A shortage of qualified teachers has troubled some popular dual-credit enrollment programs in rural areas, after a regional accreditor issued clarification that dual-credit instructors must possess a master's degree or a minimum of 18 graduate-level credit hours in their teaching specialty, reports Inside Higher Ed. The standard applies to thousands of instructors in 19 states under the Higher Learning Commission’s jurisdiction.
Some colleges are scrambling to recruit or train teachers who meet the standard, bringing greater attention to instructor pipelines, lack of resources and data issues for some states and colleges. Some states, including, Ohio, Illinois and Iowa, have similar qualification standards, but colleges in rural parts of other states have pursued a deadline extension for compliance.
Educators say it’s tough to recruit high school teachers qualified to instruct college level courses. Secondly, without more funding for rural school districts, schools can’t offer competitive salaries to retain teachers who meet the qualifications.
Dual-enrollment program partnerships between high schools and colleges allow high school students to earn college credit for courses that also count toward their high school graduation, and many school districts and college officials believe dual-enrollment programs are an effective mechanism for improving college enrollment and completion.
Students exposed to college coursework in high school may have an easier time transitioning to college. For students who need extra preparation before attending college, there is some evidence that dual-enrollment programs might reduce the need for remedial education. Research also has shown that such programs have a positive impact on high achievers and middle achievers as well.
Signaling their importance, Virginia state Republican lawmakers last year introduced a bill to ensure dual-course credits transfer to any public college in the state. By increasing the possibility that students can smoothly transition to college and complete a degree, dual-enrollment programs could help reduce the costs associated with student support services. Institutions and high schools can also mutually benefit from increased engagement, helping each other strengthen curriculums and student success.