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High School: Now with More College

Yesterday’s Wall Street Journal reports on the rise of “dual-enrollment, which allows high school students to take community college courses, receiving credit toward both a high school diploma and an undergraduate degree. More students are seizing the opportunity to complete their college education earlier and with less debt:

 “It’s a great way to encourage students to have college credit, which allows them to accelerate through college,” said Christopher Mullin, program director for policy analysis at the American Association of Community Colleges. “Plus, it is a way for students to get exposed to a college environment if parents hadn’t attended college.” . . .

Community colleges have a financial incentive to participate in the programs: Most states allow them to count the high-school students in state-funding formulas, which are based on the number of students served.

In 22 states, the participating schools cover the cost of the classes, while the remaining states charge students, though often at a reduced rate.

This is an important educational reform. Much of the time students spend in American classrooms is wasted. More students could take more courses for college credit while still enrolled in high school at no risk or cost.

The real problem is that relying on credit hours rather than true tests of knowledge is an inherently wasteful and foolish way to assess educational progress. Ultimately American education must move from a “time served” system to a “stuff learned” system. But until that happens, ideas like this make sense.

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