Char-Koosta News

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Gov. Bullock announces ambitious Dual Enrollment Incentive Program

By Lailani Upham

PABLO — Lieutenant Governor Angela McLean announced last week at the Confederated Salish and Kootenai community meeting the launch of the recent Dual Enrollment Incentive Pilot Program for the state of Montana to improve access and affordability to college credit classes for high school students.

McLean said it is a great opportunity for the Flathead Reservation community high school students, teachers and Salish Kootenai College.

The pilot project will last for two years and will go into effect in the fall of 2014.

Dual enrollment classes are in-person classes where students earn both college credits and high school grades at half the price of tuition at a college or university.

Teachers who hold master’s degrees will have the opportunity to teach a dual class and earn credit coupons to be used toward classes for themselves at a Montana university system or tribal college. The credits are also transferrable, meaning the credit can be given to a family member or friend.

Teachers may also transfer the credit coupons to their students to give them a leg-up in their college career, or simply show a student who might have thought he or she weren’t college material that it is a viable path.

McLean says this opportunity is key to this area - it will allow more students to transition to SKC who may not have thought they could afford to go off to college and can cut costs by remaining at home and earn a degree.

She added that Gov. Bullock is committed to seeing funding come into tribal colleges that allow both non-native and native students to attend.

The program is funded by the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education.

According to Gov. Bullock’s office in-person classes are shown to be the most effective method for dual enrollment instruction. Currently, only 30 percent of Montana students taking part in dual enrollment classes are doing so in-person and the remainder are taking classes online. A recent national study found that high school students who participate in dual enrollment programs were 23 percent more likely to earn an associate’s or bachelor’s degree.

“As a former teacher, I’ve seen students that might otherwise struggle to cover the costs enter college with full semesters under their belt,” McLean stated. “This program will help to expand opportunities for all Montana students, especially those in rural areas.”

National studies have also shown that dual enrollment participation was associated with greater than average gains for: low-income, lower achieving, and male students.

Gov. Bullock laid out an ambitious goal in his State of the State address saying he wants to see the number of Montanans with a college degree or career certificate go from 40 to 60 percent in the next decade. He also made it a priority to reduce the time to degree for Montana college students.

“This is about supporting teachers to improve college access and affordability for Montana students and families,” stated Clayton Christian, Commissioner of Higher Education and partner on the program.

The time is limited.

“Salish Kootenai College is excited about the opportunities for students and teachers this initiative can provide for our community. We are currently in the process of understanding all of the pieces involved in the program and what role SKC will play. There are still conversations to be had and details to be worked out, but the necessary conversations have begun and we are optimistic that once all of the pieces are in place and expectations are clearly defined, SKC will be fully engaged in partnership to make this initiative accessible to teachers in our community,” stated SKC President Robert DePoe III.

Any high school teacher with a master’s degree that teaches at an accredited public or private school is eligible to receive these coupons for teaching concurrent dual enrollment classes. Each teacher can earn up to 24 credit coupons over the two-year period.

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