Dean: New ‘dual’ models make no sense

Once upon a time, high achievers would take classes at a nearby college while finishing high school. Now “dual enrollment” is being pushed for all students — and sometimes especially for low achievers. That makes no sense, writes Community College Dean.

If some high school sophomore has already blasted through BC Calculus and is itching for more, I’m happy to offer a seat in our upper-level calculus sequence. The math department loves those students, and I don’t see much social purpose served in having them just circle the airport for the last year or two of high school.

But average students aren’t prepared for college work after sophomore year. Many high school graduates aren’t prepared.

Given that, it seems to me that beefing up the academic content of the last two years of high school is the obvious fix. When the students run out of AP classes their junior year, then talk to me about mass-scale dual enrollment. Until then, I don’t see it.

The third version of dual enrollment, pushed by the Gates Foundation, is supposed to prevent dropouts by motivating weak students. If they can’t handle high school work, the dean doesn’t think they can handle college classes. And if they’re placed in college remedial classes, where they belong, they won’t develop “a new peer group with new expectations.”

Community colleges are colleges. I understand the temptation to try to be everything to everyone, but at the end of the day, they serve the community best by being colleges. If the high schools need fixing, then the high schools need fixing.

In some cases, dual-enrollment students take classes at their high school taught by a college instructor or by a high school teacher following the college syllabus. Are these really college-level classes? I have my doubts.

Community College Times looks at the early college model in Florida, which is geared to high achievers.

“Early College has really helped me to prepare for what colleges would expect me to do,” said Anish Khanorkar, a high school sophomore enrolled in the Early College Program at Seminole State College of Florida (SSCF). A future surgeon, the 15-year-old has worked on a year-long research project in biology at the community college.

New legislation in Washington state will expand opportunities for high school students to earn college credits, reports P-20 Blog.


POSTED BY Joanne Jacobs ON May 10, 2011

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