Underclassmen encouraged to pursue college credit while in high school

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - A change in state law clarifies what students at Wilsonville High School can participate in dual college credit courses.A change in state law furthers Gov. John Kitzhaber’s education reform efforts, clarifying who can participate in dual college credit courses — and helping more students to do so.

Kitzhaber on March 3 signed Senate Bill 1574A, which involves changing a state statute governing dual credit options — classes high schoolers take to receive college credit and secondary school credit simultaneously. Adding that students “in any grade from nine through 12” can take such courses replaces language that did not specify grade levels, and the bill requires programs to clearly show how students can get credit. The bill also expands the duties of the Accelerated Learning Committee, which will seek out and study community colleges that have adequate funding and meet the financial needs of the community they’re in, state documents state. Both sides of the aisle were unanimous on HB 1574A with a couple of lawmakers out on excused absences.


The law was one of several education-related bills the state Legislature reviewed during the regular 2014 session, which adjourned March 7. The hub connecting many of the legislative spokes is the governor’s 40-40-20 goal, which became law in 2011. The 40-40-20 goal is that by 2025 all adult Oregonians will have a high school diploma or equivalent, 40 percent of them will have an associate degree or a “meaningful postsecondary certificate” and 40 percent will possess a bachelor’s or advanced degree.

“Our work this February will improve access to community college for low-income Oregonians. ... With the close of session, we will maintain our focus on pursuing a world-class system of public education,” Kitzhaber said in a prepared statement.

Lakeridge, West Linn and Wilsonville high schools’ principals weighed in on the potential impact of HB 1574A.

“A central part of being a college prep high school is providing rigorous classes taught by high-quality teachers who are committed to preparing students to be successful at the university level,” Lakeridge High School Principal Jennifer Schiele said. “We offer numerous opportunities for students to earn college credit at Lakeridge, and we continue to explore new, meaningful avenues to do this. That said, we do want to remember that we are a college prep high school, not a college.”

Schiele noted that the school now offers intellectually and developmentally appropriate curricula.

“While some of our freshmen may be ready for college-level courses, we are also comfortable with the fact that our freshmen are making the transition to high school, not college,” she said. “Education takes time.”

Wilsonville High School Principal Aaron Downs said he’s going to be learning more about the bill as he and his staff prepare for next fall.


“We appreciate encouraging and empowering high school students to pursue a college education,” Downs said. “That is one of the main aims of the bill as I understand it. I’m sure high schools across the state of Oregon will continue to work creatively when it comes to helping our students go to college after high school.”

West Linn High School Principal Lou Bailey said dual credit is an important topic of conversation and its “assistance to students as a method to obtain college credit is widely recognized.”

Another bill that came before the Legislature that could have affected K-12 was House Bill 4127A, which was sent back to committee and not revisited by the close of the session. It would have required that four of the 13-member OEIB must work or have worked in primary or secondary education to the Oregon Education Investment Board.

The OEIB represents kindergarten to college students and efforts to transition people into the work force. Kitzhaber spurred its creation while pursuing his education reforms.

Linking back to the freshly minted dual credit option changes — OEIB provides staff support to the Accelerated Learning Committee, which was established in 2013 to examine ways to encourage and enable students to obtain college credits while still in high school. SB 1574A is a great way to further that effort, said Hilda Rosselli, college and career readiness director, Office of the Chief Education Officer, Oregon Education Investment Board.

“If there’s a lack of clarity around information about what options are available — and sometimes there’s not even equity across the options — families and students may have a very limited idea of what’s available and what they can take advantage of,” Rosselli said.

The committee’s report to interim legislative committees on education regarding recommendations for how to increase students’ access to college credit courses is due Oct. 1.

By Jillian Daley
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