What is dual credit?
The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board defines dual credit as a process by which a high school junior or senior enrolls in a college course and receives simultaneous academic credit for the course from both the college and the high school. While dual credit courses are often taught on the secondary school campus to high school students only, a high school student can also take a course on the college campus and receive both high school and college credit. Dual credit courses include both academic courses as well as technical courses. These courses are stepping stones from high school to college, serving as a path to academic degree programs or college-level workforce education courses.
What are some positive outcomes of dual credit?
There are numerous advantages for both the student and the state in regards to dual credit. A few possible advantages include:
How are dual credit courses funded for high schools and colleges?
State law allows both school districts and colleges to obtain state funding for dual credit courses. The state funds school districts based on students' average daily attendance and districts can count time spent on dual credit towards student attendance. Colleges receive state formula funding for contact or credit hours of instruction.
Who pays the cost of dual credit courses?
Decisions about who pays tuition, fees and other costs for dual credit are made at the local level, and it varies from district to district. Some school districts pay for the students, either out of local funds or from their high school allotment, while other districts require the students and parents to pay out of pocket for these courses. Either case may negatively impact the participation levels. For example, if the school district uses local funds to fund dual credit, participation is likely to end when resources are tight. Poor and/or rural school districts that have a low tax base will be the least likely to afford this expense, as will students who come from low and moderate income families. Public institutions of higher education are allowed to waive all, part, or none of the mandatory tuition and fees for dual credit courses (Texas Education Code, Sec. 54.216). In practice, surveys conducted by Coordinating Board staff indicate that most community colleges waive all or part of the cost, while relatively few universities offer waivers. As participation numbers grow and the cost of courses increases, institutions may reduce or eliminate the waiver.
Who pays for textbooks?
Texas has no state mandate to require school districts or colleges to pay for dual credit textbooks used in dual credit courses, which may cost as much as $250 per book. In most cases this expense falls on the student and causes a significant barrier to enrollment, especially in low-income households. Colleges have no source of funds dedicated to paying for textbooks, so they are highly unlikely to do so. School districts have no statutory authority to use textbook funds for dual credit courses, so other local funds have to be committed, such as foundation school funds or the high school allotment. This cost will become prohibitive as book prices increase and more students participate. Also, many school districts are reluctant to purchase college textbooks that are changed much more frequently than high school textbooks.
Is a district required to offer high school credit for college courses?
No. However, college-readiness legislation passed in 2006 includes provisions that require all school districts to implement a program by the fall of 2008 in which students will be able to earn the equivalent of 12 hours of college credit while in high school (TEC Sec. 28.009). These requirements may be met by offering dual credit for college courses, advanced technical courses, Advanced Placement courses, and/or International Baccalaureate courses.
What does Texas law require of colleges regarding dual credit?
On request, public institutions of higher education in this state are required to assist a school district in developing and implementing a program designed to provide students with the opportunity to earn the equivalent of 12 hours of college credit while in high school (TEC Sec. 28.009). High schools and colleges can collaborate in efforts that support dual credit programs. High schools can allow their instructors to teach for a local college in order to offer dual credit courses. Similarly colleges can assist with scholarships, transfer agreements for designated courses, course design, instructor training and support, and testing that ensures adequate rigor and student knowledge.
What are the eligibility requirements for students?
A high school student is eligible to enroll in dual credit courses if:
What are the course requirements for dual credit classes?
Courses offered for dual credit by public two-year colleges must be identified as college level academic courses in the current edition of the Lower Division Academic Course Guide Manual adopted by the Coordinating Board, or as college-level workforce education courses in the current edition of the Workforce Education Course Manual adopted by the Coordinating Board. Courses offered for dual credit by public universities must be in the approved undergraduate course inventory of the university. Public colleges and universities may not offer remedial and developmental courses for dual credit.
How can the transferability and rigor of dual credit courses be evaluated and improved?
When choosing which courses to take as dual credit, the best option for students is to choose courses that fit into the core curriculum of the college or university offering the dual credit program. Courses that fulfill the core curriculum of a public college or university are guaranteed to transfer to any other public college or university in Texas by state law. The Coordinating Board staff is exploring ways to work with the faculty who teach dual credit courses in order to refine the learning objectives for these courses. The aim of this project is to establish statewide consensus about the learning objectives of these widely transferred courses. Clear and consistent learning objectives for dual credit courses would help improve their consistency and the degree to which they prepare students for subsequent course work, and increase the likelihood that institutions of higher education will accept these courses in transfer and apply them to degree requirements. Ensuring that dual credit courses are taught at the college level is also important in that dual credit courses may be given additional weight in the calculation of a student's high school grade point average, equal to that of an Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate course.