Representatives from Tennessee’s community colleges gathered Tuesday at Cleveland State to discuss the new developments.
Cathy Day, Tennessee Department of Education executive director of postsecondary coordination and alignment career and technical education, led the presentation.
“Dual credit in Tennessee is not dual enrollment,” Day said. “It is simply the high school course a student is tested on to see if they have mastered the material.”
Dual enrollment is the simultaneous enrollment of a student at a high school and college or university. Credits earned through dual enrollment can often be transferred to another institution. Hours gained through a dual credit system are only good for the higher education institution partnering with the high school. Students cannot apply the credits to another school.
Day said the state is looking to make the dual credit system beneficial for students state-wide.
Changes are being made under the Public Chapter 967 of the Public Acts of 2012 which altered requirements expected of the Consortium for Cooperative Innovative Education. The consortium was challenged to increase postsecondary opportunities for high school students. Specifically, according to PC 967, the development and pilot implementation of statewide dual credit assessments.
These assessments would be recognized and accepted by Tennessee’s public postsecondary institutions.
Day said four courses are a part of the first phase of the pilot: college algebra; agribusiness/agriculture business finance; introduction to ornamental horticulture/greenhouse management; and introduction to agriculture leadership/leadership communications.
Six additional courses will be added for the 2014-15 school year: art appreciation, health informatics, introduction to criminal justice, introduction to sociology, pre-calculus and world history.
The Tennessee Technology Centers are aiding Day’s office in establishing statewide articulation agreements. According to Tennessee.gov, these articulation agreements are based on industry certifications.
A statewide assessment would theoretically allow students from any high school taking an approved dual credit course to apply the credits at any postsecondary institution.
Day reiterated the dual credit courses were not meant to take the place of dual enrollment courses. She said the dual credit courses were originally thought up to cut around the costs of AP courses on students. According to Day, there are still a number of reasons students should seek out dual enrollment opportunities.
“[Dual enrollment] is the best experience ... the student is exposed to a college faculty. The student is responsible to turn in their college assignments. They learn to upload papers,” Day said. “They just learn a lot of things that help them in their freshman year.”
She said she highly encouraged dual enrollment.
Dr. Robert Denn, Chattanooga State dean of school relations and university articulation, followed Day to discuss the Seamless Alignment and Integrated Learning Support program, or SAILS.
“We use a blended learning model were the students are working online, but they are facilitated with support by the high school faculty members,” Denn said. “These students in the program are in the Bridge Math course.”
Bridge Math seeks to prepare students for college math. Denn said college and high school math teachers work together to deliver the blended learning environment. Proponents of SAILS believe technology, individual assistance and the course curriculum will aid students struggling in math.
Students are selected for Bridge Math courses according to the ACT. Those who score less than a 19 their junior year are automatically placed in the course their senior year. The course is based on the Tennessee Board of Regents’ Learning Support Math program.
Denn said the SAILS program will impact 8,710 students throughout Tennessee and 1,291 students in Cleveland for the 2013-14 school year.
“Our goal is to offer SAILS to any student in Tennessee who needs it,” Denn said. “So yes, my goal is to do away with learning support at community colleges. ... Think how much more revenue you are going to generate, if these students take college level math and then stay with you to get their degree.”
More information on the SAILS program can be found at chattanoogastate.edu.