Area 30 plans to increase dual credit options

Monday, November 15, 2010

GREENCASTLE -- A dual credit program at an area high school has some similarities to an Advanced Placement course -- the end goal of both is to receive post-secondary credit for a high school course.

The steps before that college credit are a bit different. Lora Busch is the director of Area 30 Career Center, which currently offers more 70 credit hours of dual credit programs, and intends to offer 90 by the end of this year. She said one of the defining characteristics of dual credit programs are the ways the class interacts with a college or university.

"Dual credit is given to students who are enrolled in courses that have a written agreement with post secondary institutions that say 'upon successful completion of this course, you will have a transcript that shows a college course that you get credit for,'" Busch said.

She said part of what makes dual credit courses unique is how closely the individual college or university has to work with the instructor.

"The credentialing of the instructor by each institution in each program area has to be in place before the dual credit can be offered," Busch said. "The curriculum and syllabi have to be reviewed by the post secondary institutions and by the high school. It pretty much has to match whatever course they're getting credit for. Textbooks have to be reviewed."

Captain Charles Inman of the Greencastle Police Department teaches courses in law enforcement. He said the savings to students has been one of the factors that attract students to these types of programs.

"The savings to the student for the three law enforcement courses alone could be upwards of $2,000," Inman said.

Because of that incentive, Inman has found students to be very interested in the classes.

"They're very receptive to it," Inman said. "When it's thrown out to them, it's a great benefit to them, because there's no cost whatsoever, and there's really no penalty if they don't do it."

Inman said the only downside for students is if they don't take the class seriously -- the credit can't be achieved without a grade of a C or better.

"So if they mess around in the class and they get a D they won't get the credit but it's a permanent credit that they'll have and it doesn't expire," he said. "Fifteen years from now, if they decide to go to school, that's still on their record."

Inman has taught the criminal justice program at Area 30 for four years. He said his dual role with the criminal justice program and the police force has been a benefit to students.

"As we go into the second semester, there's a lot of job shadowing," Inman said. "They job shadow pretty much from day one. They'll do the ride alongs and when we do ERT (Emergency Response Training), they'll come along for that."

Busch, the Area 30 director, said the state is currently designing pathways to allow these connections between high school career and technical education classes and post-secondary education institutions to be more transferable. These pathways will allow students to transfer the dual credit class they take to a variety of statewide colleges and universities.

"They're basically a four-year pathway; from your junior year until your second year of post secondary," Busch said. "We've developed 17 of them. I was on the law enforcement committee this year.

"There's a lot yet to do, but this is the first year we're implementing these pathways," she said.

Busch said each pathway will have a template that will essentially tell a student on a given career path what to take at what point.

Inman, who is also an instructor with the Greencastle Police Department and other local law enforcement agencies, said teaching the classes he does has helped him do better in those areas of his job.

Inman also said helping students go on to further education is very rewarding.

"One of my greatest successes is that we're taking kids that are not your A/B students, that may not be thinking past their sophomore or junior year in high school and we get them and they go on to something," Inman said. "The vast majority of mine have either gone on to law enforcement, criminal justice or the military."

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