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Future of dual credit for students

New leader of dual credit appointed; update on current status

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PNW announced Anne Gregory as the new director of dual credit on Sept. 11, taking over for Jeff Shires, associate professor of communication, who held the position during the 2016-17 school year.

In addition to dual credit, formally referred to as concurrent enrollment, Gregory also serves as director of the School of Education and Counseling. Gregory, who said she was contacted by Ralph O. Mueller, vice chancellor for Academic Affairs and Provost, regarding the opportunity served as chair of the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at Northern Illinois University before arriving at PNW in July.

“I’m truly excited by the possibilities that leading concurrent enrollment provides for students in schools and districts, teachers, faculty members at PNW and our community,” Gregory said.

Shires said he learned of his dismissal as director of dual credit from William Law, interim associate vice chancellor, on Aug. 23.

“I was informed that the provost had informed Law that he and Chancellor Keon wished to reorganize the office and that my services were no longer needed for concurrent enrollment,” Shires said. “I am advising Dr. Gregory on any questions she may have.”

The dual credit program consists of college courses taught at high schools to high school students as a way for high schoolers to acquire college credits prior to enrolling in college. High school students who participate in PNW’s dual credit program are not required to enroll at PNW for college, though some do.

Gregory said there has been a decrease in concurrent enrollment offerings this fall, and Shires said the decrease in enrollment for dual credit amounts to around 15,000 credit hours. From 2012-14 the retention rate of dual credit students prior to the unification of PNW was 11 percent, which led to an income of $2.4 million. With PNW facing a budget deficit of approximately $8 million for 2017, earlier this year Shires said if PNW were able to retain 25 percent of its dual credit students, it would result in an income of $6.6 million, alleviating some of the deficit concerns. Shires and Gregory said they are unaware of the current status of retention of dual credit students and the progress of increasing retention to 25 percent.

Gregory said her immediate plan as director of dual credit is to establish a Professional Advisory Committee for Concurrent Enrollment by early November that will help to create a strategic plan of action.

“I am embarking on a ‘listening tour’ with internal and external partners to gather information about concurrent enrollment in their districts and to identify their needs and wants and how PNW might work with districts to meet these,” Gregory said. “In general, to collect the insights, ideas, and context from others before making any decisions.”

Faculty Senate set a deadline of Sept. 1, 2019 for all dual credit instructors to meet the Higher Learning Commission’s minimum requirements in order to continue instructing dual credit courses for PNW. This deadline was imposed due to 86 of the 281 instructors not meeting the requirements, leading to concerns about the quality of instruction of PNW’s dual credit courses. Shires and Gregory said they are unsure of the level of progress made.

Earlier this year, Shires said the state of Indiana created a pot of funds in 2016 of $2,000 per instructor to assist in getting instructors qualified, though no funds had actually been added to it up to that point. Shires said he does not know of any future funding plans, but since legislature has adjourned, the earliest funds would be made available in most likely the 2019-20 session.

“Indiana University has made available graduate coursework, at no charge, for instructors affiliated with their dual credit program in a select number of disciplines,” Shires said. “Vincennes University has also made arrangements for instructors affiliated with their program to enroll in graduate courses at reduced costs.”

Staci Trekles, a member of Faculty Senate, said Crown Point High School, one of PNW’s larger dual credit partners, was upset with the deadline of Sept. 1, 2019, for all dual credit instructors to meet the commission’s requirement guidelines. Due to the deadline imposed by Faculty Senate, the prospect of partnering high schools involved with PNW’s dual credit program going elsewhere for dual credit opportunities became a concern.

“If they’re upset with PNW, they’re gonna point students away from us and to other schools,” Trekles said at Faculty Senate meeting earlier this year.

Shires said that some school districts in the area have decided not to partner with PNW for dual credit, including Crown Point High School and Duneland (Chesterton) High School, though he is unsure of who they currently partner with for dual credit.

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