Isle of Wight dual enrollment growing

Published 12:36 pm Wednesday, June 7, 2017

To cut costs, more teachers are needed

By Ryan Kushner

Staff writer

When it comes to providing more dual enrollment courses in high schools, having credentialed teachers is key.

Isle of Wight County Schools administrators announced plans earlier this year to partner with Paul D. Camp Community College to develop a program that allows high school students taking dual enrollment courses to graduate with an associate’s degree, along with their high school diploma, at no extra cost.

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In order to qualify to teach a certified dual enrollment course, where credits earned can transfer to colleges, the division’s instructors must have a master’s degree in the subject they are teaching, as well as a minimum of 18 hours of graduate experience in that particular field, according to Paul D. Camp Dual Enrollment Coordinator Jeanette Pellegrin.

Currently, Isle of Wight County has seven teachers who meet the criteria, three at Windsor High School and four at Smithfield High School. {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

Exactly how many more are required to provide the associate’s degree option was not immediately available from the schools. The division has stated that it is willing to pay for some of its teachers’ continued education so they can qualify to teach dual enrollment.

Without dual enrollment, a student taking one college credit course outside of the division at Paul D. Camp would pay $148 per credit hour, and an average class of 25 students would cost the division $11,130 if it were to use a non-IWCS instructor, according to a report by the division earlier this year.

Paul D. Camp’s role in the dual enrollment partnership is reviewing the division’s high school teachers to ensure that they qualify to teach a dual enrollment course, according to Paul D. Camp Community College President Dr. Daniel Lufkin.

“The more that you have qualified teachers, the more you can offer dual enrollment within your high school,” said Lufkin.

So, when students at Smithfield or Windsor high schools take a dual enrollment course, they are taking a Paul D. Camp college course, just taught by a high school instructor at the high school. In this way, the opportunity remains cost-free for the division and the student.

Taking dual enrollments in high schools is an advantage, and puts students on an accelerated track toward a degree and at a significantly lower cost, according to Lufkin.

“It’s just going to help them tremendously,” said Lufkin.

Transferring the credits to institutions of higher learning after high school is ultimately up to each university to determine, Lufkin said, though most credits will qualify. Transferring them to a degree program at Paul D. Camp after high school is “seamless,” he said.

In order to take a dual enrollment course, a student must first pass a Virginia Placement Test (VPT), an exam to determine whether they are “college ready,” according to Lufkin.

Since IWCS Superintendent Dr. Jim Thornton took over, the dual enrollment program in the division has flourished, according to Lufkin.

A total of 299 students took dual enrollment credits in Isle of Wight this year, Lufkin said, with Smithfield High School racking up a total of 1,389 total credit hours earned, and Windsor High had 449 hours.

“Which is, of all of the school divisions we work with, the largest number,” said Lufkin of the number of students enrolled. “Which was not the case before Dr. Thornton.”

Isle of Wight Academy, which also works with Paul D. Camp to provide dual enrollment, had 116 students take dual enrollment courses this year and currently has eight teachers credentialed, according to the school’s guidance counselor, Lisa Sumrak.

Paul D. Camp also works with Franklin High School, Southampton Academy, Southampton High School and Suffolk Schools.

Dual enrollment is a win-win for the division and the student, according to Lufkin, but the challenge right now is how to make it more widely available.

“Rural community high schools might have a harder time finding qualified instructors then, say, in northern Virginia,” Lufkin said.

Lufkin said he is working with the division to grow the program.

“We’re working with them now to say, okay, how can we help qualify some of your teachers? What can we do to work together to try and find more qualified teachers?,” said Lufkin.

Though he wants to see that it becomes more widespread, Lufkin said he also must look at it from an integrity standpoint.

“We want to make sure these courses are college-level courses,” Lufkin said.  {/mprestriction}