OU Trustees worry college-level high school courses create inequality

Some members of the Ohio University Board of Trustees say a college credit program for high schoolers creates inequality among students and “could hinder students’ overall education.”

During their monthly meeting Thursday, the Board held a Joint Committee Meeting to discuss the future of the university’s College Credit Plus program, which is available for students in grades 7 through 12.

The College Credit Plus program, known as CC+, was established in 2014 by Ohio HB 487 to provide academically qualified students in public and private Ohio schools with opportunities to earn college credit while still in high school.

The program’s mission is “to promote rigorous academic pursuits and to provide a wide variety of options to college-ready students.”

Several other states offer similar programs, such as Alabama’s Dual Enrollment opportunity and Dual Credit programs implemented in Oregon and Texas.

Students who go through the program are eligible to earn college credits transferable to Ohio public colleges and learn other academic skills, all while maintaining high school graduation requirements.

To qualify for the program, students must be college-ready and offer proof that they are remediation-free by providing SAT, ACT, COMPASS, or Accuplacer scores that meet CC+ admission standards, which are comparable to those of Ohio’s public colleges.

Admission into the program is also determined by a student’s performance in the classroom, grade point average, class rank, course grades, writing assessment, and disciplinary records. Applicants must also provide letters of recommendation from teachers or counselors.

The program strongly recommends that students take certain prerequisite high school courses before enrolling in CC+, such as four units of English, three units of science, and two units of a foreign language, among others.

Students interested in CC+ are required to attend a mandatory information session with their parents before registering for courses, after which they are assigned an academic advisor to assist them in their college courses.

For most students, the College Credit Plus program is free of cost and includes course tuition, books, and fees. Under certain circumstances, participants can be charged nominal fees for the courses, but the law specifies that “No participant who is identified as economically disadvantaged may be charged for participation.”

However, the Board decided on Thursday that high school students of lower socioeconomic status faced potential inequalities, even though the program is free for those students and acceptance is based solely on students’ academic records.

Ohio University’s CC+ website states that students exposed to college-level coursework while still in high school are more likely to apply for and attend college after graduation.

Even so, the Board still debated the advantages and disadvantages of the program, fretting that “some students might not be academically and socially ready for college courses” despite meeting the high academic requirements and completing the intensive application process.

OU Executive Vice President and Provost Pam Benoit endorsed those concerns, telling The Post that while CC+ can provide important opportunities to students, they may not be prepared for the course strain.

During their Thursday meeting, the Board also discussed how the College Credit Plus program creates inequalities among students in high schools with differing socioeconomic statuses.

“There’s a question about whether we’re providing students the right kind of education by providing this opportunity,” Benoit remarked.

The Board of Trustees has not responded to Campus Reform’s request for comment.

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