Republicans in the General Assembly inserted in the mid biennium review bill, HB 487, a program which sounds like it could be connected to Common Core. The program, College Credit Plus (CCP), provides free full and part time college credit to public and private secondary school students who meet the admission requirements of a partnering college, usually a local community college.taxpayer

What’s the connection with Common Core? Well, just look for the buzz words peppered in a report by Board of Regents’ Chancellor John Carey that describes the program. Carey mentions several times that College Credit Plus will increase college and career readiness. And there is a significant student data tracking component. The report describes the data collection goals as follows:

“Systemwide, all secondary and postsecondary institutions consistently collect, report and track college credit plus data to identify the students enrolled, the courses offered and taken, credits earned, the instructor qualifications, student performances and agreement innovations.”

Previous law required Ohio school districts to offer students the opportunity to take college courses, but the option was not formally structured or widely promoted. HB 487 works to increase the participation rate in dual enrollment by putting in place a formal program and requiring school districts to actively promote it to parents and students.

HB 487 requires all school districts and public colleges in the state to participate in CCP. School districts must partner with a college and put together an array of classes that make-up two college pathways, a 15 credit hour path and a 30 credit hour path. Students who start the program early enough (Freshman/Sophomore years) and plan their schedules accordingly can earn a two-year General Associates of Arts Degree paid for by the taxpayer.

School districts can have students access the program at their high schools through classes taught by district staff who have been certified as adjunct professors or by professors from the partner college. Students may also take courses at the partner college.

A Mini-College Within A School District

For districts offering college classes on-site with their own staff, the districts are, in effect, setting up a mini-college within the district partly paid for by local tax dollars and supported by local taxpayer resources. State funding will cover a portion of the tuition, but this fee will nowhere near cover all costs to school districts when one considers the administration of the program, the counseling requirements, the higher salaries the adjunct professors will demand, the costs of textbooks, and the space and resources needed to offer the program on top of the traditional high school curriculum.

Ohio school districts already offer opportunities for high school students to earn college credit through Advanced Placement (AP) and/or International Baccalaureate (IB) courses. College credit for AP and IB classes is accepted by most of the elite public and private universities across the country. Why is another college credit option necessary?

CCP Changes Scope of Ohio’s Secondary Public School System

CCP signficantly changes the scope of public education at the secondary level. For decades, Ohio taxpayers have embraced the notion of a free public education through twelfth grade, but when did the public consciously extend that free education through the second year of college? Missing from news reports and Chancellor Carey’s report are any cost estimates for the program. Just how much is College Credit Plus going to cost the Ohio taxpayer?

An article promoting College Credit Plus on Lorain County Community College’s website explains the benefits to students,

“As college tuition gets more and more expensive – for the freshman and sophomore years, the costs at some of Ohio’s public colleges and universities can be more than $20,000 – providing a consistent dual enrollment program for high school students can lead to savings for students and their parents.”

Sounds like a win for the individual student, but someone’s footing the bill.  It’s the local taxpayer.

A report cited on the U.S. Department of Education website, “Dual Enrollment: Lessons Learned on School-Level Implementation,” touches on the cost issue,

“Dual Enrollment adds significant expenses to the traditional high school program, which must be paid by the state, the district, the partnering institution of higher education, or the students. These costs include tuition, textbooks, and transportation, as well as other expenses including college placement tests and lab fees.”

Unfortunately for Ohio taxpayers, it does not appear that projected costs were a significant consideration before CCP became law. Now that CCP is in place, Ohio school districts will be scrambling to determine how the program will be funded.

The State of Ohio’s brief overview of the program can be found HERE.