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May 9, 2013

CHS dual enrollment program changing

CULLMAN — Cullman High School is making some changes to the dual enrollment program next school year, in an effort to adhere to new state standards.

The statewide Plan 2020 is scheduled to go into effect in the 2013-2014 school year, which replaces the graduation exam with end-of-course tests for core subjects. Superintendent Dr. Jan Harris said the changeover has led the system to restructure its dual enrollment offerings.

Once the change takes effect, dual-enrollment students will be required to take core classes (i.e. math, English) on-campus at Cullman High School, and will not be allowed to take the course at nearby Wallace State Community College. But, Harris said the system is putting a plan together now to offer dual enrollment core courses on-campus at the high school, hopefully by next school year. All non-core courses can still be taken at Wallace State as part of a dual enrollment program.

Approximately 40 students currently take dual enrollment courses or participate in the Fast Track programs.

“With Plan 2020, it has created a paradigm shift,” Harris explained. “Because of these changes, a question of accountability has been raised for students  taking end of course tests for classes taken off-campus. Because of that, the course catalog has been reworked.”

Harris said the college is putting together a plan now to offer dual enrollment core courses at the high school, taught by school teachers, though the details have not yet been finalized.

“We’re working on an agreement to offer some of those at school, embedded with Advanced Placement (AP) classes, but that isn’t finished,” Harris said. “So, if students want dual enrollment English, we can offer that through an AP class, but they would not be going somewhere — they would be taking it at the school.”

Due to all the questions at the state level, from the budget to the accountability plan, Cullman High Principal Dr. Elton Bouldin said several questions remain for exactly how the program will work in future years. But, regardless, he said offering dual enrollment courses remains a top priority.

“It’s still changing, and as we transition from No Child Left Behind to Common Core there are still a lot of unknowns,” he said. “We obviously have to keep up with the changes in curriculum, but we hope to increase the ways students can receive college and high school credits. Absolutely.”

Harris reiterated the dual-enrollment program would remain a collaborative effort with Wallace State.

“We’ve had a long-standing relationship with Wallace, and our students have benefited from the additional offerings,” she said. “We look forward to continuing and improving that. But, it’s the nature of education. We just have to be flexible.”

* Trent Moore can be reached by e-mail at trentm@cullmantimes.com, or by telephone at 734-2131, ext. 220.

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