Public and higher education collaborate on dual enrollment program
PRINCESS ANNE, MD – (Oct. 9, 2013) The Wicomico County Board of Education held a press conference earlier this week to herald in a new era for the county’s dual enrollment program thanks to the passage of recent state legislation.
Representatives of public education, higher education, the business community and Wicomico County marked the occasion with signings of agreements to expand opportunities for high school juniors and seniors to earn high school and college credit for courses taken simultaneously at area institutions.
Dual enrollment has been available for Wicomico students for many years. The most important change Maryland’s College and Career Readiness and College Completion Act of 2013 provides for is reduced costs for students in the program and potentially free tuition for students who qualify for free and reduced meals.
The change means “having all of our students access higher education,” said Dr. John Fredericksen, superintendent of Wicomico County public schools. “Several groups are (currently) underrepresented and we want to get them engaged.”
“Studies have shown that at risk and low-income students who participate in dual enrollment are more likely to graduate from high school and complete college than non-dual enrollment students,” said Dr. Ray Hoy, president of Wor-Wic Community College, which has had a dual enrollment agreement with Wicomico County schools for many years. “Most importantly, the program builds confidence and reduces anxiety” before students leave high school and enroll in college.
High school students have taken courses at Salisbury University and UMES with permission from guidance offices, but not as part of an official dual enrollment program. Only if the course is approved and is aligned with a course currently listed in the high school catalog, would it receive high school credit.
“I think it has given me a good preview as to what college will be like,” Ashly Nowak, a Parkside High senior also enrolled at Wor-Wic, said. “It’s a different (harder) style of teaching, which definitely puts more responsibility on students.”
India Whitehead, a senior at James M. Bennett High, will have 37 credits when she graduates from high school and will enter college as a sophomore. She completed five classes as a junior and is currently taking three. It is a lesson in time management, she said. “I have my weekly schedule planned out,” said Whitehead, who takes AP and college courses while holding down two jobs and participating in SGA and her church’s youth group.
“It is a great experience for all high school students,” Whitehead said. “It prepares you for the future.”
Selected courses are aligned with high school requirements to adhere to state of Maryland standards. To be eligible, Fredericksen said, students must carry a minimum 2.75 GPA and take the required number of credits at the high school—four credits, one of which must be earned at the high school. Students apply for dual enrollment through the high school guidance office and also must apply for admission through the institution of higher education.
“The scope of opportunity is broad,” Fredericksen said, “(students) opt to take one class at a time or they can earn an associate degree while getting a high school diploma.”
Ernie Colburn, CEO of the Salisbury Area Chamber of Commerce, said they are working with the school system to establish transportation to ensure that any student who wants to dually enroll can get to the college campus.
“The business community is dedicated to working together with education to help equip the student of today as a (future) qualified worker in our community,” Colburn said. “Everyone who has a stake—educators, parents, legislaters—must cooperate toward these goals. Average is gone. We need to take everything to the next level. Our future is on the line.”
Gail Stephens, assistant director, Office of Public Relations, 410-651-7580, firstname.lastname@example.org