The House Education Finance Committee on Thursday heard an overview of the state’s dual enrollment programs for high school students to earn both high school and college credits.
Programs discussed included Concurrent Enrollment (CE), College in the Schools (CIS), Advance Placement courses (AP), and International Bachelorette (IB).
House Research staff provided a history and background on each program and testimony was provided by officials from Minnesota State, formally MnSCU, and by Joe Nathan of the Center for School Change.
Most of the discussion centered around the controversy of the Higher Learning Commission’s (HLC) mandate in 2015 that all high school teachers must have a master’s in their subject area or a master’s plus 18 credits in their subject area to keep teaching dual credit courses.
The HLC is a higher education accreditation agency that was established by Congress in 1965 to accredit higher ed institutions’ programs.
Many E-12 advocacy groups see this as a power grab by the HLC into the high schools. MREA has been a leading voice on this issue and working extensively to find solutions.
Last year, MREA successfully got legislation passed to create the Northwest Partnership program that allows teachers in northwest Minnesota to obtain these credits through Minnesota State Moorhead, paid for by the state. This is a pilot program for the next few year with hopes of expanding it statewide.
The HLC has granted a 5-year waiver of the mandate, but this does not solve the problem long-term.
MREA Director of Legislative Affairs Sam Walseth also testified that MREA has been working with Minnesota State officials to identify solutions.
Many committee members shared their frustration with the HLC, Federal government, notably Rep. Peggy Scott (R-Andover) and Rep. Jim Davnie (DFL-Minneapolis) and that members of Congress also need to take action to fix this.