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JALC Dual Credit Program, which lets high schoolers earn college credits, gains national accreditation

Carbondale Southern Illinoisan

Thursday, April 20, 2017  |  Article  |  Barb Eidlin

Education--Elementary and Secondary (36) , Education--Higher (37)

CARTERVILLE — John A. Logan College logged a major accomplishment this week as it received accreditation from the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships (NACEP) for its Dual Credit Program, according to a news release from the college.

The program, which began in 1999, allows high school students who attend one of 11 public or private high schools in the college’s district, or a qualified home-school student, the opportunity to earn college credits while still in high school.

“I am very pleased to recognize the dual credit program at John A. Logan College as one of a select group of 105 concurrent enrollment partnerships nationwide accredited through NACEP’s extensive peer-review process,” said Victoria Zeppelin, chair of the NACEP’s Accreditation Commission. “John A. Logan College has demonstrated to its peers that the college courses it offers in high schools are the same high quality as college courses offered on campus.”

The program is the second college in Illinois to receive this recognition.

Scott Warnesman, director of dual credit and partnerships for JALC, said dual credit classes are taught by college-qualified high school instructors and are taken at the student’s high school or home school.

Over the years, the program has had several incarnations, Warnesman said. At one time it was called Tech Prep, then it was the Partnership for College and Career Success, both of which had their roots in vocational programs. But recent economic challenges changed what high schools were able to offer their students, he said.

“Many of those programs have been cut back, so it made sense to work with the options the school systems had and retool our program to offer students the same leg up," he said.

Warnesman also said a college-qualified instructor must have the same qualifications as some of JALC faculty.

“They have to have a master’s degree in the subject they teach and have completed at least 18 graduate hours," he said. "They work with the same text books and syllabi as the JALC faculty, and the courses have to meet the same objectives.”

They also have the full support of the college.

“They have email accounts, and access to the systems which allow them to report grades, which can be an additional challenge as there are two sets of them — one to reflect the student’s high school marks, and one set to be reflected on the student’s college transcript," Warnesman said.

Warnesman works closely with public and private high schools, as well as with home schools to promote the program, and finds enormous resources in the school guidance counselors.

“I call them team leaders.” he said. “They are the mediators between this office and the dual credit high school faculty.”

The program also finds support from the JALC department liaisons, who meet with the high school faculty and go over syllabi, textbooks and course objectives.

“These people are our boots on the ground," Warnesman said.

But, it's also a challenge for the students, as they are treated like college students.

“It’s college-level work.” Warnesman said. ”For example, If a student enrolls in a fifth-hour English class, and that is the JALC Dual Transfer class, then they have to have the proper scores to be in, and to successfully complete that class.”

The accreditation JALC just received from NACEP attests to that.

"It proves that an A earned in their high school transfer class is the same as an A here on campus," Warnesman said.

The program’s popularity is growing. From the fall 2012 semester to the fall 2016 semester, Warnesman said credit hours through the Dual Credit Program increased by nearly 84 percent.

“There are so many benefits to dual credit,” Warnesman said. “Getting a jump start on a college degree, saving money, and giving high school students the opportunity to get a feel for college courses are just a few.

“I love to see students succeed. I love to hear the many stories of achievements of dual credit students. Many people find it surprising that high school students can graduate from John A. Logan College at the same time they graduate from high school. This year, because of the timing of one high school’s graduation, we have a student who will actually graduate from college before they graduate from high school.

"That’s amazing, I think.”