Joseph Rallo, Louisiana Commissioner of Higher Education, and holder of degrees in international relations, Russian history, and law, addressed 35 educators from LSU Baton Rouge, LSU Alexandria, Grambling, Southeastern University, and LSU Shreveport February 17, 2018 in Alexandria, Louisiana at a statewide gathering of the Association of Louisiana Faculty Senates (ALFS). Rallo discussed the state of higher education in Louisiana, highlighting its problems with finances, tuition, Dual Enrollment, lower standards of admission, outcomes-based funding, graduates and jobs, cost-saving measures, and the belief that Louisiana has too many universities. Of particular interest are his comments about Dual Enrollment.
Rallo believes that Dual Enrollment programs in Louisiana are not “sufficiently rigorous,” even though they are here to stay. In an effort to improve the quality of Dual Enrollment Programs, Rallo indicated as he has on other occasions, that the best approach to teaching Dual Enrollment Programs is to put students on the college campus and in the college classroom with a college professor. The second best approach, he said, is to bring the college professor to the high school campus. The third approach and the one that he liked least is using the high school teacher. He said that he intended no disrespect to high school teachers, especially since both of his parents taught high school. He offered the following explanation for his concern: “Just because someone has been an excellent algebra teacher for 20 years does not mean that they are qualified to teach calculus.”
Rallo said that all high school teachers who will be teaching Dual Enrollment classes will receive training from the universities with which they are affiliated. According to the Baton Rouge Advocate, dual enrollment instructors who are not college faculty will have to undergo training by the college on how to deliver and grade the course. Rallo also commented on the general lack of preparedness of Louisiana students, saying that 64% of Louisiana high school students need remediation in either math or English. Up until now, those students who needed remedial courses were allowed to take Dual Enrollment courses without taking the necessary remedial courses. After this year, students who need remediation will be required to take remedial work while taking Dual Enrollment classes:
- That means students who score less than an 18 in ACT/English can enroll in a math class for dual
enrollment if they are also addressing their reading or writing deficiencies.
- Those who score less than a 19 on ACT/math can enroll in an English, foreign language, history or
humanities class for dual enrollment if they are also addressing their math deficiencies. (Sentell)
See Will Stenell’s December 11, 2017 “Dual Enrollment? The rules are changing” in the Baton Rouge Advocate.
Regardless of whether or not Rallo is correct when he says that Dual Enrollment is here to stay, the number of students enrolled in Louisiana’s Dual Enrollment classes have increased from 9,600 students in 2009 to 23,000 in 2017.
Despite Rallo’s admonition about the staying power of Dual Enrollment, college campuses are not quite so receptive, and they demonstrate their resistance in a number of ways. Private universities are not legally obligated to accept credit for Dual Enrollment Courses. As a result, Tulane does not grant college credit for Dual Enrollment courses. Meanwhile, state universities, unlike private ones, are obliged to accept credit for Dual Enrollment Courses. That required acceptance, however, does not mean that faculty at state universities endorse the idea of Dual Enrollment Courses. For example, some faculty on the campus of LSUA regularly discuss the relative merit of dual enrollment. Some wonder about the advisability of enrolling ninth- and tenth-graders into dual enrollment courses for speech, fine arts, and foreign language, believing that these students lack the maturity and intellectual development for such courses. Others warn that dual enrollment courses are college courses and that ninth- and tenth-graders will have to carry with them the grades from those dual enrollment courses into their college careers. Instructors who worry about long-term impact of Dual Enrollment on grades recommend that students enroll in AP courses, thereby protecting their college GPA.
Faculty mention the following problems encountered when teaching Dual Enrollment classes:
- Immaturity of the students. One long-time adjunct speech teacher quit in mid-semester. She was teaching dual enrollment on a high school campus, but the students were often unruly and the high school administrators expected her to continue teaching past the end of the college semester and to the end of the high school semester.
- Exploitation of college faculty. One department chair thought it was acceptable to have college teachers teach beyond the college term.
- Inadequate quality control. Another department had one college instructor (MS in math) serve as the teacher of record for five high school teachers who were teaching math in Dual Enrollment classes in the high school classroom. A practice, by the way, that will be no longer permitted.
- Insufficient class time to cover subject material in both the high school English class and in the first year College English class.*
* Consider the following: A Senior English class and Dual Enrollment class, if taken separately, require that students spend 5 hours of high school class time discussing literature and listening to the teacher and 3 hours of college time practicing their writing. However, students earn more credit and spend less time in the classroom and/or interacting with each other and their teachers than they would in a college class.