Posted on Tuesday, October 2, 2018

The Virginia State Board for Community Colleges has adopted new standards designed to ensure the consistent quality of Dual Enrollment programs across Virginia.

The action, at the Board’s regular meeting September 27, comes in response to a legislative study that spotlighted challenges in current Dual Enrollment programs.  

The General Assembly’s Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) concluded in September 2017 that because of quality concerns, some of Virginia’s four-year institutions were reluctant to accept Dual Enrollment credits from some community colleges. 

Quoting the JLARC report: “Implementing quality assurance practices could increase the likelihood that dual enrollment credits will be accepted by the state’s four-year institutions.”

Dual Enrollment programs began in Virginia in 1987 with twin goals:  expand access to higher education generally, and offer capable high school students a chance to take college-level courses and get a head-start on their post-secondary education.

These programs are usually offered in high school classrooms and are taught either by community college instructors, or by high school teachers who meet the same educational qualifications mandated for community college instructors.

Dual Enrollment is popular. With almost 44,000 high school students enrolled in the academic year that ended last May, Dual Enrollment students made up almost 19 percent of the students in the VCCS.

“The new standards adopted by the VCCS State Board align with national best practices to ensure quality and integrity in high school-based Dual Enrollment classes,” said Glenn DuBois, chancellor of Virginia’s Community Colleges. “The new standards also comply with a new Dual Enrollment Policy adopted in June 2018 by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.”

The VCCS, which is accredited through SACSCOC, must comply with the organization’s policies, even if they are raising concerns among some Virginia public school superintendents.

The new quality standards aim to ensure that:

  • College courses offered in the high school are of the same quality and rigor as the courses offered on campus at the sponsoring college.
  • Students enrolled in Dual Enrollment courses are held to the same standards of achievement as students in on-campus courses.
  • Instructors teaching college courses through the Dual Enrollment program meet the academic requirements for faculty teaching in the college and are trained in course delivery and provided ongoing discipline-specific professional development.
  • VCCS Dual Enrollment programs display accountability through program evaluation.

If you’d like to learn more about the new quality standards, click here. (The document at this link is marked “Draft,” but note this was the policy approved by the State Board on Sept. 27.)

At its meeting in November, the VCCS State Board will take up new statewide pricing standards for community colleges that offer Dual Enrollment programs to their local school divisions.'

Jim Babb

Jim Babb works for Virginia's Community Colleges in the Office of Strategic Communications.

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