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Dual-credit programs on the rise.

Byline: staff report

SPRINGFIELD u Students in high schools across the state are earning college credit and saving money thanks to a push by the community college system to increase access to dual credit opportunities. Over the last five years, enrollment in community college dual credit courses has increased over 16 percent. In the last year alone, over 57,000 high school student were enrolled in 11,000 dual-credit courses.

Dual-credit programs allow academically qualified high school students to explore various academic areas and experience the rigor of college-level coursework. Upon successful course completion, students earn both high school and college credit. In acknowledgment of this valuable educational opportunity, the Illinois Senate recently declared March 18 to 24 as "Dual Credit Week."

"The community college system has long been a leader in the development and expansion of dual-credit programs. The steady rise in dual-credit enrollment reflects an understanding among secondary and postsecondary educators that early college experience is an integral part of preparing students for college and career success," said Dr. Karen Hunter Anderson, executive director of the Illinois Community College Board (ICCB).

Scott Wernsman, Director of Dual Credit and Partnerships at John A. Logan College, said Logan's program is nationally accredited through the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships (NACEP). It is only the second college in Illinois to receive this distinction.

"Dual credit and dual enrollment is an excellent opportunity for high school students to get a jump start on their college careers," Wernsman said. "If a student is able to complete 15 college credits before they graduate high school, they will more than double their likelihood to graduate with an Associate's degree or certificate."

Wernsman added that 1,249 in-district students are participating in dual credit/dual enrollment at the college. Moreover, students have enrolled in over 9,100 credit hours for the current academic year.

Over the past five years, the ICCB has provided nearly $1 million to community colleges through the Dual-Credit Enhancement Grant to support the development, enhanced delivery, and articulation of local dual credit programs and to expand student access. These grant dollars have allowed colleges to implement new dual credit offerings and utilize innovative instructional models including distance learning and competency-based education.

"The grants reflect the Board's commitment to strengthen the pathway for students from high school into college," said Anderson. "As we look ahead to the future, the Board is focused on expanding dual-credit opportunities especially in rural and other underserved areas of the state."

As the third-largest community college system in the country and the leading public workforce development trainer in the state, Illinois community colleges serve over 600,000 residents each year in credit, noncredit, and continuing education courses. Illinois is home to 48 colleges in 39 community college districts which provide high quality, accessible, cost-effective educational opportunities to the entire state. The Illinois Community College Board is the state coordinating board for community colleges and has statutory responsibility for administering state and federal grants to community college districts and adult education providers and managing high school equivalency testing for Illinois.
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Publication:Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Date:Mar 23, 2018
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