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How dual credit helps create a college-going culture, February 24

2016
The dual-credit system has really caught fire in Texas, says William Serrata, President
of El Paso Community College and AACRAO Consultant. Its becoming a crucial part of
the recruitment puzzle across the country for community colleges and four-year
institutions, as well.
Superseding AP? A dual credit system is one important way to reach out to students,
especially Hispanic students who may be first-generation college attendees, and get
them not only to enroll in collegebut also to succeed.
Its really starting to replace the old system of AP credit. That credit required students
to take an exam for college creditwhich was an expense to students, and also caused
delays in awarding credit, Serrata said. And its often only available in wealthier
districts and areas with higher socioeconomic status.
In contrast, dual credit institutions often waive tuition and fees for high school students,
and college credit is awarded as long as the student passes the classwith no additional
exam necessary. And the admissions process isnt watered down, Serrata says. The
high school applicant must still demonstrate college readiness through test scores and
an application process, and is learning from teachers who often have more rigorous
credentials than AP teachers, who typically only need a bachelors in their field. Dual
credit instructors must have a Masters degree and field experience in order to teach.
The numbers add up. In both retention rates and success rates, dual credit students
outperform every segment of the student body, Serrata says. The data show that the
kids who participate are achieving well beyond their peers in terms of grades and
graduation rates. Some students are even earning enough dual credit to receive up to
an associate degree before they even graduate high school.
I monitor the dual credit population at my institution and statewide, Serrata said. The
last time Texas collected this data2009showed that students had significantly higher
persistence and graduation rates than other segments of the student body.
In El Paso County, Texas, where Serratas institution is, about 54 percent of high school
graduates go on to college on average. For Fall 2015 in my county, 80 percent of
students with prior dual credit went on to college or university, Serrata said. Thats
almost a 30 percent difference on matriculation rates. Success and graduation statistics
are equally as impressive, Serrata adds.
Raising the bar. The state of Texas has taken notice of the success of these systems,
and in the last legislative session it removed restrictions on dual creditlowering the age
requirement from junior in high school to freshman and removing the limit on number of
classes per semester. Since tuition and fees are often waived, this gives students who
may not otherwise have been able to afford college a concrete start toward a college
degree while still in high schoolpotentially even an associates degree in the process.

Were looking to expand and enhance educational opportunities, Serrata said. But we
always do so with the highest rigor and quality and continue to raise the bar for our
studentsand know that our students will continue to rise to those expectations.
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