By Madelynn Coldiron
From busing students to college campuses to in-house teaching to online courses, Kentucky’s high school students are tapping into dual-credit courses of all kinds. Here is a sampling:
Bath County High School has gone from a single dual-credit class five years ago to an Early College program through Morehead State University and Maysville Community and Technical College, said Principal Paul Prater.
PHOTO: Bradley Hammers (left) and Bradley Long work on an assignment in their dual-credit U.S. history class at Garrard County High School.
Superintendent Harvey Tackett said while certified high school teachers handle the dual-credit classes taught there, the school board pays for a Morehead State professor to come to the school to teach a dual-credit speech class. The district also picks up the tab for the textbooks for all those classes.
Students take the Morehead State classes for free because the district pays the university a fee for the dual credit courses, Prater said.
While the school is fortunate to have teaching staff that are credentialed at the college level, Prater said he’s always looking for more. “Every time I have an opening, I just try to look for anybody out there that has that feather in their cap,” he said.
Garrard County High School may be at a disadvantage because no postsecondary institution is within the county’s borders, but Superintendent Paul Mullins said the situation is improving, especially with a partnership with Eastern Kentucky University and offerings from two other institutions.
“We just see what classes we want to offer and we kind of shop around until we find the deal that we like, that’s best for us,” high school Assistant Principal Diana Hart said.
Hart said the school board paid for the classroom set of books for a biotechnology course and, “We always say, ‘We don’t want cost to keep you from taking this class.’ Between our youth service center and our board office, we always find a way to help them out.”
The dual-credit courses are taught by Garrard County High School teachers with the appropriate certification. More could teach, however, if the rules were changed to allow a trial period while they obtain certification, Hart said. Some teachers already cover similar rigorous material in AP classes, she said.
For going on seven years, Lincoln County High School has worked with Eastern Kentucky University’s Danville campus to provide dual-credit courses for its students.
The school board allows students to drive – not carpool – with parental permission the 15-20 minute drive to the Danville campus and provides a bus route for those who can’t. The busing can limit the course offerings students take due to the timing, Principal Tim Godbey said.
The dual-credit classes are mostly electives, since the high school would rather teach its own classes related to end-of-course exams. The district also has agreements with other institutions, but the bulk of its offerings come through EKU, which picks up the tuition for qualifying students, up to three hours per semester.
Last year, the school offered a dual-credit online arts and humanities course through the university, Godbey said, predicting an increase in that method.
“We try to do two-three things for our kids,” said Livingston County High School Principal Scott Gray.
That includes an Area Technology Center on site where students can receive some dual credit courses in the major career pathways, and high school English and business teachers with certification teaching some dual-credit offerings. Last year, students had a medical office course and computer classes for dual credit at the high school.
Gray said the school works with West Kentucky Community and Technical College, which 40 percent of its graduates go on to attend. “We’ve been pretty fortunate,” he said “We work pretty well with the community college and have for several years in getting these courses available to us.”
Owen County High School has been busing students to the area technology center in Carrollton for regular vocational-tech classes there. This year, 22 students who want to take dual-credit classes will join them, Principal Duane Kline said.
“We decided to piggyback on that,” he said.
After the 45-minute ride, the bus will drop dual-credit students off at the Carrollton campus of Jefferson Community and Technical College and then deposit the other students at the ATC.
Students will go to the JCTC campus two days a week, and take online dual-credit courses the remaining three days at the high school. The district will pick up instructional costs and transportation expense, and absorb some of the online course costs, Kline said.
“The challenge is that we could be doing a whole lot more if the transportation wasn’t the big deal that it is,” he added.
This year, the Owensboro Independent district is launching a new Early College Academy through a partnership with Owensboro Community and Technical College that will enable students to graduate with both a high school diploma and a college associate degree. The district will pick up most of or all of the cost, including about 20 percent of the price tag from its general fund, said Superintendent Dr. Nick Brake.
The selective program will begin with about 10 students, said Brake, who hopes that number eventually reaches 50 or so. It’s similar to a program offered by Hancock County Schools.
The students enrolled in the Early College Academy will receive dual credit for their classes, which will be taught by OCTC instructors at the college campus. Students taking regular dual-credit classes at Owensboro High School will still be able to take those courses through certified high school teachers, and the district will continue its practice of paying for their books and providing grant or scholarship resources.