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Expanded college credit opportunities presented at school board meeting

By SHANNON WATKINS

shannon@southwesttimes.com

According to a presentation given by Stacey Heller, Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Academic Support for Pulaski County Schools at the school board meeting last week, Pulaski County High School junior and senior students will have more opportunities to earn college credits during the 2013-14 school year.

Currently, dual enrollment classes are limited to Biology I and II and English 12, according to Heller. During the 2013-14 school year, Pre-calculus, U.S. and Virginia Government and an additional English 12 class will be added to the course offerings.  Heller said that a three-year plan includes additional dual enrollment offerings in Applied Calculus, Psychology, Sociology, U.S. and Virginia History and Economics.

“In today’s world,” said Superintendent Dr. Thomas Brewster, “there’s no reason a student can’t take any class that they want to take if it’s a class that’s approved by the Virginia Department of Education.”

School Board Chairman Mike Barbour said, “Just going out the door from high school with a year’s worth of college credits at a state supported university that represents a savings of about $20,000. That’s really important. It sounds like what we’re doing now is a process of getting the faculty to teach it.”

According to Heller, no additional local budget funding will be needed to prepare teachers for teaching dual enrollment. Teachers of dual enrollment classes are required to have a Master’s Degree and 18 hours of college credit in the specific content area.  Teaching an advanced placement class requires annual professional development training and a syllabus approved by the College Board and principal, said Heller.

Regarding the number of students benefiting from these programs, Heller noted, “Currently we have 114 students that are taking 225 dual enrollment classes.  Our plan is to offer dual enrollment classes in each content area, so I would expect that this number would double.”

Dual enrollment classes are offered through a partnership with New River Community College.  Students obtain community college course credits by earning a C or better in dual enrollment classes.  Advanced placement college credits are earned from a passing score of 3, 4 or 5 on an advanced placement exam administered in May.  Each exam costs $89, most of which is reimbursed to the student if they earn a passing score.

Board member Joe Guthrie asked, “Do you know how many of the students are earning a C or better?”

Heller reported that according to academic records, 122 out of 148 students enrolled in Biology I and English 12 during the first semester earned a C or better.

Information about the dual-enrollment program for the Career and Technical Education students will be presented at the next school board meeting.

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