By Wally Perez
The board of trustees held a dinner for K-12 partners of the Alamo Colleges to discuss the future expansion of dual credit under House Bill 505 Sept. 8 at St. Philip’s College.
The bill prohibits limitations on the number of dual credit courses or hours in which public high school students may enroll.
Dr. Jo Carol Fabianke, vice chancellor for academic success, led the discussion regarding dual credit expansion in the 2017-18 academic year while ensuring a quality experience for students.
Fabianke said areas of focus include the quality of the program, an expansion of course offerings and a cost-sharing plan.
The expansion plan for a core or workforce certificate completion, which includes an addition of four courses for the 2017-18 academic year to the 10 courses high school students are allowed to take currently, bringing the total to 14.
Currently, ninth grade students are not allowed to enroll in any dual credit courses, but with the expansion plan they would be allowed to take one in spring 2018.
In 10th grade, students would be allowed to take two courses in the spring and two in the fall; up from just one each semester.
Eleventh graders would stay the same at two courses each in the fall and spring while 12th graders would stay the same in the fall with two courses, but would be allowed to take three in the spring rather than two.
This allows a student to move on to college with a total of 42 college hours rather than the previous 30.
There are two paths for the cost-sharing plan for 2017-18.
When school districts pay high school faculty to teach college courses, the Alamo Colleges will pay the school district $600 per course with a minimum of 15 students per course, for both dual credit and early college high school.
Courses with fewer than 15 students do not receive reimbursement.
When Alamo Colleges pay faculty to teach college courses face-to-face or online, the school district will pay Alamo Colleges $100 per student if less than 80 percent of actual student enrollment in a course on census date.
The school district will pay Alamo Colleges $2,800 per course if high school students take 80 percent or higher of actual student enrollment in a course on census date.
During discussion, the independent school districts had a chance to voice their opinions on short-term and long-term challenges related to the expansion plan.
District 8 trustee Clint Kingsbery said there are a lack of teachers with a master’s degree who can teach dual credit courses. Kingsbery said a master’s incentive could be implemented to get teachers to take the 18 hours they need to teach AP courses.
Dr. Nereida Cantu, assistant superintendent of post secondary education and career readiness for Judson Independent School District, agreed with Kingsbery and said they need to figure out how to promote and encourage teachers to get a master’s.
Cantu said partnerships are critical.
“How do we grow those partnerships as a collaborative?” Cantu said.
“It’s unrealistic to believe one entity can work with 38 school districts, so it’s important that we continue to work together.”
Leslie opened the floor to any suggestions for topics that a bill should be prepared for, or which legislator they should go to for the upcoming session in January.
Leslie asked for opinions on legislative priorities for any of the school districts for the upcoming 85th Legislature.
Dr. Carl A. Montoya, superintendent of Judson ISD, said more representation is needed to be taken seriously by the Legislature.
“I’ve been to Austin every year for the last eight or nine years to talk to legislators,” Montoya said.
“They’re very nice and very positive, but it’s basically, ‘Hi, how are you? Have a good day, goodbye.’”
Montoya said they don’t need to lose the strategy of going to Austin, but a change in the kind of groups that represent their district or college could be helpful.
“If we get a different group like the community, parents or students to show up, they’ll take it more seriously,” Montoya said. “If we could get students to show up with our message, I think it would be impactful.”
Leslie agreed with Montoya, saying the legislators treat them as if it was business as usual, hearing them out and moving on.
“They see us as the hired guns coming in. They’ll be polite, but they don’t really respond to us,” Leslie said.
“Most of us who have given testimony know the majority go into the back room and aren’t even there when we’re presenting. You’re talking to two or three people so it’s very frustrating,” Leslie said.