The Wisconsin Technical College System requested continuation and expansion of the dual enrollment options for the 2017-19 budget. WTCS requested $2.8 million in 2017-18 and $2.8 million in 2018-19 in “new state investment to enable WTCS colleges to implement new or expand existing best practices and provide scholarship opportunities to ensure that high school teachers teaching WTCS dual enrollment courses meet new minimum accreditation requirements.”
According to documentation from WTCS, ”Articulation/Dual Credit refers to aligning high school and postsecondary curricula to create sequences of courses offering skill attainment with unnecessary duplication. Articulation focuses on providing opportunities for high school students to take college level course work to get a head start on earning college credits while continuing to fulfill high school graduation requirements.” There are two types of dual credit – advanced standing and transcripted credit. Transcripted credit allows high school students to receive WTCS credit, and high school credit, by attending courses taught at a local area high school by qualified high school teachers. In 2014-15, 30,167 high school students earned over 117,217 WTCS college credits. Participation in dual enrollment classes has increased at WTCS by over 57% in the past five years.
WTCS says, “Several studies have shown that students who participate in dual enrollment programs are more likely than their peers to finish high school, enroll in college and complete a degree. One longitudinal study (2008-2010) of students in 20 local area high schools, found that students earning dual credit from Fox Valley Technical College were more likely than their peers to experience a significantly higher rate of early college success and retention, graduate from college more quickly (i.e., within three years), and have higher rates of employment and earnings at age 22.” In addition, WTCS estimates that in 2015 the dual enrollment program provides the opportunity to save between $14.6 million and $19.7 million towards college degrees.
The accrediting body, Higher Learning Commission (HLC), accredits WTCS, the UW System and members of the Wisconsin Association of Independent Colleges and Universities. In March, HLC announced new minimum qualifications for high school teachers of dual enrollment courses. This requires the high school teachers to hold a master’s degree in the subject they are teaching. According to WTCS, approximately 85% of Wisconsin high school teachers teaching WTCS courses don’t yet meet the new HLC requirements. WTCS, UW System and WAICU is required to comply with the new requirement by September 2017, although institutions may apply for an extension through 2022. The risk of non-compliance is student’s earned credits will not be recognized by other institutions and the institution could lose accreditation. WTCS is requesting funding to provide financial incentives to assist high school dual enrollment teachers in meeting the new requirements. WTCS suggested providing scholarship funds to reimburse teachers in each of the 16 WTCS districts taking graduate level courses each year.