AC, districts focus on dual credit expansion

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Chancellor Bruce Leslie asked trustees and independent school district officials to choose strategies during a special board meeting Wednesday.  Daniel Arguelles

Chancellor Bruce Leslie asked trustees and independent school district officials to choose
strategies during a special board meeting Wednesday. Daniel Arguelles

SAISD expects to add three high schools to early college program

By Carlos Ferrand

Chancellor Bruce Leslie and the Alamo Colleges’ board of trustees played dinner host for about 25 independent school district superintendents and board chairs Wednesday in the Heritage Room at St. Philip’s College.

The goal of the dinner was to select at least one primary strategy out of 10 created by district officials during a similar dinner meeting in May to determine if a committee should be formed to spearhead the initiative.

“The strategies are designed to improve student success and college readiness,” Michelle Perales, director of community partnerships, said.

The strategy selected would become an initiative that the Alamo Colleges and partnering independent school districts would focus on for the current academic year.

District 1 trustee Joe Alderete Jr. said all 10 strategies were important and should be discussed.

The group decided to focus on dual credit.

The initiative aims to expand access to dual credit courses by providing earlier dual credit opportunities, establishing more flexible deadlines, and finding more efficient methods to certify high school teachers for the courses.

Dual credit courses allow students to receive both high school and college credit for one courses.

To be certified to teach dual credit courses, a teacher must have a master’s degree in the discipline they are teaching or a master’s degree with at least 18 course hours in the discipline they are teaching.

The requirements are the same for full-time and adjunct faculty at this college.

During spring 2013, 8,156 students were enrolled in dual credit courses with Alamo Colleges throughout the eight-county service area.

Chancellor Bruce Leslie said the initiative should include strengthening and creating partnerships with high schools to expand the early college high school model.

San Antonio, Comal and Judson independent school districts participate in the early high school program. SAISD partners with this college and Judson partners with Northeast Lakeview College.

Memorial High School in the Comal district buses students to St. Philip’s College. The program allows 500 students to enroll per school district, Perales said.

During an interview Thursday, Perales said the college district expects to add Sam Houston, Brackenridge and Highland high schools in 2014 to the early college high school program.

Harlandale and Seguin school districts and New Frontier Charter District are also planning to join the program in 2014, she said.

A committee was not formed because many in attendance questioned the amount of time public school board members and superintendents would have to serve on a committee.

Mark Larson, chief executive officer of Kipp Academy, expressed concerns about creating a committee of board members and superintendents.

If public school officials do not have the time to dig into this question, the impact would be minimal, he said. “I think this is an area where we need to develop expertise,” Larson said.

District 6 trustee Gene Sprague said, “We are at the stage where we need to foster ideas.” He said it is important that no one is left out of the conversations. Another meeting is planned for late January.

The total cost of dinner was $1,348.


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