Governor Dennis Daugaard’s Weekly Column: The Value Of Dual Credit Courses

daugaardheader DaugaardThe Value Of Dual Credit Courses
A column by Gov. Dennis Daugaard:

Like other young South Dakotans, Kelcie Hauf of Dell Rapids is getting ready to head back to school. As a high school senior, Kelcie is trying to decide which field to study when she graduates. Rather than wait until she gets to college to explore career options, Kelcie is participating in the dual credit program. Because she is considering a career in counseling, Kelcie took a dual credit introductory speech course last spring. This fall she will be utilizing the dual credit program to take Psychology 101 to explore that career path further.

Dual credit courses allow students like Kelcie to simultaneously earn high school and college credit. At only $40 per credit hour, these courses provide students and their families significant cost savings. These are the cheapest university or technical school credits a student will ever take, and they can save hundreds of dollars by taking just one course. Last year, South Dakota students saved more than $2.5 million by using this program – averaging more than $1000 per student in savings.

At a time when the cost of college is a great concern, dual credit courses are a great way to save money. They also save time, making it more likely that students will graduate on time. Every dual credit course taken in high school is a course that need not be taken in college.

In its first year, this program has been a tremendous success. Last year, 1,946 public, private, Bureau of Indian Education, tribal and homeschool students participated, with a pass rate of 92.76 percent. Thirty-nine districts had at least one quarter of their juniors and seniors complete courses.

Many students take dual credit courses online, which provides greater flexibility in scheduling.  These courses also make dual credit available to students who are not near a university or technical institute.

Just as Kelcie is doing, students can explore their interests with dual credit.  A student who might want to study robotics or medical lab technology after high school could take an introductory course from one of the state’s technical institutes to try out the program before making a final decision. If the student then decides to pursue that career, he or she has a jump start on a degree. Or perhaps a student wants to take a college algebra course not available at the local district. He or she could take that course from a state university.

With dual credit, students take college-level courses while still having the support of their local high school educators who can help them develop the skills they will need, like stronger time management and study skills. In fact, data shows that students who take dual credit do better when they go on to college or a technical institute – even after adjusting for grade point average, ACT scores and other performance indicators.

Today, more than ever before, it’s important for young people to continue their education beyond high school. The escalating number of people earning degrees and the increasingly competitive global economy require today’s workforce to have greater skill sets and more education. Dual credit can help prepare our students for that next step.

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2 thoughts on “Governor Dennis Daugaard’s Weekly Column: The Value Of Dual Credit Courses”

  1. The fact that students are given university credits for high school classes is another example of the dumbing-down of our educational system. Public officials, university administrators, high school administrators, high school teachers, and students and their parents can all pat themselves on the back and feel good about saving money in college and graduating early, but anyone with common sense and objectivity knows that with very few exceptions, dual credit classes are not taught at the same level and by teachers with the same degree of knowledge and ability as are university courses. I am no fan of Advanced Placement courses either, but at least with AP courses, students have to pass a test to receive the credits. Of course, that is largely meaningless because the teachers simply teach to the test. I have decades of teaching experience at the university and high-school levels, including in dual-credit programs, and I know first-hand how much of a sham dual-credit courses are.

    1. Do me a favor: talk to Ricky Ganci, English teacher at Brookings High School. He’s the perfect example of why everything you just said is a load of BS.

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