Number of students taking dual-credit courses up 15 percent

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The number of HISD students enrolled in dual-credit classes increased 15 percent in the past school year, thanks in part to legislation passed by the Texas Legislature in 2015 that allows school districts to partner with any community college – not just those within their boundaries.

As of today, 4,573 HISD students are enrolled in dual-credit courses, compared with 3,985 students in the 2014-15 school year. HISD has the largest number of students taking dual-credit classes in the Houston area. The classes allow students to receive college credit, and with enough credit hours, a student can graduate with both a high school diploma and an associate’s degree.

“Students who take dual-credit classes are more likely to enroll in and graduate from an institution of higher education,” said HISD Assistant Superintendent of Career Readiness Mike Love. “HISD helps reduce the barriers to higher education by paying students’ tuition and fees, and many of our students graduate from high school ready to join the Gulf Coast work force.”

Davis High School student Joshua C. is taking a dual-credit course that is an HCC prerequisite in which students are taught leadership skills and thinking strategies that promote student success in college and beyond.

“My HCC class is helping me with my thinking and communication skills,” Joshua said. “It’s preparing me for college and what to expect from it. It has also helped me get my work done properly and on time in my high school classes.”

State Sen. Paul Bettencourt last year sponsored the dual-credit bill, which also removed the three-course-per-semester limit previously in place.

“Dual-credit enrollment for the spring semester is up 14 percent over last spring, and it’s going to continue to grow as more people hear about it,” said Bettencourt, referring to the enrollment of area high school students at all four community colleges in Harris County – Houston, Lone Star, San Jacinto, and Lee. He spoke at a March 23 news conference alongside chancellors from all four colleges, as well as officials from Houston, Cy-Fair, and Spring ISDs.

“Of all the bills ever passed, this is the most pragmatic, and it is getting results,” said Lone Star College Chancellor Stephen Head.

Before this school year, HISD partnered exclusively with Houston Community College, but now it has 261 students enrolled in nine programs at Lone Star College, including welding, automotive technology, cosmetology, culinary, maritime, firefighting, and HVAC — all of which are high-growth, high-demand fields.

“It’s a win-win for everyone,” Bettencourt said. “Once this train leaves the station, everyone is going to want to get on.”