Can a high school student taking a college-level course in a high school classroom receive the same rigorous academic curriculum as a college student taking the same course on a university campus? Becky Carter and Marie Theobald think so. They know that a combination of using the same course outlines, textbooks and resources paired with high expectations and support systems for college faculty, high school teachers, and students ensures consistent rigor across dual credit and traditional college classes.
Becky Carter is a program specialist at Indiana University’s Advance College Project (ACP). Courses offered through ACP are university courses taught during the regular school day at the high school by ACP-certified high school teachers. Each course covers the same course outline and content, has the same expectations, and gives the same credit as a course taught on Indiana University’s campus. High school instructors teaching dual credit classes through ACP receive training to deliver the college material so that it aligns with college-level expectations and requirements.
According to Carter, high school teachers are nominated for the adjunct lecturer position based upon specific criteria. Teacher selection is based upon the same standards as any adjunct or part-time faculty teaching at Indiana University. Final approval of teachers comes from the college academic department. New ACP teachers must participate in intensive summer training seminars, and veteran ACP teachers participate in annual review seminars to extend their content knowledge and stay current with innovations in postsecondary pedagogy. Additionally, all ACP teachers receive one site visit from Indiana University faculty each semester. “The purpose of the visit is to ensure the integrity of the ACP course content and instructional delivery,” explained Carter.
One challenge of the program is the cost associated with teacher training and ongoing evaluation. Another challenge is finding high school teacher applicants who have the academic background needed to teach a dual credit course, said Carter.
Specific criteria for teachers also holds true for Vincennes University’s program with Early College Academy at Arsenal Tech. “At Arsenal Tech, high school faculty must have academic preparation in course content areas and must meet university criteria as adjunct faculty,” explained Theobald. “This means teachers need a minimum of a master’s degree in order to teach bachelor-level classes.”
In addition to ensuring teacher readiness, schools also must ensure student readiness for college-level classes. “Sometimes college expectations shock our high school students,” said Theobald, “because they can’t, for example, do extra credit to raise a grade. They are held to the same standards as college students on the college campus.” To prepare students for college work, the school offers preparatory classes in reading, writing and math. Arsenal Tech students can take developmental courses such as READ 009 and 011, ENGL 009 and 011, and MATH 009, 011 and 012.
Theobald said, “A strong connection between high school teachers and college faculty is critical to Arsenal Tech Early College Academy’s dual credit program success.” Theobald and her colleagues foster this connection in several ways including a mentoring program between Vincennes University faculty and the high school teachers. The faculty become resources for the teachers by sharing ideas, answering questions and conducting visits to the high school. These collaborations not only increase the rigor of the coursework, but expand the knowledge and expertise of both the teachers and their students.
Published: February 2009