MnSCU Chancellor Steven Rosenstone responded to changes made to concurrent enrollment by the Higher Learning Commission. He spoke with Minnesota’s school superintendents during Minnesota Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius’ December conference call.
“I am very aware of the consternation circulating since last spring’s HLC decision regarding credentialing of concurrent enrollment teachers,” Rosenstone said. “I want to assure you of the commitment to continue concurrent enrollment.”
About 21,000 students are now taking concurrent enrollment courses, the majority through MnSCU, he said. This is a 65 percent growth over the past decade. Systems can apply to HLC for a five-year extension, and MnSCU will grant them.
Chancellor Rosenstone outlined the specific steps MnSCU is taking, including:
- Inventorying the scope of the credentialing needs of concurrent teachers to reach 18 credits or a masters in the field. This is expected to be completed in February.
- Seeing what graduate content courses MnSCU can make available for working teachers.
- Exploring avenues to show graduate credit and tested experience within discipline for prior work of high school teachers. A work group will develop a system-wide rubric for tested experience.
- Working with Commissioner Cassellius to be thoughtful about the resources needed to credential teachers and address this with the legislature.
- Ending the current “hodgepodge” within MnSCU and offer more consistency in the courses offered state-wide and procedures for high schools, high school teachers, and students.
When asked whether the experience of current concurrent enrollment teachers and the success of their students would count towards the HLC credentialing guidelines, Chancellor Rosenstone replied that both he and Commissioner Cassellius are “…disappointed in the rigidity of HLC on this. We need to push hard on this point… [and] develop a rubric under which we can make and defend the argument.”
Commissioner Cassellius contributed to the conversation by stating there needed to be “a shift in the culture so that teachers get their masters within discipline.” She went on to describe such a masters degree to include curriculum work within a discipline so teachers get pedagogy and content. She also spoke of working with the Board of Teaching to see the concurrent enrollment credential as a license.
P-20 Partnership Remarks
Chancellor Rosenstone again described these steps on Friday during a P-20 Partnership meeting, the first since April. He noted there is a “compelling state interest” to continue concurrent enrollment.
Kirk Schneidawind, MSBA Executive Director, responded that MSBA appreciates his movement on this and urged him to have K-12 folks involved in this work.
He went on to state that high school teacher experience has to be a factor in their credentialing, and encouraged MnSCU to work in regions to maximize the opportunities for teachers to work with MnSCU institutions. He noted that the current teacher shortage is compounding this problem, especially for Greater Minnesota school districts.
Both Joe Nathan of the Center for School Change and Fred Nolan of MREA also addressed the P-20 Partnership. Both commended MnSCU and the U of M for taking the steps they are to ensure the continuity of concurrent enrollment.
They stressed that high school teachers and principals needed to be included in their work, and recommended a “two-track” approach to the HLC guideline. The first track is the work described by Chancellor Rosenstone and similar work at the U of M.
The second track is to reach out to the U.S. Congress and Minnesota’s Congressional delegation and make the case that there is a compelling national interest in blending high school and college with Minnesota’s model (and Indian’s which is similar), rather than in the HLC model with regard to the credentialing of concurrent enrollment teachers.
There is a difference between a high school teacher teaching a course created by a college professor with supervision by a college professor and a college professor who is to teach a full array of courses and participates in university curriculum development.
To ignore this difference is creating an unnecessary and significant public and private cost to credential HS teachers, and has the real potential, despite the efforts of MnSCU, to reduce dual-credit options for rural students.
In his remarks, Nolan shared the need to remember 9th grade civics. “When faced with situation requiring a change, we don’t tell students, ‘That’s just the way it is,’ we teach them how an idea becomes a law,” Nolan said.
As a national leader in in successfully transitioning students from high school to college with concurrent enrollment, Minnesota needs to take this issue to congress in the national interest.