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Peters bill would boost college credit at high schools

Melissa Nann Burke
Detroit News Washington Bureau

Washington — U.S. Sen. Gary Peters, D-Bloomfield Township, is introducing a bill to expand options for high school students to earn college credit through dual or concurrent college enrollment via federal grants.

The effort builds on an amendment by Peters that passed Congress last year as part of the Every Student Achieves Act, allowing more K-12 money to be spent on similar programs.

The bipartisan legislation, introduced with Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-Louisiana, would permit the U.S. Department of Education to create a grant program using Higher Education Act funds to carry out dual and concurrent enrollment programs.

It also would offer professional training teachers to teach such courses, as well as assisting with course design, student counseling and supporting course approval processes, according to a bill summary.

Dual enrollment is defined as students enrolled in two separate institutions pursuing both high-school and college credits, while concurrent enrollment allows high-school students to take courses for college credit that are taught by college-approved high school teachers.

“One thing that we’ve learned is that in concurrent enrollments, often high school teachers teach the programs for the colleges, and part of that is training them to teach the course to the standards of the university or the college that’s granting the credits,” Peters said in a Monday interview.

Data from the National Center for Education Statistics shows that early-enrolling college students on average earn 36 college credits. A major benefit of making these programs more accessible is the savings on college costs for families, he added.

“Earning up to 30 college credits by the time you graduate from high school — that’s like you come into college as a sophomore rather than a freshman, so that is a significant savings for the student, and for the family supporting that student,” Peters said.

“Students who get credits through concurrent enrollment programs, not only do they come into college already with credits toward their degree, studies also show there’s a higher graduation rate because of that” and are more likely to graduate in less than four years.

Kojo Quartey, president of Monroe County Community College, said dual enrollment programs also significantly help students discover their passions and select their majors early in their college careers.

“I have seen firsthand how Monroe County Middle College students benefit from the opportunity to take a closer look at their area of academic interest before stepping foot in a college classroom,” Quartey said in a statement. The legislation “will strengthen these programs, which will in turn help students save time and money.”

A companion bill is being introduced in the U.S. House by Reps. Jared Polis, D-Colorado, and Tom Reed, R-New York.


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