One of the first items I read every morning is my Career Tech Update from ACTE. It is great to see what other schools, districts, and states are doing to further advance career and technical education. It is also a little depressing seeing what other districts can do, but, for some reason, my district cannot.
The biggest of these, in my opinion, is the number of high schools that are increasing the amount of dual credit or tech prep with their local colleges. While my district does have a tech prep agreement with the local community college, it is extremely flawed. There are not enough credits available to high school students and in some program areas of study the amount of seat time to earn three credits is up to four times what a college student would need to receive the same credit.
Tech prep programs like ours do not cost the student, high school, or college any money because of Perkins funding. Students are collecting college debt by the truckloads and there is a general push to get more students into post-secondary institutions. By increasing tech prep and dual credit programs, society can address both of these issues.
There are always high school students who are on the border between going to college and joining the workforce immediately after high school. If students could earn more college credits while in high school, they likelihood of the students continuing post-secondary course work would increase – even if it was as a part-time student.
In addition, students who earn tech prep or dual credit do not have to take or re-take these courses in college. This is hard-earned money that these students could be using on upper-level courses. I have actually lost track of how many of my students who have attended the local community college told me that they were bored in their major classes because it was the same content we covered in high school. Why should these students be paying for classes where they already know the content?
Increased tech prep and dual credit programs will encourage more students to take college classes that normally wouldn’t and decrease the amount of student loan debt.