Indiana Increases Dual-Credit Classes

Published September 14, 2010

Indiana school administrators say families could save at least $10 million in college tuition costs, following a 27 percent increase in dual-credit enrollment last year as more high school students take tougher classes to save time and money in college.

Indiana’s department of education is in the first year of a three-year initiative to redesign its college-level career and technical offerings.

The state is expanding “a career pathway that will transition students from two years of study in high school where they’d typically earn 18-24 college credits, then transition into that program at our institution and maybe finish it in a year,” explained John Newby, assistant vice provost for K-12 Initiatives at Ivy Tech Community College. Ivy Tech is the system of community colleges that works with local teachers to form and accredit these classes.?

College Credit, No Expense

Dual-credit classes must meet college standards for content, materials, and testing. Like Advanced Placement classes, they count toward both a high school and a college diploma.

Of 316,000 Indiana high school students last year, 21,126 took dual-credit classes, according to state records. They earned more than 100,000 college credit hours. ?

“With young people today, everything happens at such a fast pace that to give them this head start on college is a benefit, and they see it that way,” said Cindy Frey, assistant director of the Walker Career Center in Indianapolis, which enrolled 712 dual-credit students last year. “The teachers think it’s just a no-brainer, because it’s what they’re teaching anyway.”

“For parents, any time a student can get college credit at no expense, oh yeah,” she enthused.?

New State Requirements

Taxpayers already pay for public and charter schools, and Ivy Tech is a publicly funded community college. This partnership thus saves time and money, Newby says, because students needn’t take the same class twice to progress toward a college diploma. ?

Indiana last year began requiring all of its 390 public high schools to offer at least two dual-credit classes to students pursuing one of two honors diplomas the state offers.

The more than 80 currently available classes vary from technical offerings such as mechanics, computer-aided design, and pre-engineering, to courses such as economics and literature. Public, charter, and even state-accredited private schools may offer the classes through Ivy Tech.  ?

“The intent of the state is to make sure that when our children graduate from high school they’re actually prepared for college,” said Leslie Hiner, vice president of programs and state relations for the Foundation for Educational Choice and board chairman of Irvington Community School, an Indiana charter school.
“Remediation rates across the country have skyrocketed over the years, and Indiana is no exception. It’s a terrible additional burden on taxpayers to essentially pay twice to educate student,” she said. “So by offering dual credits and more opportunities for advanced placement classes in high school, it’s proving to be an excellent way to fully prepare students for college.”

Joy Pavelski ([email protected]) writes from Washington, DC.