Recently, Judith Wahrman, Ph.D., director of graduate outreach and partnerships in the College of Education, was invited by the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Ohio (AICUO) to testify in the Ohio Senate regarding HB 59 and the College Credit Plus Initiative.
That specific portion of the bill spoke to the post-secondary enrollment options (PSEO)/dual enrollment programs, which allow high school students to enroll in college courses to receive both high school and college credit. The bill would combine and reform the current PSEO and dual enrollment programs. It addressed program quality and proposed a change in the way institutions are reimbursed for students who participate, ideally moving toward a more equitable situation for public and private schools that offer the programs.
The University of Findlay’s University-School Articulation (UF-USA) program (UF’s PSEO program) works with 49 school districts and 127 high school teachers to offer 17 different college courses. More than 12,000 high school students have obtained college credit since the program began in 1999.
Wahrman spoke to members of the Ohio Senate about the quality of the programs offered at institutions like UF.
Although UF is not the only University to offer a dual enrollment program, Findlay is one of only two schools in Ohio to be nationally accredited by the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships (NACEP). Only 89 schools in the nation meet the NACEP’s National Concurrent Enrollment Partnership Standards.
To obtain NACEP accreditation, programs undergo an extensive self-study, carefully document how the program adheres to NACEP’s standards, and present that documentation to experienced peer reviewers from NACEP-accredited programs.
By pursuing this accreditation, the University demonstrates its commitment to providing quality education for the high school students enrolled in the UF-USA program. It not only is important to maintain the academic reputation of the University but also to prepare students for when they transfer those courses to college after graduating from high school.
High school teachers at participating schools submit applications to participate. Once selected, they are required to come to campus for training each summer. If a teacher does not have a master’s degree in the relevant content area, that teacher must complete 18 credit hours in that content area within five years.
The University works to make sure that each course offered at participating high schools meets the same academic quality and rigor that the students would experience when taking a class on campus from a UF faculty member. Both the high school teachers and UF professors follow the same reporting and assessment procedures.
Christine Denecker, Ph.D., associate professor of English and NACEP reviewer, works closely with the high school teachers who teach English 104, College Writing 1. When they first enter the program, they come to campus for an intensive one-week course. Throughout the year, they remain in contact through email, a fall and summer campus visit and even Skype.
“During the academic year, we get sample work from the high school students, and we get the chance to see how their teachers have commented on the work,” said Denecker. “We calibrate our grading and talk about what we’re doing in the classroom. We discuss pitfalls and strengths … At the end of the semester, the students go through portfolio review just like traditional UF students. It really is the same course; that’s one of the things that makes us stand out from other institutions offering post-secondary options.”
“It’s been a wonderful experience,” Denecker added. “One of the hidden benefits of dual enrollment is that when you do it the right way, which The University of Findlay does, you have a lot of interaction between faculty members and the high school teachers … We’ve been able to share resources, ideas and more.”
The high school students who participate are required to meet academic standards before being accepted into the program, much like applicants to the University.