By Travis Volz
With the costs of higher education ever increasing, local high schools are working with Kaskaskia College to provide dual-credit classes for students.
Both high schools in the county have agreements to offer classes for college credit in house, though offering those classes has become more challenging in the last few years.
According to KC President George Evans, a rule put in place by the Higher Learning Commission requiring additional qualifications for teachers cut into the offerings.
The HLC accredits post-secondary education institutions in the central United States. Among the new requirements is that high school teachers obtain a master’s degree in the subject being taught.
“When the HLC put in the new qualifications in 2017, we lost approximately 5,000 credit hours between all of the schools in our area,” Evans said.
Evans said that over the last few years, by working with administrators and teachers, approximately 60 percent of those lost hours have been recouped.
Okawville High School has fared well despite the more stringent requirements, as students have access to up to 57 hours of dual credit classes.
Principal Keith Senior said that his teachers responded to the new requirements by working toward master’s degrees.Senior said that when the new requirements were announced, teachers were given waiver to keep teaching as long as they were working toward completing the advanced degree.
“Our teachers dug in and got the work done so they could keep teaching those classes,” he said. “I think we’re in a strong position among the 14 high schools in the KC district.”
Among the dual-credit classes at Okawville are advanced math classes (college algebra, trigonometry), sciences (chemistry, physics, biology), Spanish and English, among others.
Nashville High School took a hit in the number of its offering when a science teacher moved to a different district last year, but still has multiple options including multiple technical education classes.
According to principal Mark Begando, the school is no longer offering Chemistry I and Chemistry II as dual-credit classes after Jean Orr left the district last year.
Previously, Nashville High School had also offered Biology II and Anatomy and Physiology for college credit, but those classes are also no longer available, though students still electing to take the classes.
“Kids are still interested in the science courses even though they are only for high school credit,” Begando said.
Though the science classes have maintained enrollment numbers, Begando said that higher-level math classes have had fewer students since losing their dual-credit status.
Nashville still offers multiple dual-credit classes, including Honors English, history, accounting, psychology, and yearbook.
Additionally, the school has multiple technical education classes, including formatting, horticulture, drafting, and more.