U-46 board approves expanding dual-credit partnership with ECC
The Elgin Area School District U-46 school board Monday night approved expanding the district's partnership with Elgin Community College allowing more high school students to earn college credit.
The partnership will cost U-46 roughly $3 million over the 2019-2024 fiscal years.
U-46 students have participated in a dual-credit program at ECC for the past two years, earning 1,229 college credits with a cumulative grade-point average of 3.22 in 2017-18, and 626 credits and a cumulative GPA of 3.42 so far this school year.
Students from all five district high schools and its Dream Academy alternative program can take either dual-credit classes at their high schools or enroll in an Early College program at ECC. Previously, the only dual-credit option U-46 offered involved students taking full-time courses at ECC.
For the Early College program, students can start taking college-level courses their junior year at ECC, simultaneously earning credit toward high school graduation and an associate degree, U-46 lead counselor Christopher Boden said.
U-46 would cover the $132 per credit hour tuition cost for students taking classes at ECC.
"Secondly, we will offer dual-credit classes within each of our comprehensive high schools, which will be taught by U-46 staff," said Boden, adding this shift is part of the district's plan to transition its high schools to a college and career academy model.
Each high school could offer up to 10 dual-credit classes beginning in the 2020-21 school year. Students would pay $50 per course.
Students must meet ECC's entrance requirements to enroll in either dual-credit program -- an unweighted grade-point average of 3.0 or higher, and accomplishment of readiness benchmarks for reading, writing and math in the SAT or ACT college entrance exams. Students enrolled in both programs will be allowed to participate in Illinois High School Association-sanctioned activities.
A majority of students participating in dual-credit courses over the past two years have been white (39 percent), Latino (32 percent) and Asian (25 percent).
Officials anticipate the expanded dual-credit programs will appeal to a larger segment of U-46's student population due to the inclusion of IHSA-sanctioned activities and ECC's new college entrance requirements.
"We expect a much stronger interest and a much larger number of students potentially eligible for the program, which hopefully should allow us to be a little more selective and get a little bit closer to those district demographics," Boden said.
This fall, officials plan to enroll 50 high school seniors in the Early College program. Enrollment will increase to 100 juniors and seniors in 2020. By 2021-22, the first group of students will receive their high school diplomas and associate degrees.
District officials will begin recruiting and training teachers this spring/summer to teach dual-credit courses at the high schools. Students must apply in the fall for classes in the winter or spring.