Dual-credit classes, college-level courses that enable high school students to earn college and high school credits simultaneously, are in the sights of the Texas Legislature.
Temple College President Glenda Barron told the TC board of trustees that dual credits are going to be on the 86th Texas Legislature’s agenda.
“There are going to be bills filed related to dual credits, and there’s been a notion by some legislators that every college in the state should do dual credits the same way,” Barron said.
“Some lawmakers believe that if some colleges give it (dual credit) away free then everybody should give it away free,” she said.
Using information from multiple sources, Barron walked the board through the elements that make up dual credit and its impact on TC.
In fall 2000, 17,784 students in Texas were enrolled in dual credit. In fall 2017, 151,669 students were enrolled in dual credit.
“That’s an amazing change in that period of time,” she said.
Fifteen percent of dual-credit courses are career and technical education, Barron said. The other 85 percent are academic transfer classes.
Ninety-three percent of all dual-credit enrollment is at community colleges, with 19.4 percent of all enrollment at community and technical colleges being dual credit.
There are a number of ways Texas community colleges charge for dual credit, she said.
Eleven districts waive all tuition and fees.
These districts are the big districts whose taxing districts and service areas are a perfect match; Dallas County, Tarrant County, Collin County are examples, Barron said.
TC couldn’t afford to waive dual credit tuition and fees, she said.
“We can’t. The big guys can do it because they have tax bases that are huge,” Barron said. “By comparison, TC’s tax base is miniscule, yet it has 16 school districts in its service area.”
Twenty-five districts do some form of partial waiver or flat fee.
Three districts waive tuition and fees for certain populations.
McLennan Community College handles dual-credit fees using a sliding scale based on if the student qualifies for free and reduced lunch.
Five districts offer partial or total waivers, depending on locations.
Six districts do not offer waivers at all.
In fall 2018, 1,043 students were regular dual credit and represented 24 percent of TC’s head count and 17 percent of contact hours.
Temple College offers dual credit both on the TC campus and at the high schools.
Area high schools that have dual-credit classes are Temple, Belton, Salado, Cameron, Troy, Academy and Hutto. Dual credits also are offered at Texas Bioscience Institute, Taylor Center, Hutto Center and the TC main campus.
The dual-credit classes are predominately taught face-to-face, but some are a hybrid mode or online.
Most of the teachers are primarily employed by TC, while nine are qualified high school teachers who teach for TC at the high school locations. The teachers all have master’s degrees and have to be acceptable to the division and department heads to teach at the college.
TC pays the school districts per dual-credit student; the school district uses those funds how they see fit, Barron said.
Some of the courses require laboratories and specialized equipment.
“The difficulty we have is that not many of the high schools have laboratory setups that are adequate for us to teach sciences,” she said.
TC has dual-credit faculty who teach at multiple locations, Barron said. Some may start at Troy, end up at Salado and go on to finish their day in Taylor.
Some large community colleges have dedicated counselors at the high schools they serve; TC does not, she said.
The director of dual credit at TC will serve as a counselor as needed and requested, Barron said.
The Texas Association of Community Colleges is establishing a state goal for dual credit — by 2030 no less than 30 percent of high school graduates will have earned at least 12 semester credit hours in dual credit.
Also, the association wants to establish a state task force to include the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, Texas Education Agency and the Texas Workforce Commission and stakeholders from K-12 and higher education to be part of the sounding board for anything related to dual credit before it gets to the Legislature and is enacted.
The Texas Association of Community Colleges wants high school students who have completed 12 credit hours in core academic subjects to declare a major or a career path.
Another effort is to expand student eligibility for the Texas Educational Opportunity Grant which would help students pay for dual-credit courses.
“Part of the discrepancy when we look at dual credit is that some students don’t participate because they can’t afford it,” Barron said. “This would give them an opportunity to participate.”
The number of students who participate in dual-credit courses can be influenced by the high school they attend. Some schools will press their students to participate in International Baccalaureate classes ahead of dual credit, Mark Smith, vice president of educational services, said.