Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Proposed changes to dual-credit regulations would hurt rural Minnesota students, officials say

Proposed changes to dual-credit guidelines in Minnesota could negatively impact the number of rural high school students who can take college credits, Christopher Magan reports for the Duluth News Tribune. The Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System "wants to raise the fees schools pay to offer dual-credit courses and update how educators prove they have the skills needed to teach at the college level." Fred Nolan, executive director of the Minnesota Rural Education Association, said "the credentialing update could drastically limit the number of outstate educators who can teach dual-credit classes."

State leaders say dual-credit classes are "one way to expand college access to more students and reduce student loan debt," Magan writes. "In 2014, the majority of Minnesota college graduates had loans to repay with an average debt of $31,579. Lawmakers included funding increases for dual-credit courses in the current two-year state budget, including money to help instructors meet updated requirements."

Dual credit courses "allow students to earn high school and college credits at the same time and are increasingly popular, with nearly 25,000 high school students taking them in 2014—a 23 percent increase over five years," Magan writes. "Dual-credit classes also are seen as an important tool to increase the number of Minnesotans who have the postsecondary credentials to meet the workforce needs of the future." Malik Bush, co-director of the education advocate the Center for School Change, "said the proposed changes would disproportionately hurt first-time college students and students of color who already struggle to earn degrees." (Read more)

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