioner of Higher Education Raymund Paredes and Bill Hammond, CEO of the Texas Association of Business. 

An incidental impact of the growth in dual credit classes is the reduction in enrollment of core introductory courses, such as history and psychology, since so many freshmen have already taken and passed these courses before they arrive on a college or university campus. The situation is so troublesome that the American Historical Association has raised concerns. 

Texas has regulations designed to insure quality, but these rules are difficult to monitor, much less enforce, the article reports. High school teachers now teach the majority of dual credit classes in many school systems, and these individuals have become "deputized" college teachers, the article says. The piece also reports that high school teachers are pressured to pass students, to give them college credits. 

Texas has a reputation for many things—some good, some not so much. If policy makers don't find a way to insure quality and rigor in dual credit courses, the transcripts of all our college and university students will diminish in value. 

From the CHE piece:

Economic incentives have helped spur the overwhelming demand. Increasingly, community colleges rely on high-school students to bring in state money that’s appropriated based on contact hours taught. Nationwide, enrollment in two-year colleges has been slipping for several years, in part because of the improving economy. And high-school students who are eager to save money by earning college credits early are an easy-to-tap market.

The rapid acceleration worries even some of dual enrollment’s most ardent supporters.

"If we continue to expand enrollment, we are going to admit students into these courses who aren’t ready for college," says Texas’ higher-education commissioner, Raymund A. Paredes. If that happens, he says, "rigor will be diminished, these will not be legitimate college courses, and colleges will stop accepting credit from these courses."