Many Idaho high schools are on the dual-credit bandwagon. Thinking that offering college credit makes their programs more advanced, high schools tout these credits as “honors” classes, and some schools even weight the grades, giving students a 5.0 for an “A”. However, the sparkle of “dual credit” wears off quickly when students realize the following realities:
- students must pay – often as much as $200 – to receive the college credit.
- all students in the class – whether they are paying for the credit or not – receive the weighted grade. This means that students who choose other courses, courses which are not dual-credit classes, fall out of the running for awards such as valedictorian and salutatorian, no matter what their GPA is.
- Most colleges (and ALL selective, private colleges) do NOT accept – nor do they give credit for – dual credit classes taken in high school.
Superintendent Luna’s plan includes having Idaho pay for students who are taking the classes for college credit. So let’s think about that. Our tax dollars, which we pay to support the high schools in our towns, will go instead to colleges and universities -- perhaps some which are not even in our state – to pay for credits which are of dubious value to the students in their future college years.
While such funding does not add costs to local budgets (remember that the extra money is coming from salaries of teachers who no longer teach in local schools), it is being redirected out of local coffers. Therefore, in pursuit of bragging rights to high school seniors who will graduate with college credits under their belts, Students Come First fools smart kids into taking courses which will NOT count in college, and which are, often, not as strong as the actual high school courses from real, live, high school teachers which these online “college” courses replace.
My local high school is presently offering a dual credit class in Pre Calculus. Now, as anyone who has attended college knows, Pre Calculus is a high school course, not a college course. College math starts with Calculus. Still, students in my local high school are paying for – and being told they are receiving – college credit for this class, which would be considered “remedial” in any college curriculum. The high school itself brags publicly that its offerings are challenging – merely because it offers these “dual credit” courses.
College Board AP courses, on the other hand, offered in many high schools nationwide, use local high school teachers to teach college-level curriculum to students who, upon passing the national AP exam in any course, can actually receive credit or bypass required classes at any college or university in the nation. AP courses do not deflect funds from high schools into college budgets. AP courses are created based on a national standard – all AP students take the same exam on the same day, for the same credit. There is no AP course in Pre Calculus.
Students Come First may offer an economically-efficient way to manage Idaho school budgets. However, it does not increase academic challenge with its proposed elements. From an academic perspective, Luna’s plan is about economics, not education.
Luna-cy #1: advanced technology increases learning
· Luna-cy #2: laptops help students learn
· Luna-cy #3: online credits improve education