CHS Students Jump Start Post-secondary Work in Dual Enrollment Program

Judi Bookhamer, high school teacher, instructs a statistics course that is eligible for post-secondary credit in the dual enrollment program through Penn Highlands. (Jessica Shirey)

CLEARFIELD – For the past three years, students have jump started their post-secondary education while still attending the Clearfield Area High School.

Principal Kevin Wallace said the school’s dual enrollment program started with only a few courses through both Mount Aloysius College and Penn Highlands Community College.

He said sociology, psychology, chemistry and physics were among the first courses to be offered. He said they selected these courses since most students enroll in them at the post-secondary level.

But he said the program has now spiraled into 12 courses that are eligible for college credits. He said they’ve had students graduate with as many as 13 credits, which is an equivalent to a semester of courses.

“They have an opportunity for up to 36 credits in the current program. But right now, it continues to grow toward 45 credits,” Wallace said.

Wallace said their Spanish courses have been added to the program. He also said computer-aided design – both levels one and two – appears to be set for availability in the fall.

He noted, “Its savings to parents will be astronomical, depending on the (post-secondary) institution. We’re talking thousands and thousands. For some, it will even determine if they attend a post-secondary institution.”

According to him, they currently have approximately 115 students in the dual enrollment program. He said they don’t have any grade requirements for the program, which is open to all class levels. He, however, indicated they must finish with a “B” average for the credits to transfer.

Wallace said Spanish I and II translate into the equivalent of a post-secondary 101 level, Spanish III into level two and Spanish IV into level three. He said the chemistry and physics courses are viewed as introductory level by post-secondary institutions.

Wallace said Tim Janocko, assistant principal, was instrumental in the development of the program. Although each institution is different, Janocko said he believes all state schools, including both Penn State and Pittsburgh, will transfer the credits.

Wallace said they don’t need a minimum student population to offer dual enrollment. He said they must have at least 15 enrolled students for a class to be offered, however.

In fact, Wallace said all the dual enrollment courses have been popular. As of yet, he said they’ve never had problems filling the courses. He said many courses are already graduation requirements for students.

Janocko said the district has applied for the dual enrollment grant. By doing so, he said it helps subsidize the costs to the students. He said the students pay $90 – $100 per dual enrollment course.

“It’s really a bargain,” he said. He said they’re striving for every student to leave with at least one dual enrollment course. He said they’re now expanding the dual enrollment possibilities into the technology and arts in order to reach more students.

According to Janocko, they recently spoke to Melissa Murray of Penn Highlands Community College. She indicated that Clearfield has become the state’s model for dual enrollment. He said their teachers are “highly qualified” and pursued additional education.

In the dual enrollment program, Janocko said the teachers must hold a master’s degree and be endorsed by the sponsoring post-secondary institutions. He said it has not only raised the standards for teachers, but also their students and the school overall.

He said they implemented the program to motivate and prepare their students to pursue a post-secondary education and a potential career. For example, he said a student may graduate with one dual enrollment course.

“(We want him/her to say), ‘Hey, what can I do with this,’” Janocko said.

He said it puts their students in a better position to pursue a higher level of education at a vocational school, college/university or in the armed services.

Janocko continued, “It’s a plus the whole way around. It’s such an advantage to the kids.”

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