Missouri raises requirements to teach dual credit classes

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JEFFERSON CITY - College classes taught in Missouri high schools will have stricter guidelines starting the next calendar year.

Missouri's Coordinating Board for Higher Education announced on Tuesday it revised the state policy for dual credit programs. Officials said the changes, "strengthen Missouri's guidelines for dual credit classes to ensure they offer high-quality, college-level instruction."

The changes include stricter guidelines in regards to who can teach dual credit courses. In most cases, the instructor must have a degree relevant to the subject that is at least one level above whatever course they teach.

"One of the primary purposes of the revised policy is to ensure that higher education institutions across the state deliver quality, college-level instruction in innovative ways that will help prepare more students to succeed in college," Rusy Monhollon said. Monhollon is an assistant commissioner for academic affairs within the Department of Higher Education.

"Teachers have to have a depth of knowledge in the content area," Monhollon said. "So if you're going to teach history, you need to have a substantial amount of study in history."

Thirty-three Missouri colleges and universities offer dual credit classes at about 600 high schools in the state. More than 40,000 students enroll in the classes each year. Officials said dual credit programs help students transition from high school to college while they save time and money.

Monhollon said the change in policy could result in some teachers previously qualified to instruct dual credit courses losing that privilege.

"I don't think it does anybody any good to offer less than college level courses then expect students to receive college credit for it," Monhollon said. "Our approach has been, 'We have to ensure the quality, we have to ensure the integrity of these programs, first and foremost.'"

Years before these new requirements, the Department of Higher Education indicated difficulties in finding qualified teachers. In the 2011 Dual Credit Report from the Department of Higher Education, researchers said there was difficulty finding qualified instructors, particularly in rural regions. 

The new policy establishes an Early College Advisory Board to assist the department by monitoring Missouri's dual credit programs. This board will consist of 13 members from public and private two- and four-year colleges and universities as well as one at-large member.

Officials from the Department of Higher Education, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, public and private colleges and universities contributed to creating the new policy.

The new guidelines also align the state's dual credit policy with national guidelines established by the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships and the Higher Learning Commission.

For more information about Missouri's dual credit policy, follow this link

The new policy will become effective January 1, 2016.