Bill would streamline standards, credits for dual enrollment programs

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Jason Skolnick and Kenan Softic are seniors at James River High School.

Both have already taken college-level courses.

“Last year I took dual enrollment in U.S. History,” said Skolnick. “I ended up with an A in the class.”

Softic completed two dual enrollment courses last year and this year he’s signed up for British literature.

Dual enrollment courses allow students to earn college credit while still in high school. The students said another benefit is getting a taste of the rigor and expectations they will face after high school.

Marie Skolnick said she supported her son’s decision to knock out some college credits early.

“When I was in high school we didn’t have that,” she said.

The students have already applied to colleges and intend on applying their dual enrollment credits to their future degrees.

Del. Steve Landes (R-Augusta) said dual enrollment can be a time and money saver for many Virginia families.

But Landes, who is also House Education Committee Chairman, said some have found challenges with the process.

“There’s an inconsistency,” he said.

He said credits don’t always transfer they way students might expect.

“They took the class and they thought, ‘Okay, great. This applies for three credit hours when I apply to JMU. Oh, UVA said that only accounts for one credit hour,'” said Landes.

That is why he proposed House Bill 3. It would require the State Council of Higher Education (SCHEV) to establish quality standards for dual enrollment courses, including standards for instructors, materials and content. The courses that meet or exceed the quality standards will be certified as “Universal Transfer Courses.”

That way, students know exactly what they’re taking and exactly how many college credits they will earn — no matter what public institution of higher education they end up at in Virginia.

“It’s pretty much the same material,” said Landes. “Why shouldn’t the credit hours be the same?”

Marie Skolnick said she would support a more streamlined process.

“It would be a shame for them thinking they had gotten that credit after they’ve gone through the stress, the studying, the tests, and then being told a year or two later, ‘Sorry. That’s not going to transfer and you’re going to have to take that class again,'” she said.

Click HERE to read more about House Bill 3.

So far, more than 150 bills have been filed for the upcoming General Assembly session. To see a full list, click HERE.

The first day of session is Jan. 10.

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