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June 09, 2015

Missouri higher education board strengthens policy for dual credit classes

Missouri’s Coordinating Board for Higher Education has revised the state’s policy for dual credit programs that give students an opportunity to earn college credit while attending high school.

Higher education officials say the changes strengthen Missouri’s guidelines for dual credit classes to ensure they offer high-quality, college-level instruction. The classes, taught by instructors approved by the college or university that provides the classes, count for both high school and college credit.

Dual credit classes are offered by 33 Missouri colleges and universities at about 600 high schools in the state. More than 40,000 students enroll in the classes each year.

“Dual credit programs can help students successfully transition from high school to college and allow them to save time and money as they work toward a degree,” said Rusty Monhollon, assistant commission for academic affairs at the Missouri Department of Higher Education.

The changes to the dual credit policy include stricter guidelines for instructors teaching the classes. In most cases, instructors must have a degree relevant to the subject they are teaching that is at least one level above the level at which they teach.

The new guidelines also align the state’s dual credit policy with national guidelines established by the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships and the Higher Learning Commission.

“One of the primary purposes of the revised policy is to ensure that higher education institutions across the state deliver quality, college-level instruction in innovative ways that will help prepare more students to succeed in college,” Monhollon said.

David Russell, Missouri commissioner of higher education, said dual credit programs are an important tool to help the state achieve its goal of increasing educational attainment.

“By 2018, nearly 60 percent of jobs in Missouri will require a two- or four-year degree or professional certificate,” Russell said. “Missouri has set a goal for 60 percent of working-age adults to have a degree or certificate by 2025. A comprehensive dual credit program for college-bound students can help us reach our goal.”

The revised policy also establishes an Early College Advisory Board that will assist the department with monitoring Missouri’s dual credit programs to assure the integrity of the programs. The board will be comprised of 13 members representing public and private two- and four-year colleges and universities that offer dual credit programs and one at-large member.

The policy was developed by officials from the Department of Higher Education, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, and public and private colleges and universities in Missouri. The new policy will become effective Jan.1, 2016.

For more information about Missouri’s dual credit policy, visit dhe.mo.gov/cota/dualcredit.php.