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Wednesday, May 04, 2005

College Credit Opportunities for Rural Schools

A few weeks ago I came across this document. The U.S. Department of Education issued a press release entitled "High School Students Using Dual Enrollment Programs to Earn College Credits, New Reports Say: President Bush's budget proposes increasing access to "dual enrollment" programs for at-risk students " (see http://www.ed.gov/news/pressreleases/2005/04/04062005a.html).

I have to be honest and say that I don't know much about dual enrollment programs, as they weren't a beast that existed back in Newfoundland, but I imagine that they are something like college or university sponsored Advanced Placement courses. An Advanced Placement course allows students to challenge for college or university credit (based upon the individual college or universities policy) by taking and achieving a specific level on a standardized exam during the first two weeks of May. I imagine that a dual enrollment course is a course offered in high school, but crosslisted with a college or university that allows a successful student to get credit at that college of university.

Anyway, the reason this caught my attention wasn't because of the dual enrollment issue or even the at-risk students (although that seems to be of interest to another virtual school blog, see What About At Risk Kids Online) . My interest lay in these two sections of the report.

"Larger public high schools were more likely than smaller ones to offer dual credit and/or Advanced Placement courses. Specifically, 63 percent of small schools, 75 percent of medium-sized schools and 82 percent of large schools offered courses for dual credit. Similarly, 40 percent of small schools, 82 percent of medium-sized schools and 97 percent of large schools offered AP courses."
No surprise that rural and small schools do not have the ability to offer a comparable educational opportunity, when it comes to Advanced Placement courses, as their larger, urban counterparts.

"For those schools offering dual credit courses through distance education, smaller public high schools were more likely than larger high schools to offer them through this means (35 percent of small schools, 21 percent of medium schools and 17 percent of large schools). High schools in rural areas and schools in towns were both more likely than either schools in cities or schools in urban fringe areas to offer courses for dual credit through distance education (33 and 29 percent vs. 11 and 18 percent, respectively)."
This finding was quite interesting though. Rural and small high schools are able to offer their students more opportunity to achieve college credit than larger and urban counterparts are able. This is achieved through distance education dual enrollment programs .

I guess my question is why have we gotten so good in rural education in some respects of providing opportunities for our students and not at others? I would imagine that if we are able to do this through distance education for some programs, whynot others? Any thoughts?

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