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New regs for college credit instructors

News Letter Journal of Newcastle, Wyoming

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Eastern Wyoming College Outreach Director Kim Conzelman reported to the WCSD #1 Board of Trustees at their regular meeting last Tuesday on the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships conference she had recently attended in Denver with High School Principal Tracy Ragland.

New requirements from the EWC's accreditation body, the Higher Learning Commission, will require high school instructors with master's degrees to undergo additional education and testing in order to continue to teach concurrent classes in their subject area, she told the board.

Board Chair Bob Bonnar and Treasurer Tom Wright spoke out strongly against the requirements, calling them wholly unnecessary. Wright observed that undergraduate classes at four-year universities are often taught by graduate students with minimal academic credentials.

"Are the universities making that same effort with the people they put in college classes that they're expecting us to make," Wright asked Conzelman, mentioning he continues to hear stories of grad students with limited English language ability teaching freshman university classes.

Conzelman answered, saying her understanding of the change is that it is across the board for all HLC-accredited institutions. Many people at the conference, which gathered attendees from most of the 50 states, were upset with the changes, she added.

Bonnar said he is interested in pursuing the matter and potentially getting in contact with school districts elsewhere who are opposed to the move.

"This absolutely disgusts me...," he told Conzelman.

"If people are really upset about this, I'd be interested in knowing if there's any sort of organization to the people who are upset, because I think there needs to be a significant push-back on this."

"This is another set of obstacles between kids and what kids need to succeed," Bonnar continued, "and it's being cranked out by some organization that piles up money in a corner somewhere to do nothing but find problems so that they can present solutions... At some point this becomes too difficult for us, there's too many obstacles for us to overcome, and we're not going to be able to provide this opportunity for our children in this district."

Conzelman noted that the change does not come entirely as a surprise, having been a subject of discussion over the past five years. The overwhelming success of concurrent programs nationally was touted at the conference, she also noted.

The district's concurrent program through Torrington-based EWC allows high school students to simultaneously earn both high school and college credit by taking college-level courses.

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Original Publication Date: November 5, 2015

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