Capitol NewsCareer and College Readiness

HLC Confirms Meaning of Extension, Meeting Scheduled

By September 25, 2016 No Comments

The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) confirmed Friday that its specific and restrictive definition of “extension” does not mean that colleges and high schools can continue “business-as-usual” beyond December 15, 2016 in regard to adding new teachers or courses.

The extension applies only to dual credit faculty engaged as of the date of the institution’s extension filing, according to Steve Kauffman, Public Information Director for HLC. Dual credit faculty hired, or engaged in the dual credit program, after that filing date will need to meet HLC guidelines, even if the institution is granted an extension, Kauffman said. The extension applies only to those on faculty when the institution files for an extension. There is not another extension filing available for faculty hired at a later date.

According to the HLC, if a school system loses the teacher included in the Minnesota State extension application (resigns, retires, etc.), the replacement teacher must be fully credentialed (a masters in the discipline or 18 credits in the discipline beyond an unrelated masters, with or without tested experience) in order to teach the class, even though the course is in the agreement with the college. That means overnight a school can go from being able to offer a dual credit class to not being able to offer the class for college credit.

MREA sought clarification from the Higher Learning Commission after Minnesota State released its direction to local institutions. The information provided by Kauffman is not in line with the memo sent by Minnesota State to superintendents and principals on Sept. 16. In that memo, Minnesota State describes plans to submit one application on behalf of all Minnesota State colleges and universities for an extension to Sept. 1, 2022 for full credentialing of “all current and new concurrent enrollment instructors…” View the memo from Minnesota State.

Since last June, HLC has unilaterally set all the terms of this constriction of who can teach college level courses. The HLC definition of “extension” will most likely lead to the reduction in dual-credits available over time.

MREA will host an On-Point virtual meeting on concurrent enrollment on Tuesday. Learn more and register.

In light of this, it is unlikely that MREA’s previous recommendation that high schools with multiple faculty in a discipline, such as mathematics, work with their campus coordinator to include all potential faculty who could teach the dual-credit course(s) in case the current dual credit teacher(s) leaves the system, will be approved. Additionally, if a high school wants to add a new course beginning in the fall of 2018, 2019, or 2020, that course needs to be on the extension application. Such faculty and courses are not “engaged [in dual-credit] as of the date of the institution’s extension filing,” according to the HLC.

MREA applauds Minnesota State’s intention to include “new” concurrent enrollment instructors between Sept. 1, 2017 and 2022. This will ensure the continuation of dual-credit instruction and the addition of new courses in high schools. There was no mention of a self-imposed Sept. 30, 2016 deadline previously communicated by the Minnesota State for new courses.

MREA hopes that Minnesota State and other state leaders will join the chorus of organizations and individuals who have been protesting the rules and definitions imposed by HLC that will restrict the access of high school students to dual-credit courses. The definition of “extension” is a big step backwards in the effort for Minnesota to develop the World’s Best Workforce.

Minnesota State, in its memo, shares plans to “seek input [on tested experience] from Minnesota State campuses and campus concurrent enrollment advisory boards.” MREA commends Minnesota State for continuing the conversation and encourages members to reach out to their local institutions. MREA also plans to pursue a statewide forum with Minnesota State on tested experience.

Minnesota State also simply restated in the memo its arbitrarily imposed, one-size-fits-all pricing structure of $3,300 per mentor/mentee relationship per course. This 100 percent or more increase needs a longer conversation with Minnesota State. View the memo from Minnesota State.

Members can participate in all these conversations and more at a State-Wide Dual Credit conference Saturday, Nov. 5. Learn more. Register online.