Harlan County High School continues to expand its “dual credit” program, providing students with even more opportunities to earn college credit while still in secondary school.
High school guidance counselors Stephanie Reynolds and Scott Shepherd updated the Harlan County Board of Education on the course additions made to the program this year during the board’s recent monthly meeting.
Beginning with six dual credit courses at the opening of the consolidated high school seven years ago, the school district has since maintained their on-going collaboration with Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College to expand the number of higher-level classes each year.
A total of 18 dual credit academic courses are now being offered at HCHS, of which eight are new this year. Among the recent additions are biology, anatomy and physiology, with associated labs. Others new offerings include college English courses, including literature; Spanish; Appalachian studies; and computer science.
“The high school currently has 495 seats taken in dual credit courses,” Reynolds reported to the board. “(The program) offers 38 dual credit college hours, and 19 additional articulated credit hours for a total of 57 possible credit hour opportunities to our junior and senior level students.
“Juniors can get as many as 15 dual credit hours each and seniors can get the same,” Reynolds told the board. “That means our students have the opportunity through this program to graduate from high school as college sophomores.”
Because participating high school students are also enrolled as Southeast KCTC students, the classes count as college credit and can subsequently be transferred to any college or university that accepts credit from Southeast.
Local school officials praise the work done by both the high school staff and the community college to prepare more students for even more advanced education.
“You are not going to find a program like this anywhere you go,” said Brent Roark, assistant superintendent for curriculum.
Emphasis is being placed on the high school sophomores to be prepared to apply for these classes based upon their ACT history with EXPLORE and PLAN tests during eighth and tenth grades, Reynolds told the board.
In addition to the growing slate of academic classes, a significant number of similar “dual credit” courses are offered to high school students in vocational/technical studies at the college’s Harlan campus through what’s referred to as “articulation agreements.”
Unlike similar programs around the state and region, all of these classes at Harlan County High are provided by a faculty member, either from the high school or the local college, noted Roark.
None of the classes are provided through the internet or via a video-conferencing or ITV system, he added.
Because of this ongoing partnership, several high school instructors have become accredited college instructors and are allowed to award college credit for their classes.
“We believe this is a great resource to push students to excel and get them ready to perform well at the next level,” Roark said.