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UT System and Texas Association of Community Colleges task force recommends improved coordination, accessibility for dual credit courses
AUSTIN — A statewide task force today released recommendations for how Texas can better address the opportunities and challenges that have resulted from the rapid growth of dual credit programs throughout the state.
The Texas Dual Credit Task Force was convened by The University of Texas System and the Texas Association of Community Colleges (TACC) to bring together stakeholders to assess the landscape, examine data, and develop policy and practice solutions. The task force’s findings and recommendations were issued in a report entitled Dual Credit: Where College Meets High School.
Across Texas, more and more high school students are enrolling in dual credit courses to simultaneously earn high school and college credit. The Texas Legislature, along with institutions of higher education and K-12 school districts, have been encouraging greater participation in dual credit enrollment as a way to make higher education more accessible for all students, particularly given the state’s changing demographics and workforce needs.
In addition, dual enrollment is seen as critical to achieving the goals of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board’s 60x30TX plan, which calls for at least 60 percent of Texans ages 25-34 to have a certificate or degree by 2030.
While there are many advantages, there are variances in how dual credit programs are currently offered across the state. Differences in availability and cost of the programs, along with variations in how well the courses transfer to meet degree or certification requirements, have caused some to question the rapid growth of dual credit programs statewide.
The report’s foundational recommendation is to create a statewide dual credit advisory committee made up of K-12, higher education and workforce stakeholders to provide enhanced coordination, cohesion and communication. The committee would oversee implementation of recommendations supporting three areas identified as needing improvement to ensure the growth of quality dual credit programs in Texas and better position more students for success in college.
The three areas are: (1) addressing inequities in who has access to dual credit programs and the quality of the courses offered, (2) understanding differences in how the courses are funded and who is bearing the cost, and (3) addressing a lack of consistency and communications regarding transfers of credit, program requirements and other issues related to alignment within the education pipeline.
Specifically, the report recommends the following:
- Create equity goals to address dual enrollment access, eligibility, enrollment and participation gaps among identified student populations and geographic areas;
- Share Higher Education Coordinating Board and Texas Education Agency data to help school districts and higher education institutions better identify and measure gaps in opportunity and achievement;
- Provide incentives to higher education institutions to use open educational resources that would eliminate or reduce the cost of college textbooks;
- Request that the Texas Legislature create a need-based grant program to provide financial aid to eligible students enrolled in dual credit programs;
- Increase funding and direction for Career and Technical Education (CTE) to support and align the use of dual credit courses to meet CTE endorsements as well as academic transfer courses and career/technical program courses;
- Develop resources for counselors, students and families that clearly communicate the costs and benefits of participating in dual credit programming; and
- Require colleges to advise dual credit students of the courses needed to complete their degree or certification in the most timely and affordable manner, including information on which courses will transfer to a university.
Co-chaired by Wanda Mercer, UT System associate vice chancellor for student affairs, and Jacob Fraire, president and CEO of the Texas Association of Community Colleges, the task force included participation from school districts, community colleges, universities and university systems, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, the Texas Education Agency (TEA), the Texas Workforce Commission, Educate Texas and several other statewide organizations.
“Having all the dual credit stakeholders seated at one table led to truly constructive dialogue,” Mercer said. “While there were many challenging and complex issues to address, the task force members drew upon research, along with their understanding and experience, to develop valid recommendations for the report.”
Moving forward, the report is intended to inform policy discussions of the Legislature, as well as educational decisions being made across the state by stakeholders from multiple sectors, including state agencies, high schools and districts, and community colleges, universities and systems of higher education.
“Community colleges proudly offer 93 percent of dual credit in Texas, and as we look forward, we believe access to dual credit should be broadened while quality is sustained,” Fraire said. “TACC hopes this comprehensive report inspires a robust conversation with policy partners about the future of dual credit in Texas and how the inclusive nature of earning college credit while in high school creates dividends for students, families and the Texas economy for decades to come.”
About The University of Texas System
Educating students, providing care for patients, conducting groundbreaking basic, applied and clinical research, and serving the needs of Texans and the nation for more than 130 years, The University of Texas System is one of the largest public university systems in the United States. With 14 institutions and a projected enrollment of more than 234,000 students, the UT System confers more than one-third of the state’s undergraduate degrees, educates approximately two-thirds of the state’s health care professionals annually and accounts for almost 70 percent of all research funds awarded to public institutions in Texas. The UT System’s operating budget for FY 2018 is $18.3 billion, funded in part by $3.6 billion in sponsored programs from federal, state, local and private sources. With more than 20,000 faculty – including Nobel laureates and members of the National Academies – and nearly 80,000 health care professionals, researchers, student advisors and support staff, the UT System is one of the largest employers in the state.