Over the past few months, talk of the possibility of removing dual credit classes through Highland Community College has been causing apprehension amongst Rock Creek students. Now, that may not be the case — at least for the 2016-2017 school year.
In years past, Rock Creek has given students the opportunity to take a required class for high school credit and for college credit through HCC. American History, Anatomy, College Algebra, Government, Physics and Statistics have all been dual credit options.
However, the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), which oversees the federal policies for colleges in the central United States, changed its requirements for who can teach college-level classes on Oct. 1, 2015.
“Essentially, the idea is to ensure that the teachers are properly qualified,” counselor Kevin Sullivan said.
According to HLC guidelines, “If a faculty member holds a master’s degree or higher in a discipline or subfield other than that in which he or she is teaching, that faculty member should have completed a minimum of 18 graduate hours in the discipline or subfield in which they teach.”
With that being said, in order for a teacher to teach a dual credit class, they must either have a master’s degree in the field that they are teaching, or 18 master’s-level hours in that area.
This implementation affects 19 states across the United States: Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
At Rock Creek, this new rule affects four teachers, including science teacher Jeri Brummett, social science teacher Chris Schmitz, math and science teacher Ashley Wege and social science teacher Mike Zabel, who will have to decide whether to take the 18 hours of graduate courses to meet the requirement.
Even though this regulation will not be implemented in the upcoming 2016-2017 school year, students were asked their opinion on the possibility of new regulations in the future.
“It makes me feel cheated because everyone else above us doesn’t have to take certain classes in college, but we do,” sophomore Demi Kunkel said.
In addition to Kunkel, junior Connor Greening said, “I’m happy that we actually get the opportunity to take dual credit classes our senior year, especially Government.”
With all of the controversy floating around, one thing is for sure. Students will still be able to take the classes for high school credit, regardless if they do not have the opportunity to take them for dual credit.
“To some degree, it is unfortunate because there are qualified folks in the system now that deliver the product, based on not necessarily formal education, but experience,” Sullivan said.
Article and photo by Brynn Hammett, yearbook editor in chief