Yesterday I asked my wise and worldly readers to help me figure out how to do concurrent enrollment at scale. I was particularly interested in the credentials expected of the high school teachers who are deputized to teach college classes.
Once again, my wise and worldly readers came through.
Many wrote from other states. I was struck by the difference among what we used to call regional accreditors. It sounds like SACS and the HLC are much more prescriptive than Middle States. Middle States requires that colleges hold concurrent enrollment teachers to the same credentials as they would adjuncts on campus, but it leaves the actual credentials to the states. HLC apparently requires either a master’s in the discipline or a master’s in something else and 18 graduate credit hours in the discipline.
Some places make a distinction between liberal arts courses and CTE courses, allowing industry certifications to take the place of graduate degrees in career and technical areas. I like that approach a lot, because it combines enforceable rigor in areas where it makes sense with a recognition that requiring a graduate degree to teach Intro to Automotive Tech is overkill.
The obvious challenge with a hard degree requirement is making sure that enough teachers have the desired credential. Some universities actually offer discounted and streamlined graduate coursework for high school teachers; the various locations of Minnesota State University seem to have a particularly accessible program. I don’t know how successful the program is at recruitment, but the idea certainly makes sense.
A correspondent from Texas noted that an unforeseen ripple effect of having scaled up concurrent enrollment programs with credentialed teachers is that it has become harder to get qualified adjuncts on campus. Now that high schools are hiring so many teachers with graduate degrees, local folks who have graduate degrees can get full-time jobs. On balance, that’s a very good thing, but I understand the frustration of trying to staff classes. Ideally, the lack of available adjuncts would lead to more full-time hiring to compete—in industry, they call that a war for talent—but that presumes resources that may or may not be available.
A few wrote to express misgivings about dual enrollment generally. The argument was based on the rough correlation between the rise of dual enrollment and the national decline of community college enrollments. Whether that’s causal or coincidental is a question for empirical research.
A separate line of argument arose around the existence of degree credentials in the first place. With AP and IB classes, for instance, we don’t ask about the credentials of the instructor. If a student gets a 5, they get credit, regardless of who taught their class. Credit by examination, prior learning assessment and even competency-based education are all based on what the student can do rather than on what the instructor has done. Imposing a requirement of graduate coursework in math for teachers to teach, say, precalculus, seems to be contrary to the direction of things in higher education. A few readers mentioned a model in which there’s a supervising professor at the college who evaluates work for college credit, while the high school teacher delivers the course. I tried that model at Brookdale, with mixed results. It works, but it’s much more labor-intensive than most other models.
Another reader mentioned that the optimal case doesn’t involve high school teachers at all. Instead, the college sends professors to the high school to teach. That’s great when it works, but it presents serious issues of its own. The major practical issues are around scheduling. Typically, neither the time slots nor the academic calendars match. A professor who teaches a class in a high school may have to block out the equivalent of several time slots for that. It works when it works, but it doesn’t scale easily.
Thank you to everyone who responded. So many thoughtful and civil responses gave me hope that it’s still possible to exchange ideas on the internet like adults. That, alone, is worth it.