When the Legislature eliminated restrictions on the number of dual credit courses offered jointly by school districts and community colleges, the intention was to expand the program to enroll more students. By that standard, the strategy is clearly working, especially in the Rio Grande Valley, as reported by Danya Perez-Hernandez, in The Monitor.
However, educational leaders are expressing new concerns about rigor, educational quality, and the misdirection of financial aid with dual credit. The article addresses explosive growth at South Texas College, but you may find much in the report that rings true at your school.
Please read the entire piece for context. The article primarily describes new policies at STC to manage the spike of dual credit programs in the region.
Until the most recent statutory expansion, statistics indicated that dual credit students were more likely to graduate from high school and college than students who did not participate. However, now that the program has gone mainstream, more unprepared students are seeking college credit, often taking courses several times. Such developments can't help but affect college and university graduation rates.
Here is a key passage from the article:
“We are absolutely committed to keeping this a first-class program, the highest quality and where students are successful and we’ve got some concerns,” [South Texas College President Shirley] Reed said.
Concerns over the rigor and quality of such programs were also brought up by the commissioner of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, Raymund Paredes, during his visit to the Valley in April. His main issue with rapid growing dual-enrollment (or dual-credit) programs, he said, is being able to assess the students’ overall college readiness.
“I get concerned when I see that huge numbers of students are taking dual-credit courses and those numbers aren’t consistent with the data that we have on college readiness,” Paredes said during an interview in April.
The concerns of Commissioner Paredes mirror what you will hear from faculty members about dual credit programs around the state.
Here is some background on Texas dual credit, from the Education Commission on the States.