The ability for a student to earn “early college” credit takes multiple forms in Minnesota. Students who meet eligibility requirements for PSEO (post-secondary education options) can take tuition-free college courses at a college campus, online or at their high school. They can take rigorous secondary courses like Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate and take and score high enough on their exam series to be granted college credit equivalences. They can take and score high enough on other national challenge exams like CLEP (College Level Exam Program), New York Foreign Language Proficiency Exams, or NOCTI (National Occupational Competency Testing Institute). They can also participate in an articulated high school to college course or earn an industry recognized certificate.
Minnesota school districts and Minnesota State Colleges and Universities are actively working together to expand opportunities for secondary students to earn college credit while they are still in high school. Several national studies have shown that high students who earn early college credit require less developmental coursework in college, are retained in post-secondary education at higher rates and have a higher probability of completing a college degree than students who do not earn early college credit.
As school districts, colleges and universities partner to design early college programming, there are a few factors the partnership should consider as they design the early college program.
The conferring of a post-secondary degree-
Minnesota State Colleges and Universities are individually accredited to confer post-secondary degrees by the Higher Learning Commission. As a federally recognized accrediting agency, the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) is required to assure that all its member institutions are meeting their Title IV program responsibilities as well as complying with the expectations of specific regulations accreditors must enforce as a part of their recognition by the U.S. Department of Education. Compliance with these requirements by both institutions and HLC is necessary to ensure that institutions accredited by the HLC are eligible for federal financial aid.
As part of their Assumed Practices, the Higher Learning Commission currently mandates “The institution maintains structures or practices that ensure the coherence and quality of the programs for which it awards a degree. Typically institutions will require that at minimum 30 of the 120 credits earned for the bachelor’s degree and 15 of the 60 credits for the associate’s degree be credits earned at the institution itself, through arrangements with other accredited institutions, or through contractual relationships approved by the Commission. Any variation from the typical minima must be explained and justified.” This acknowledgement is commonly known as the faculty residency credit requirement in higher education. A link to this document can be found at http://ncahlc.org/
MnSCU System Procedure 3.36 on Academic Programs currently states:
• At least one-third of the credits in the undergraduate certificate shall be taught by the faculty recommending the award. This requirement may be decreased upon recommendation by the faculty and approval by the president of the institution.
• At least one-third of the credits in the diploma shall be taught by the faculty recommending the award. This requirement may be decreased upon recommendation by the faculty and approval by the president of the college.
• At least 20 credits in the associate in arts degree shall be taught by the faculty recommending the award. This requirement may be decreased upon recommendation of the faculty and approval by the president of the college or university.
• Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Academic Policy Council is currently reviewing System Procedure 3.3.6 to suggest aligning with the new standards set by Higher Learning Commission. This will be discussed in September.
• Advise developing partnerships to adhere to the HLC framework in their design leveraging faculty expertise on campus, online or even at the high school site. Where appropriate hire credentialed concurrent enrollment teachers as adjunct faculty members of the college.
Program replication—if more than 50% of the post-secondary degree takes place off campus, the post-secondary institution must seek Higher Learning Commission’s approval for program replication for each off site location they intend to confer a degree.
Requirements to teach concurrent enrollment courses-
The Higher Learning Commission, National Association of Concurrent Enrollment Programs and Minnesota State Colleges and Universities all require concurrent enrollment high school teachers to meet the same requirements of college instructors teaching the same course for quality assurance purposes.
• The Higher Learning Commission specifically mentions in their Assumed Practices For Accreditation-" Instructors (excluding for this requirement teaching assistants enrolled in a graduate program and supervised by faculty) possess an academic degree relevant to what they are teaching and at least one level above the level at which they teach, except in programs for terminal degrees or when equivalent experience is established
• National Association of Concurrent Enrollment Programs specifically states in their standards- "Instructors teaching college or university courses through the concurrent enrollment program meet the academic requirements for faculty and instructors teaching in the sponsoring post-secondary institution."
• MnSCU system procedure 3.5.1 on Post-Secondary Education Options states- "The minimum qualifications for concurrent enrollment instructors shall be those determined by the college or university of record, consistent with the following:
1. For two-year colleges, the system established credential fields and minimum qualifications for faculty are designated in Board Policy 3.32 and System Procedure 3.32.1 College Faculty Credentialing.
2. For state universities, minimum qualifications for faculty are determined by academic departments.
When no teacher in the high school meets these qualifications, the partners shall explore a variety of options for providing access to courses through the PSEO program, including:
1. on-line courses taught by college or university faculty members;
2. on-campus college or university courses; and
3. college and university courses offered by a college or university faculty member in the high school.
If the partners determine that none of these options is feasible, and with the approval of the school district and the college or university as specified in Subpart E. of this procedure, a teacher who does not meet the minimum qualifications may be approved to teach a concurrent enrollment course based on evidence of a combination of substantial teaching experience, advanced coursework appropriate to the discipline, and/or other relevant experience and expertise. Approval to teach a PSEO concurrent enrollment course on this basis may be made contingent upon:
1. completion of additional graduate coursework;
2. field experiences; or
3. a program of structured independent study appropriate to the discipline or credential field within mutually agreed upon time parameters.
A high school teacher who was approved as a concurrent enrollment instructor prior to November 10, 2008 may continue to teach the same course or courses at the discretion of the college or university of record after consultation with the faculty member assigned to work with that high school teacher. "
Minnesota Department of Education and Minnesota State Colleges and Universities
• Will work with our universities to promote graduate courses in field for interested concurrent enrollment teachers who have not yet met credentialing standards to be scheduled at convenient and accessible times to adhere to teaching schedule and/or offered online.
• Will work with our Schools of Education to offer information to the graduate students of the benefits of taking additional courses in field if they have a future interest in teaching concurrent enrollment.
• Will develop more of a standardized approach to professional development with concurrent enrollment.