Texas universities collaborate to increase dual-credit value

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Photo Credit: Courtesy of Texas OnRamps and Strategic Initiatives

UT is partnering with other Texas colleges universities in a collaboration designed to determine the best model for dual-credit courses.

Dual-credit courses allow high school juniors and seniors to enroll in college courses to earn both college and high school credit. The new project, the Texas OnRamps Dual Credit Innovation Collaborative, is designed to ensure the long-term value of dual-credit opportunities for students.

Julie Schell, director of Texas OnRamps and Strategic Initiatives, said dual-credit courses have the potential to offer significant benefits to students by saving money on college tuition and bridging the gap between high school and college academic expectations.

“Dual credit has the power to really change students’ opportunities if done well,” Schell said. “By lowering those two barriers [of cost and the difficult academic transition], you increase the potential for college completion and college success.”

On request, Texas public institutions of higher education are required to assist school districts in developing a program for students to earn 12 hours of college credit while in high school, according to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

In the fall of 2015, there were more than 133,000 Texas high school students enrolled in dual-credit courses, compared to about 12,000 dual-credit students in the fall of 1999, according to the THECB.

The rise of dual-credit enrollment has garnered the attention of some Texas policymakers, who have voiced concerns about the need for dual-credit reform.

Schell said the problem is not all dual-credit courses have the same impact on the students.

Biochemistry sophomore Michael Akanji said he took two dual-credit courses in high school.

“The dual-credit classes weren’t nearly as challenging as my college classes have been,” Akanji said. “ … but it did help me become familiar with the structure of most college classes.”

The new collaborative was designed to bring together leading educational innovators to share the best practices and determine more consistent standards for administering dual-credit courses.

The universities participating in the collaborative include UT, Austin Community College, El Paso Community College, Houston Community College and Texas Tech University.