Barbara Gillman-Danley, president of the Higher Learning Commission, told Minnesota media on Friday that she was “surprised at the intensity” of the pushback in Minnesota to the commission’s decision to make the credentialing rules an explicit requirement for accreditation.
Minnesota has been a leader in breaking down the barriers between high school and college for decades. Minnesota was the first to begin PSEO and for 30 years has had concurrent enrollment with the state’s flagship University of Minnesota’s College in the Schools (CIS) program. Minnesota also has seen dual credit classes help address achievement gaps, as shown by this chart on participation.
The HLC’s ruling uses a one-size-fits-all approach to credentialing college instructors and fails to fully account for the differences between a college instructor and a licensed high school teacher teaching a dual-credit class.
“CIS, like AP and IB, is not a high school teacher developing a curriculum, deciding on how to deliver the curriculum, how to evaluate student learning and assigning grades,” said Dr. Robert Wedl, senior associate of Education Evolving and former Minnesota Commissioner of Education. “Rather these key elements are developed by college profs who then train, coach and mentor the high school teachers. While the high school teachers must be highly competent for students to excel, the partnership with the college prof is key to assuring quality. ”
Time to Lead
Given Minnesota’s leadership, experience and student success with dual-credit courses, it is necessary Minnesota takes the lead on helping create processes that ensure “the best learning experience for students in the high school so they can be successful in college,” which Gillman-Danley told the Star Tribune on Friday is the goal of the Higher Learning Commission. Achieving the “best learning experiences” requires a different process for licensed high school teachers than for college instructors who only teach college and university level classes. The HLC has missed this difference.
Fortunately Minnesota has a process to develop such a response: The P-20 Partnership is created in Minnesota statute, and its mission states:
“The Minnesota P-20 Education Partnership is intended to be an organization that speaks for and to Minnesotans on educational issues, plus draws from partner talents to work collaboratively to improve education within Minnesota.”
Minnesota’s students need the P-20 Partnership to speak for the state on this issue to the HLC and to U.S. Congress, from which the HLC gains its authority to make accreditation rules.
MREA encourages you to keep raising your voices and share concerns with members of the P-20 Partnership and the Minnesota Congressional delegation. Expect action alerts to these ends in the coming weeks.