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Eye of the Tiger

RJUHSD plans to offer dual enrollment courses

Mark+Andreatta+lectures+to+one+of+his+AP+Human+Geography+classes+last+week.+He%2C+and+other+teachers+are+considering+going+back+to+school+to+get+their+masters.+%28NICK+CHANG%2FEYE+OF+THE+TIGER%29
Mark Andreatta lectures to one of his AP Human Geography classes last week. He, and other teachers are considering going back to school to get their masters. (NICK CHANG/EYE OF THE TIGER)

Mark Andreatta lectures to one of his AP Human Geography classes last week. He, and other teachers are considering going back to school to get their masters. (NICK CHANG/EYE OF THE TIGER)

Mark Andreatta lectures to one of his AP Human Geography classes last week. He, and other teachers are considering going back to school to get their masters. (NICK CHANG/EYE OF THE TIGER)

DANIELLE BENNETT

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RJUHSD began the process of offering college courses on campus by incentivizing a “dual enrollment” program at its schools. The district is looking to enter a partnership with Sierra College to begin offering community college curriculum and dual credit to students during school.

The dual enrollment program would allow students to attend college courses on campus during an otherwise free period certain days of the week. In the future, students may have also opportunities to take dual credit courses that integrate the high school and college curriculum so students can receive credit for both classes.

According to Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Jess Borjon, the district plans to initiate a dual enrolled Career and Technical Education (CTE) course at each school by next year.

“As a district we are always exploring ways to provide students opportunities that promote learning,” Borjon said in an email. “Dual enrollment is a way to expand access to college credit for more students. As an example, CTE courses that usually aren’t considered.”

Rather than earning college credit from the score earned on an AP exam, dual enrollment courses would guarantee students credit at the community college for passing the class.

AP social science teacher Mark Andreatta believes that even without a grade bump, the guaranteed college credit would aid students financially.

“There’s some definite upside to [receiving college credit] in terms of if you could graduate from college early and only pay for three years instead of four,” Andreatta said. “That’s a good thing – better than a grade bump would be.”

Borjon recognizes that students benefit from community college credit if it transfers to the college they attend. However, having taught AP courses in the past, he appreciates the consistent rigor of the AP program, which he believes prepares students for any college.

“One argument I would make on the side of advising students to take an AP class is the level of detail and preparation it has for you in regards to the rigor it’s going to meet in preparing you to be a college student,” Borjon said. “If you take an AP class and you have wishes or aspirations to go to colleges around the country, the AP class might serve you better.”

After previously teaching an AP government class that awarded only one quarter of weighted credit, and now teaching a course that awards two quarters of weighted credit, social science teacher Dana Dooley noticed students have more incentive to take her current course.

“It definitely makes an impact to have that weighted incentive – not to say that students are only taking courses for the weight, but if you are putting forth the hard work and effort to a college level course, whether that be an AP course or these dual enrollment opportunities, you ought to be recognized for that with the weighted credit,” Dooley said.

In order to teach a dual-enrollment course, teachers must have a master’s degree in the course curriculum. To increase the number of eligible teachers, the RJUHSD Board of Trustees offered teachers a $5000 stipend for getting their master’s degree.

Andreatta believes the stipend is a good incentive for new teachers or ones who already planned to attain their degree – including himself.

“I would encourage any new teachers to jump right onto it,” Andreatta said. “I’m thinking about probably going after a master’s in psychology. I was actually thinking about that before, but this would spur me on.”

AP social science teacher Jessica Fork plans to get her master’s to partake in the program, but predicts it will be difficult to balance her education and career.

“I’m taking a big step,” Fork said. “I’m going to be teaching classes all day, taking classes at night, making time for my family, finding time for my family, so I’m juggling lots of different things.”

RHS Principal David Byrd acknowledged that time constraints and cost can make getting a master’s degree difficult, but that going back to school would ultimately benefit any educator.

“Any time anyone learns more about what it is they’re doing for a living, as a result of that they will be better at it – have new ideas, have new understanding of content, have new ways of teaching and reaching kids,” Byrd said.

Dooley, who mastered in sociology and experienced teaching college curriculum at UC Davis, looks forward to the program as an opportunity integrate the college material into these new courses.

“This would not so much change my teaching per-se, but it would mean that I could get more creative with my assessments,” Dooley said. “Having previously taught college, I could bring in some of my actual college assessments I used with my students which would then even further prepare my students for real college.”

Senior Chloe Lavalleur has taken both AP and community college courses, and prefers college curriculum due to the experience that comes with attending a community college.

“I probably would’ve chosen the college course over an AP, just because the college courses that I have taken were much more comprehensive and I feel like I’ve learned a lot more, especially from the social atmosphere,” Lavalleur said. “When I took courses at Sierra I got to interact with college students who were already working towards majors and out in the real world. Here it’s kind of like a bubble.”

Senior Ashley Blake believes that, while courses on campus would not provide the social atmosphere, they would alleviate some of the challenges with attending community college courses.

“I actually like that idea because when I went to Sierra I had to pay for my classes – I had to pay for the textbook, I had to pay for the class itself,” Blake said. “I think that would really be suitable for those who don’t want to commute or pay for classes.”

Students still have the opportunity to earn college credit for a high school course without taking an AP exam. As of this year, students in Kevin Fagan’s CTE WORKS AP Computer Science A course can receive CSU credit in addition to high school credit for passing the class. CSU Sacramento accepted Fagan’s proposal that the curriculum aligns with its Programming Concepts and Methodologies 1 course (CSC 15).

“I don’t have to [teach the course differently] since essentially I said ‘here’s the stuff we teach. We think it matches the CSC 15’ and they said ‘yes it does and your students could participate in this program if they want to,’” said Fagan.

Senior Kendall Sparks found the possibility of college credit motivates her to do well in the course.

“I was honestly pretty excited [when I found out],” Sparks said. “I know that I’m going to push myself to do well enough to get the college credit, so to know thats something to strive for versus taking the AP test is a really good positive.”

Byrd encourages teachers to get their master’s degree to provide students more opportunities for college credit and open doors for teachers.

“I want this for our kids,” Byrd said. “I want them to have the dual-enrollment, dual-credit scenario and if we’ve got teachers who accomplish this, those are the people I’m going to be sitting down and say ‘hey, I want you to take over this particular instructional course.”

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