Profiles in Education: North High School Partners with USI for Dual Credit Program
By Christine Marson
The College Achievement Program (CAP) is a cooperative program between the University of Southern Indiana (USI) and 22 participating high schools from across Indiana. Carol Pigman, English teacher at North High School in Evansville, and Ginger Ramsden, CAP director at the University of Southern Indiana, took time to detail North High School’s Dual Credit program and how it is giving students the unique opportunity to earn college credit while in high school through CAP.
Can you provide a brief overview of North High School’s Dual Credit program?
Pigman: North High School implemented its first CAP course in the fall of 1991, and we currently offer 12 CAP classes, which is approximately equivalent to 36 credit hours. These classes are offered through USI. We also offer courses through Vincennes University and Ivy Tech Community College. This year we added Communications 101, US History 101/102, and Spanish 3/4. Next year we hope to add government, French, and creative writing. We also are discussing potential coursework in education and business.
How was this program created?
Ramsden: USI is a broad-based institution providing instruction, research and service. It has five colleges: Business, Education and Human Services, Liberal Arts, Nursing and Health Professions, and Science and Engineering, as well as an outreach unit—the Division of Extended Services. Our Dual Credit program is administered by the director of education services and partnerships, based in Extended Services.
CAP was launched in 1985, offering one course, English 101: Rhetoric and Composition, in three area high schools to about 75 students. During the fall 2008 semester, CAP offered 37 courses in 22 high schools, taught by 93 instructors, with a student enrollment of 853.
The NACEP (National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships) accreditation process caused faculty to examine CAP carefully, with a resulting growth of confidence in the quality of the program and a commitment to maintain this level of quality.
What is USI’s involvement with North High School?
Ramsden: After beginning our first concurrent course, History 101, at North High School in 1991, we have slowly added courses as the teachers at North High School have acquired the necessary credentials for USI adjunct faculty status and as USI has added to the number of courses offered through CAP. Today we offer 12 courses at North High School, but if students attain an A or B in Spanish 203, they actually receive test-out credit for Spanish 101 and 102; so in essence, students could earn credit for up to 13 courses.
Of particular importance in USI’s relationship with North High School is Carol Pigman. She is our building coordinator and our CAP cheerleader. As an advocate for the program, she suggests courses to add to our CAP lineup and encourages North High School’s staff to continue their education in order to attain credentialing to be able to offer CAP courses. At Carol’s encouragement, our English department is considering piloting our freshman-level creative writing course at North High School, and we hope to offer 14 courses at North High School in the spring. Courses currently offered are Chemistry 107, Communication Studies 101, Economics 175, English 101, English 105, History 101, History 102, Math 111, Physics 101, Spanish 203, and Spanish 204.
What support and professional development does USI offer to North High School?
Pigman: During the summer, a one-day CAP professional development day is held. The goal of the day is twofold—we take care of paperwork and also have an opportunity to meet with other teachers and USI staff in our disciplines. This is very useful as it provides an opportunity to network with other teachers and school districts. The CAP liaisons in each discipline are very accessible throughout the year to provide support, guidance and resources. Additionally, on an annual basis, the liaisons observe classrooms and provide helpful insight to CAP instructors.
Why would this program be of interest to a teacher?
Pigman: North High School offers CAP credit in Advanced Placement English 11: Composition and Language. The CAP element helps keep this course rigorous; students are expected to perform and behave like college students. They also get a glimpse of college coursework in the safe environment of high school. Another benefit of this is that students receive credit for the advanced work they do.
When we first approached USI about offering a CAP class for English 11, some at USI were skeptical that English 11 students were capable of college work. However, these individuals were pleasantly surprised. I have found that if you challenge students and encourage them to do their best, they rise to the occasion.
In what ways does North High School’s Dual Credit program benefit the school and the students?
Pigman: The benefits of the CAP program are many. The obvious answer is that students begin college ahead of the other incoming freshmen, which means that they can have leeway on classes, schedules and opportunities. However, the most beneficial elements are the ones that are not so obvious. The first one came from one of the student’s parents. Because her son had taken CAP courses, he was able to take a minimum load his freshman year in college. While his friends were stressing out with 15–18 credit hours, he was able to take 12 and work part-time. He was able to transition into college life easier this way. One of the best benefits is that these students grow in confidence and ability. They recognize that they can perform at a higher level, and they really do push themselves to achieve at a higher level.
Published: December 2008