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Many states offer concurrent enrollment, also known as Dual Enrollment (DE) to high school juniors and seniors. This consists of the school district paying tuition for a set number of college hours each semester as long as the student meets the district’s GPA and graduation track requirements. These college hours count towards high school graduation credits along with college credit. It’s a fantastic program for those who can take advantage of it. But remember, state law is the minimum requirement for districts. Each school district can add to those requirements as it sees fit.
I can only speak for Oklahoma, but here’s a situation that I ran into recently.
Owning a school and choosing to not be accredited requires me to stay on my toes as far as Oklahoma law pertains to education. I try very hard to keep up to date on district policy as well. When parents enroll their students with me I want to be able to plan for the big picture, which means that students will eventually move into one school district or another. I have students go into public and private schools for their high school careers, and I want to make that transition as easy as possible for everyone involved when the time comes.
Having said this I was having a discussion with a family from ten years ago of whom I still keep in touch with. I taught their kids for several years. The time came for them to move on. The family chose a private, accredited school for their children to finish out their school careers. We were discussing concurrent enrollment and how it works. I have two older boys of my own who had gone through concurrent enrollment successfully, my oldest being able to finish his freshman year of college as he graduated high school. It was definitely a struggle to get him enrolled seeing as how the high school counselors pushed Pre-AP and AP classes, but knew very little about concurrent enrollment. I had educated myself on this matter, even contacting the state department of education as needed and meeting with the district’s secondary superintendent. It is amazing how little the district employees wanted to push concurrent enrollment, since the district would have to pay for the tuition, instead of the district RECEIVING funding. Once I recited state law and district policy, gave them the name of the forms needed and refused to drop the matter, I was able to get my son enrolled with the district paying for the tuition. You bet I kept all of my documentation and bookmarked the websites and policies so I could help other families when the time came.
As I explained the way concurrent enrollment worked and listed off what they needed to ask the counselor, I went ahead and pulled up the current school’s online handbook. As we were searching for the school’s policies for concurrent enrollment we came across several ‘rules’ that left all of us speechless.
Now remember that this family is paying a nice price each month for two children to attend this school. In Oklahoma it is a state law that all high school juniors and seniors have the OPPORTUNITY to enroll concurrently as long as certain requirements are met and maintained. But also remember that each district can ‘enhance’ the state law. This private school chose to make any student who pursued concurrent enrollment ineligible to be chosen as a salutatorian or valedictorian (even with meeting GPA requirements) AND students who chose concurrent enrollment could not hold a class office. The parents were shocked that these regulations would come from a school that they were PAYING for, since they assumed that private schools would want students to advance.
Another thing that many parents in Oklahoma don’t realize is that the weighted GPA from Pre-AP and AP classes isn’t recognized by universities in Oklahoma. Counselors don’t reveal that either, since it would hinder funding for the district. So if a student isn’t definitely the type who can master the amount of work a Pre-AP or AP class demands, taking the class could potentially hurt the student’s GPA which in turn could ruin the possibility of scholarships.
Teachers need to be aware of the different policies of their school districts when it comes to helping students plan for college. We need to be helping our students and parents as much as possible when preparing them for higher education. Just as patients listen to the advice of their doctors, parents and students just assume that what schools tell them, or don’t mention, is in the best interest of everyone involved. This isn’t always the case. We need to be able to point students in the best direction for success.
Does your district offer concurrent enrollment? Are you aware of the policies?