Cost for dual-credit programs to fall on shoulders of school districts

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The Minnesota State Board of Trustees met Wednesday, November 16, to hear an update that 76 percent of all instructors who teach dual-course classes in high school do not meet requirements to have a master’s degree or qualifying credits in their field. The update basically pointed to school districts paying more for dual-credit classes and paying for teachers’ credits to get the master’s degrees or qualifying credits.

M State’s survey of teachers found that 1,400 did not meet the qualifications set by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) to teach dual-credit courses. This means they don’t have a master’s degree in their class subject they are teaching, or if they have a master’s degree (but in a different field), they don’t have 18 graduate credits in the field for which they are teaching dual-credit courses. There are 25,600 students who take some sort of dual-credit course as a high school student.

“The prospect that some schools will have to reduce concurrent enrollment offerings causes significant concern for our member schools, educators, and parents,” said MSBA Executive Director Kirk Schneidawind.

M State has applied for a five-year waiver to the HLC to give teachers until 2022 to comply. The university system expects to know within four to six weeks on whether that request will be granted. If the waiver is not granted, the requirements go into effect in 2017 and would probably devastate any College in the Schools/dual-credit programs.

A working group looking at the requirements are also considering one other option: Team teaching. In this scenario, a certified college instructor would team teach a dual-credit class with a school district instructor. Again, if this option is chosen, the cost of hiring the college instructor would fall to K-12 schools.

Education Minnesota’s Executive Director Denise Specht, who is part of the M State working group, said that their teacher union groups are being encouraged to bargain for the costs of getting teachers qualified by having school districts pay for the graduate classes. So not only would districts pay extra for lanes (teachers who advance their education by taking classes), the district would also pay for the classes to get a degree.

Trustee Jerry Janezich asked if districts were to commit to covering some of the costs, shouldn’t M State put aside some money as well. He was quickly told by Margaret Anderson Kelliher that M State is not going to put aside money for this and is not going to be asking the legislature for money to cover these costs. “This will have to be a K-12 ask of the Legislature. One that we would support, but it would be a K-12 request,” said Kelliher.

Minnesota State Chancellor Steven Rosenstone was also very adamant that schools will have to pay for increased costs to offer dual-credit programs. Universities have three years to increase the price of dual-credit courses to cover costs; two-year colleges have five years to increase the cost.

“We cannot ask our students to subsidize the costs of instruction for high school students,” Rosenstone said.

MSBA is hoping that the system’s waiver is granted, but remains concerned that all of the increasing costs for the programs and the costs for getting 1,400 teachers to meet requirements will fall solely on school districts.

“We strongly suggest that additional discussions take place to accommodate the needs of Minnesota high school teachers, students and parents,” said Schneidawind.

About mnmsba

The Minnesota School Boards Association, a leading advocate for public education, supports, promotes and strengthens the work of public school boards.
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