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New standards may mean fewer college credits for students

By Sarah Campbell
scampbell@salisburypost.com
SALISBURY ó Local school officials fear fewer high school students will have the opportunity to earn tuition-free college credits under the stateís new Career & College Promise program.
Thatís because the initiative, which will replace existing high school transition programs including the Huskins cooperative program, has tougher standards for student enrollment.
Under the new program, high school students will be required to have a 3.0 weighted GPA to participate. The mandatory GPA for the Huskins program is 2.5.
ěThe guidelines for getting into the program will be a little more stringent than they have been,î said Kathy McDuffie, director of secondary education for the Rowan-Salisbury School System. ěThere are going to be kids that arenít going to qualify.î
The Career & College Promise, a program that will offer college credit and job training for high school juniors and seniors, will have three pathways, including college transfer, technical careers and cooperative innovative high schools such as the Rowan County Early College.
Students who want to be part of the college transfer pathway will have another hurdle to clear. Theyíll be required to pass the college placement exam that includes math, reading and English before beginning classes at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College. That has not been a requirement for dual-enrollment students in the past.
ěThatís my biggest concern because itís not an easy entrance test,î said Ron Deaton, director of career and technical for Kannapolis City Schools. ěThat will cut out some students.î
Rod Townley, vice president of academic affairs at Rowan-Cabarrus, said although the Career & College Promise program wonít differ greatly from the Huskins program or dual enrollment, the number of students participating could drop as the academic bar rises.
ěItís much more a repackaging and renaming of what weíve offered in the past,î he said. ěUntil we start doing it and find out how well the students are doing on the testing, weíre not going to know how much of an impact itís going to have.î
Townley said the stricter standards will put high school student admission on par with that of a typical community college student.
ěItís pretty much leveling the playing field for high school students,î he said.
And Townley said that might not be a bad thing.
ěI think itís better because students will have more success in the classes if theyíve tested in college ready,î he said.
Terry Chapman, dean of health and public services technologies at Rowan-Cabarrus, said principals have the final say on whether or not students can participate in the program.
ěThere is a magic bullet; principals can waive some of the requirements for students,î he said.
But that power will likely only be used in rare cases.
McDuffie said the program could also be a good alternative to Advanced Placement (AP) courses, which allow students to receive college credit if they do well on the AP exam at the end of the semester. Students who do not score high enough on the test donít receive college credit even if they pass the class.
ěIf they earn community college credit it will automatically transfer to a four-year college, so the entire semester doesnít hinge on one test,î McDuffie said.
The Career & College Promise program is set to launch locally next fall.
McDuffie said guidance counselors will be working with students to identify whether or not the initiative is the right path for them.
ěI think the main thing is that students that are interested in any of these programs need to have a personal conversation with their guidance counselor so they can help determine the best way to go,î she said.
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.
Twitter: twitter.com/posteducation
Facebook: facebook.com/Sarah.SalisburyPost

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