Examining dual credit inequities in Kentucky

Education Commissioner Terry Holliday
Education Commissioner Terry Holliday

Dual credit is one of several strategies that has proven effective in helping more students reach college- and career-readiness and achieve success at the postsecondary level. So, it makes sense to fully utilize this strategy to help us reach our goal of college/career-readiness for all students and our ultimate goal of a better-prepared workforce.

However, in June, Council on Postsecondary Education President Robert King, Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority Executive Director Carl Rollins and I received a letter from House Education Chair Derrick Graham and Senate Education Chair Mike Wilson. The letter expressed concerns that members of the General Assembly were hearing from constituents about consistency in implementation of dual credit policies across the state.

The letter asked President King, Dr. Rollins and me to pull together a task force to look at the concerns with dual credit policy implementation and bring back recommendations around access, finance, quality and transfer of credit.

Last week, the dual credit task force had the first of its three planned meetings; the agenda focused on a national perspective and how Kentucky compares. Dr. Jennifer Zinth, from the Education Commission of the States, provided the group with an excellent review of current state policies and best practices for dual credit. The next presenter, Dr. Amy Loyd, shared information from the Harvard Pathways to Prosperity Project, Jobs for the Future dual enrollment strategies and data from a national review of early college programs. I encourage you to click on the links above to view their presentations.

The task force agenda for the Sept. 26 meeting at the Council on Postsecondary Education will focus on Kentucky-specific issues. The group will hear updates from CPE, the Kentucky Community and Technical College System and the Association of Independent Kentucky Colleges and Universities on how higher education institutions are implementing current dual credit policies in our state. The presentation will focus on access, finance, course quality and transfer of credits.

Also, KDE will be updating the dual credit survey – first completed in 2013. We will be providing superintendents with survey access at the Sept. 11 Superintendent Summit and ask for a quick response so that we can provide a state perspective at the Sept. 26 task force meeting.

Finally, at the next meeting we will be inviting a number of best practice sites from across Kentucky to provide examples of the high-performing dual credit programs in the state.

Should readers have questions or comments about the dual credit task force, please contact Marissa Hancock in our Office of Career and Technical Education. We expect to issue a final task force report and recommendations in December


  1. First I would like to thank everyone who is working on the dual credit courses in our state. I am a World Language teacher (Spanish that is), who teaches at Raceland-Worthington middle and high school in a small rural community in Eastern Kentucky. I am happy to have found this post and finally be able to share with all of you six years of planning, collaboration between teacher and administrator, student’s performance data analysis, high school educator and university collaboration, placement test scores, the role of the data on students placement, curriculum mapping and last but not least instructional design model.
    As we try to move forward in our state and encourage students to perform, and set high expectations for them selves, we wonder if we are making the right decisions when it comes to dual credit?
    Today, I am happy to say that after 16 years of experience, in which 6 are in dual credit, I know we are giving student the power to better themselves earlier on, by challenging themselves to move to advanced courses that ultimately will place them into the college courses. At the same time the state is challenging educators like me to continue to further my education to be able to teach the kids. It is my understanding that a group of teachers will be possible presenting in December, I would love to present in front of the task force, the Commissioner and along with the kids what I have,

  2. This is interesting and I agree that we not only need to look at how we are dealing with Dual Credit in Kentucky, but examine how we compare nationally. As we examine Dual Credit, I believe we must also look at AP Exams. I read a recent article on the Prichard Blog on Kentucky AP Exam scores and also agree with Susan Weston that it would be nice to see Science, Math and Language Arts scores moved up. I think that we must investigate how we further use our investments in using these tests. The answers to the following questions must help to guide us further.

    1. Are Dual Credit courses as good as if not better offerings than AP classes? There might not be sufficient data to show that high school AP science classes contain enough rigor to serve as college courses.
    2. Is it reasonable to hinge college credit on one AP Exam and is this process done fairly when we compare how Dual Credit is assessed? Some changes have been made to some classes, so instead of just providing teachers with a list of points that need to be covered for the exams, the College Board will create these detailed standards for each subject and create new exams to match. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/09/education/edlife/09ap-t.html?pagewanted=all&_r=1&
    3. Can there be other incentives to drive higher performance? Some states have offered financial benefits to teachers and students who pass the exams. Even though some students weren’t impacted, some low-income students did better. Also, a study showed that even with students who earned a 4 on the AP Exam, the college they selected required a 5 for college credit. So the college credit incentive isn’t always satisfied, and is this consistent and equitable with how Dual Credit is given?
    4. Can we expect to see higher performance in these offerings, once Kentucky Core Academic Standards (KCAS) trickle through the system? I think strong rudiments must start early in a creative fashion. Honed teaching that responds to varied learning needs must allow students to continue to build on their knowledge and opportunity base that prepares them for AP and Dual College Credit courses and more!
    5. I also think we need to define a strategy for encouraging students who don’t do well on the AP Exams or in Dual Credit courses to still be prepared to take these classes in college and not shun these subjects.

    Brenda Martin is NeKY PTA District President and National PTA Social Media Ambassador. Follow @Bdrumartin on Twitter.