Credit before College
story by BILL LOFTUS
illustrations by NOAH KROESE
“It’s been going very well. The kids seem to be getting into them. The administration’s behind it, and the school has been paying for their credits. It’s
a win-win for everyone down here.”
--Roger Wells Castleford High School agricultural education teacher
“The University of Idaho is proud to partner with high schools around the
state as we work together on providing quality, relevant, and forward-thinking
education for our students.”
--Steven Daley-Laursen University of Idaho President
SOME 200 IDAHO HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS EARNED UNIVERSITY OF IDAHO CREDIT WITHOUT LEAVING THEIR OWN SCHOOL ROOMS THIS SPRING, MATCHING ANOTHER 200 STUDENTS WHO COMPLETED UI CREDIT LAST FALL, THANKS TO A PROGRAM COMPLETING ITS FIRST YEAR AND SPONSORED BY THE UI COLLEGE OF AGRICULTURAL AND LIFE SCIENCES (CALS).
"in their own words"
click on the images
“This exceeded my expectations, and I had high expectations going in,” said Lou Riesenberg, the Agricultural and Extension Education Department professor who coordinated the high school program.
Teachers in 35 Idaho high schools qualified as university affiliate faculty members, permitting them to teach dual credit classes.
Alan Heikkila of Pocatello’s Highland High School hoped the new credit option would tip students toward attending college. “A lot of kids get to their senior year, and they’re not sure what they’re going to do. For some of them these credits could be a deciding factor,” Heikkila said.
Not only are students getting credit at the school, but they gain confidence by performing like a university student. “Dual credit is starting to get the ball rolling. It may take awhile to get the mechanics in place,” Heikkila said.
CHEAPER CREDITS, A HEAD START ON COLLEGE
The partnership builds on university efforts to increase high school students’ access to college credits. The college’s program took shape last summer when high school teachers from across the state attended a planning session in Moscow, working through standards and rules with college faculty.
The program offers high school students University of Idaho credit for survey courses in animal science, plant science, agricultural economics, and agricultural education. High school students pay $65 per credit, less than half the fee paid by university students, and could earn 12 credits or more, the equivalent of their first semester on campus.
CASTLEFORD SWEETENS THE DEAL
The Castleford School Board sweetens the deal, paying online and dual credit course fees to encourage high school students to expand their educational horizons.
The result has been an enthusiastic response toward the college’s dual credit offerings, said agricultural education teacher Roger Wells. “It’s been going very well. The kids seem to be getting into them. The administration’s behind it, and the school has been paying for their credits. It’s a win-win for everyone down here.”
Fifteen of 95 Castleford High School students earned dual credit during the 2008-09 school year.
The college’s dual credit program taps into the university’s land-grant mission, tasked by law to work with high school teachers statewide through the Idaho Division of Professional and Technical Education.
“Longstanding ties between the university and high school teachers helped make the pioneering project successful,” said John Foltz, UI CALS academic programs director.
Kyle Stapleton, Nezperce High School’s agricultural education teacher, believes that enrollment will grow. “Once these kids understand they can earn college credit for classes they’re taking in high school, we’ll have more doing it,” Stapleton said.
The first year also suggests other partnerships to increase student access to college credits, such as adding an agricultural mechanics class, Heikkila added. Students also qualify for university credit through opportunities with high school FFA activities.
"The University of Idaho is proud to partner with high schools around the state as we work together on providing quality, relevant, and forward-thinking education for our students," said UI President Steven Daley-Laursen. "This is a prime example of how our interdependence truly serves the common good of our state."
“The credits I get with it are an extra bonus because it puts me that much ahead with my college education. I want to eventually work toward my master’s
degree, so I plan to take as many credits as I can along the way.”
Nezperce High School
She took three credits during fall semester, one in agricultural education and one in leadership development, and attended an FFA leadership event in Shanghai, China (see photo).
When she graduates from high school this spring, she expects to have nine University of Idaho credits. Mosman intends to major in agricultural education at the University of Idaho.
“I had always wanted to go to the U of I, and the ag ed classes I took really solidified my decision and made me want to be an ag teacher even more. I’ve had a ton of fun with the classes I’ve been involved in.”
“I think it’s helped me with what I’m pursuing down the
Castleford High School
Takes classes that stretch beyond his school’s curriculum. School board members encourage students to do so by underwriting the cost.
“They do it so we students have more of a variety and hopefully persuade us to go on with our education. I think it’s helping a lot because you get to take classes you might not normally take because you couldn’t afford them.” His career interests include agriculture and business.
“The leadership class has helped me develop more leadership and more confidence to go out there to help other people and meet new people.”
“I’m getting college credits at a steal. I think it’s a
great opportunity, and it helps you build your resume.”
Highland High School
Plans to attend the University of Idaho in the fall to prepare for a career as a history teacher. He signed up for the university’s introductory agricultural education class and served as class aide to agricultural education teacher Alan Heikkila.
“UI has a great agricultural education program. Getting college credits while you’re in high school is a great thing to do. I liked the class because it gave us college assignments.”
“It’s a bit more of a challenge, and that’s been fun because
I like to challenge myself in what I do.”
Highland High School
Took a UI CALS agricultural education class. She intends to earn her bachelor’s at Brigham Young. She’ll keep her options open after college, preparing to teach agricultural education or at the elementary level.
“It’s been really nice because obviously it’s a lot more affordable to do this in high school. “I’m starting my higher education through this class, and it’s helping to prepare me for college. It’s kind of nice to know what’s expected of me in college by doing this.”
“I think it’s going to help me a lot in the future. I’m really looking forward to going to college, and this gives me a college experience ahead of time. It’s
a lot harder. They expect a more complete explanation in the answers. In college
you have to be much more precise.”
Castleford High School
Enrolled in the online bridge class to earn credits toward her education degree. She is considering careers in agricultural education, elementary education, or radiology and may enroll in the University of Idaho, College of Southern Idaho, or Idaho State University. “I was pretty confident, and I knew that Mr. Wells would help me a lot through it. I’d rather take it now and get a little experience.”