Get more students into dual enrollment
Dual enrollment that gives Louisiana’s high school students opportunities to earn high school and college credit at the same time isn’t where it needs to be. However, education officials are aware of the shortcomings and appear to be ready to tackle the problems.
Among the missing pieces are a statewide plan and uneven access to the program, according to a report in The Advocate. The state Board of Regents and the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education held a joint meeting to discuss the issue.
National standards indicate Louisiana was late to the game, the newspaper said. One problem has been earlier emphasis on using the program only for gifted students.
Another issue is the fact some students pay nothing for the classes while others are charged as much as $800 per course. Rural area students say they don’t enjoy the same access available for students living in cities.
Kim Hunter Reed, state commissioner of higher education, said, “For a number of students, it is exposure and an opportunity to go from ‘I am not sure I am college material’ to a self-talk that ‘I can do it.’ “
During the 2017-18 school year, 31,517 students were enrolled in dual education. That is up from 19,716 a decade ago. However, only 23 percent of high school students are taking college courses. Another concern is the fact only 21 percent of the total are black students who make up 44 percent of the high school population.
John White, state superintendent of education, said the state should ensure tuition fees are not blocking enrollments. He said more should be done to get youngsters from all backgrounds ready for the courses.
Regional, technical and community colleges handle 81 percent of dual enrollment. The University of Louisiana System has 43 percent of the total, or 13,360 students.
Jim Henderson, president of that system, said regional colleges have formed robust relationships with local school systems. He said that is what makes it possible to have an effective dual enrollment program.
The Louisiana Community and Technical College System handles 38 percent of those taking college courses, or 12,062 students.
The ability to finance dual enrollment is another major problem. Unfortunately, many of tomorrow’s leaders are the losers when funding isn’t found.