Schools Struggle with Credential Requirements for Dual Enrollment Instructors

As dual enrollment programs grow, some states and institutions are working to comply with instructor credential requirements, reports Inside Higher Ed.

The Higher Learning Commission, the country's largest regional accreditor, issued a policy clarification in 2015 requiring dual enrollment instructors at the high school and college level to have a master's degree in the specialty they are teaching, or at least 18 graduate-level credits within that specialty. Some states and institutions pushed HLC for an extension so they could meet the requirements; HLC pushed the deadline to September 2022 for any institution or state that applied for one. For those who did not apply, the clarification went into effect this past fall.

Jennifer Parks, director of innovation for the Midwestern Higher Education Compact, said in Inside Higher Ed: "Each state is starting from widely varying places as they address the teacher credentialing problem," she said. "Data is a key issue. It is difficult for a state to address an issue if there is no reliable information on the number of teachers affected, the numbers of credit hours or master’s degrees they need, and the subject areas in which those teachers need those credits or degrees."

Some states, like Illinois, Iowa, and Ohio, were not far off meeting the requirements. But the new clarification makes it more difficult to recruit qualified instructors in rural areas. 

"Certainly, there is an effect and ongoing issue for every community college in Illinois and in the country about meeting faculty qualifications in rural areas where they have trouble recruiting faculty," said Brian Durham, deputy director for academic affairs for the Illinois Community College Board.

"It is impacting campuses—particularly small, rural community colleges—already since it went into effect [last] fall," said Adam Lowe, executive director of the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships. "But it is disproportionately affecting concurrent dual-enrollment programs, because they represent a larger share of the adjunct pool and that’s your largest pool of minimum-qualification people."


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