• Confessions of a Community College Dean

    In which a veteran of cultural studies seminars in the 1990s moves into academic administration and finds himself a married suburban father of two. Foucault, plus lawn care.


Split Grades

Looking for answers from wise and worldly readers.

September 10, 2019

This one is particularly aimed at folks who have worked with dual enrollment programs.

In this context, I'm using "dual enrollment" to refer to courses that simultaneously carry high school credit and college credit.

That's different from programs in which high schools, say, let the seniors out early in the day to take college classes at the college. In those cases, the seniors typically have already fulfilled their high school graduation requirements, and they take classes at the college to get a jump on college. That's a great model, but it's separate from my concern here.

Here, I'm looking at college classes taught in high schools, usually by high school teachers, and carrying credit for both. It's an increasingly popular model, particularly among parents who are concerned about college costs and/or concerned that their kids might not otherwise be able to go to college at all. Successful completion of college courses in high school can save families money, and can also affirm to a doubtful student that they're "college material."

But there can be an unintended side effect. If a student is taking a college class to fulfill a high school graduation requirement -- I'm thinking here of English, but it could apply to anything -- and fails it, then not only does the student miss out on college credit, they also get derailed on the way to graduating high school. That's not the goal of such programs, of course, but it's a predictable eventuality.

So, my question for my wise and worldly readers who have experience in such things:

Have you seen a reasonably elegant way of splitting the grade?

AP classes handle it by separating the college credit part -- the exam -- from the high school course part. A student can pass the high school class in, say, AP English (and thereby fulfill their graduation requirement in English) while still bombing the exam and thereby missing out on college credit. If that happens, the student doesn't get college credit, but still gets high school credit (and therefore graduates without incident).

The problem with the AP model is that it boils everything down to one high-stakes test. As we know from the years of study on placement exams, that's not a great model.

I know mine isn't the first college to face this. Has anyone found a reasonably elegant solution?


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