News From Terre Haute, Indiana

February 22, 2013

Grant to help ISU, Vigo schools expand dual-credit opportunities

Sue Loughlin
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — The Vigo County School Corp. and Indiana State University have been awarded a one-year, $360,000 “innovation” grant to expand dual-credit opportunities for high school students.

Ten grants were awarded statewide through a competitive process, and the VCSC/ISU grant received the most funding, said Karen Goeller, VCSC deputy superintendent.

In a dual-credit course, students earn both high school and college credit, which can translate into significant savings in college tuition costs. It also can help them complete college in four years or sooner.

The school district and ISU plan to have additional dual-credit courses in place for the next school year at Terre Haute North Vigo, South Vigo and West Vigo high schools. Officials talked about the grant at a news conference Wednesday.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity for students and parents to check out,” said Jill Blunk, director of ISU’s College Challenge dual-credit program. “It can advance the student toward achieving that college degree and give them a little bit of experience to increase their comfort level before they get onto a campus.”

It can also save families a tremendous amount of money, Blunk said. ISU’s College Challenge program provided high school students with more than 3,000 hours of college credit last year, saving those students nearly $800,000 in college tuition costs. ISU partners with several high schools in Indiana.

Holly Pies, VCSC curriculum coordinator, said the district already offers a wide variety of dual-credit options, but this grant “will help us to provide equity across the district.”

More options will be offered at all three high schools. “We’ll be able to open more doors and offer more subject areas for dual credit,” Pies said.

The school district offers dual-credit courses through ISU, Ivy Tech-Wabash Valley and Vincennes University.

The grant has several other components:

• High school teachers and ISU faculty will work together in the high school classroom to assist students in earning dual credits. Three writing specialists also will be involved.

• The grant will provide graduate tuition scholarships to help high school teachers become dual-credit instructors.   

• A Counselor Academy will enable counselors to learn more about dual-credit courses and to visit postsecondary institutions and local industries to better understand workforce opportunities in the region.  

• Students will improve college and career readiness skills in a Summer Boot Camp between their junior and senior years in high school.  

• A Summer Bridge Course will strengthen teacher and faculty collaboration as they co-teach the ISU University 101 course for students between their junior and senior years.

While ISU faculty won’t be in the high school classroom every day, the project will enable them to learn more about what is going on in the high schools, said Susan Powers, ISU associate vice president for academic affairs. Faculty also will learn more about future ISU students.

At the same time, high school teachers will learn innovative ideas from ISU faculty.

“We’re very excited about the partnership and what it will bring to both parties,” Powers said.

The school district and ISU currently offer about 14 dual-credit courses, and they hope to add as many as a dozen, Blunk said. The focus would be on general education-type courses such as English, communication, math and psychology.

Students pay $25 per credit hour in ISU tuition costs for a dual-credit course. Students qualifying for free/reduced lunch don’t pay any tuition.

The partners are focusing on general education courses that potentially also will transfer to other Hoosier state colleges.

According to Powers, the state has mandated the creation of a general education transfer core; each state institution must offer a minimum of 30 credit hours of general education that, once completed at one state institution, would transfer to all state institutions.

The $360,000 Innovation Grant was awarded by the Indiana Department of Education.

Sue Loughlin can be reached at 812-231-4235 or sue.loughlin@trib