New dual credit teacher standards could cost families thousands

BLUFFTON, Ind. (WANE) It’s one of the most significant changes to sweep across Hoosier high schools in recent years and it could cost your family thousands of dollars.

It’s a new set of standards for dual credit teachers.

Currently, 10 school corporations in and around the Fort Wayne area offer more than 250 dual credit courses to more than 4,000 students. Nearly 200 teachers are qualified to teach those courses, but new standards are slashing that number to just a handful.

“Big schools, small schools, rural, urban it really doesn’t matter,” Bluffton High School principal Steve Baker said. “We’ve found that all of them are going to be hurt by that.”

It’s a blow Baker said no one saw coming. Starting next September teachers must have a Master’s Degree in their field of study or a Master’s in Education plus 18 graduate credits in their field of study. Of the 12 dual credit teachers at Bluffton High School only one has a master’s degree in their field of study. That teacher would be the only one to meet the new credentials set by the Higher Learning Commission, a governing group that oversees higher education institutes in 19 states, including Indiana.

“I would think for parents this would be a very important issue that they should be aware of and know that if this rule goes into effect it would cost parents thousands of dollars because we will no longer to offer all of the dual credit courses we’re offering now,” Baker said.

For example, if a high school student took all of the 18 courses Bluffton offers through IPFW it would cost about $1,200. Compare that to more than $7,600 at IPFW. That’s an average savings of $6,500. If the student takes Ivy Tech dual credit courses it’s free. Southwest Allen County’s 1,600 students taking the courses saved nearly $3 million on tuition alone last year, and many times students graduate early which leads to more savings. However, under the new standards the majority of the courses will be cut because there won’t be a qualified teacher.

It’s not just about the money. The courses also factor into a school’s overall grade assigned by the state.

“Thirty percent of our high school grade is based upon college and career readiness for students, 30 percent of our grade, and much of that has to do with dual credit offerings,” Baker said.

Baker said he thinks the changes will only have a negative impact on students, teachers and schools across the state. It’s also a blow to the programs corporations have developed over the years.

“In Indiana all high schools must offer at least one dual credit class, so we’ve done that and more and we feel the rugs being pulled out from underneath us when we’ve built programs around our dual credit offerings,” Baker said.

In a perfect world, Baker said the program would stay and all 12 of his teachers will still be able to teach the 18 courses offered at Bluffton High School.

“I would love to see them keep it exactly as it is. We’ve heard no criticism coming from any university that our dual credit students are not doing well in college. We’re hearing exactly the opposite,” Baker said.

While most school districts across the state are upset over this issue, getting the rules changed won’t be easy. That’s because the state of Indiana really doesn’t have a big say in it.

A Dual Credit Advisory Council, which is co-chaired by State Schools Superintendent Glenda Ritz, is scheduled to meet in Indianapolis Tuesday. Members of the group will talk about the issue and perhaps make a recommendation, but they’re actually the low men on the totem pole. That’s because that group actually reports to the Indiana Commission for Higher Education. That 14 member body helps oversee Indiana’s college and universities. The only entity that has the power to change the standards is the one that set them. That’s the Higher Learning Commission which oversees colleges and universities in 19 states.

 

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