Dual credit programs have grown prodigiously at Texas community colleges. Since the state first started tracking enrollment in 1999, the number of dual credit students across Texas has "ballooned from fewer than 12,000 to more than 91,000," according to a recent article in the Texas Tribune by Brian Thevenot.
State officials tend to support the growth and, historically, these students perform well in transferring and getting their degrees. It's too early, however, to measure whether the positive numbers will hold up, since today's dual credit students are not necessarily as well prepared as they were before the programs began to multiply. More reports are expected soon, but they may be flawed by an inability at this point to measure the success of the current cohort of students. A time frame of six years is often needed.
Some officials have voiced displeasure about the financing of dual credit, which allows colleges to count students in the instructional formula, and also permits school districts to tally them as part of their average daily attendance totals. "State Rep. Scott Hochberg, D-Houston, and other state policymakers, including Commissioner of Education Robert Scott, have raised concerns that the state may be double-paying for the classes in financing both the high schools and colleges involved," the Tribune article states.
According to the piece, concerns among legislators "emerged when they realized just how large the dual credit program had grown, and some were irked at reports that some colleges also charged tuition, either to students or their high schools."
Then there is the issue of academic standards, which may become more problematic as enrollments grow.
Here's an important passage:Unlike Advanced Placement courses, which are also common on high school campuses, there’s no test at the end of the class required for students to earn the college credit, [Rep.] Hochberg pointed out. And the dual credit courses can be taught either on college or high school campuses. It’s not known at the state level the prevalence of each, but the high school-based classes in particular have drawn suspicions about their rigor. “There have been a lot of allegations that they aren’t really college-level courses,” Hochberg said.