Concurrent enrollment programs across Minnesota are at grave risk due to three recent decisions made by Minnesota State, formerly known as MnSCU. Those decisions came without input from the Minnesota school districts that offer concurrent enrollment programs to students.

Maintaining this dual credit option for students will require teachers, administrators, school board members, parents and other education advocates to raise their voice. MREA will be sending an action alert to members with additional details this week.

Concurrent enrollment has been used widely in Minnesota to help young people transition from high school to college and career and address college affordability.

Earlier Deadline

Minnesota State recently, through an internal agreement with its presidents, moved up the deadline up for new program agreements and new instructors to Sept 30, 2016.

The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) initially set a deadline of Sept. 1, 2017 for teachers to be full credentialed under the new requirements. HLC also decided to allow post-secondary institutions and systems to apply for an extension for up to five years by Dec. 15, 2016.

Any program or teacher not included in this extension application must be fully credentialed to teach a dual credit class after September 1, 2017. HLC does not have any deadline other than Dec. 15. Learn more about HLC Faculty Qualifications Guidelines, Application and Timelines

In the application for such extension, systems, such as Minnesota State, need to list for each higher education institution the number of high schools offering dual credit, the number of faculty, courses and credit hours issued. The application asks in total for the “anticipated number of dual credit faculty who will need additional graduate credit hours to satisfy the requirement of having a masters degree and 18 graduate credits in the discipline as of Sept. 1, 2017.

That makes preparation for this extension application critical. Yet, Minnesota State so far has failed to notify its high school partners of the change.

Tested Experience

In June, Minnesota State Leadership Council, which is the internal leadership body composed of campus presidents and other system officials, formally tabled the proposed guidelines on “Tested Experience.”  Tested experiences are alternative ways teachers can demonstrate breadth of knowledge and experience which is equivalent to graduate credit.

The HLC defined it as including “a breadth and depth of experience outside of the classroom in real-world situations relevant to the discipline in which the faculty member would be teaching.”

A consortium of education organizations from across the state asked Minnesota State and Chancellor Steven Rosenstone to meet on defining tested experience in May and that request was declined in June. Learn more about the issues.

Uniform Price

The Minnesota State office in April announced to campus administrators a new uniform price of $3,000 per mentor-mentee relationship per course.

An internal Minnesota State committee worked on standardizing pricing without gaining feedback from the high school partners and has not provided any rationale for the change. The uniform pricing does not take in account small schools in which there is only one section for a course.

No Collaboration

In April,  the Chancellor’s office shared a commitment to work collaboratively and asked MREA to help engage K-12 leaders on the issue. But that has not been the experience.

“We are committed to ensuring that concurrent enrollment opportunities for high school students continue and grow. We value our concurrent enrollment partnerships and we are committed to working collaboratively with our secondary partners,” the memo read. (Read full memo)

A Better Solution: Minnesota State

MREA recognizes the importance of concurrent enrollment and encourages Minnesota State to:.

  1. Maximize the power of HLC’s five-year extension to provide opportunities for students by:
    • Extending the deadline for new instructors and programs by 45 days to November 15. This will give the system 30 days to complete the application for extension by Dec 15.
    • Widely and actively publicizing this immediately to all campuses and HS partners.
    • Encourage high schools to include current and potential instructors for currently offered classes. This way if a teacher leaves in five years, another HS teacher on staff is already listed as an instructor.
    • Encouraging high schools and campuses to include potential new classes not currently offered by in planning stages so they are included in the extension.
  2. Re-start the Tested Experience conversation and facilitate full partnership with high schools by:
    • Engaging the campus level concurrent enrollment advisory committees.
    • Engaging in statewide conversations with principals and content subject organizations. MREA, the Center for School Change and Bethel University along with many other state partners plan on holding such a conversation sometime in the winter of 2017.
  3. Engage rural Minnesota school districts and charter schools in creating standardized, but customized, pricing for schools with smaller sections, single sections, and instructors that teach multiple courses. Also develop collaboratively a list of deliverables for the course fees.

3 Steps You Can Take

  1. Watch for action alert this week to have your voice heard.
  2. Plan to attend a statewide conference for parents and students on the benefits of concurrent enrollment and how to get enrolled. It will be held Nov. 5, from 10 am-2 pm, in St. Paul.
  3. Share this post with your candidates for the Minnesota House and Senate. Ask them for their positions on college affordability and workforce readiness. Encourage them to speak out on the campaign trail regarding the Minnesota State decisions.

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