By the time the 23 seniors in Waterford High School teacher Deana Dye's sixth-period calculus class graduate, they will have three college math courses under their belts.
"It's been tough, but you know it's going to be helpful, so that's why we did it," said Waterford senior Shane Kern.
The year-long calculus class covers a trio of courses offered at Washington State Community College, where the students will also receive credit for their work. As the number of high school students taking courses at Washington State continues to increase, the amount of such "dual enrollment" classes offered on area high school campuses is set to double in the coming year.
EVAN BEVINS The Marietta Times
Waterford High School math teacher Deana Dye addresses her senior calculus class, for which students receive high school and college credit.
There are a total of 186 students taking 15 classes for college credit at Belpre, Fort Frye, Waterford and Morgan high schools and the Washington County Career Center this spring, according to Paul Wells, senior director of admissions and advising at Washington State. Enrollment numbers aren't available yet for the 2012-13 school year, but the college expects to offer 32 courses at those schools, as well as Frontier, Marietta and Warren high schools.
"I would offer as many (dual enrollment) classes as I could," said Belpre City Schools Superintendent Tony Dunn. "It's good for kids; it's good for families. ... There are many, many kids who are ready, in high school, to handle college courses."
Earning college credit in high school can lighten students' course loads, not to mention their financial obligations, when they reach college, as well as giving them experience with the rigors of college work, educators said.
By the numbers
5 - Area high schools at which dual enrollment classes are offered on-site in the current school year (Belpre, Fort Frye, Morgan, Waterford and the Washington County Career Center).
8 - Area high schools where dual enrollment classes are expected to be offered in the 2012-13 school year (Frontier, Marietta and Warren will be added).
186 - Students currently enrolled in on-site dual enrollment classes.
15 - Different classes offered in subject areas that include business, chemistry, electronics, math, health sciences and industrial technology.
32 - Different classes expected to be offered in the 2012-13 school year, including the addition of American Sign Language.
Source: Washington State Community College.
"It's a good way for us to make that transition for them a little smoother," said Mark Nutter, Washington State's chief academic officer.
High school students are making up an increasingly larger portion of Washington State's enrollment, with the number nearly doubling from the fall 2009 quarter to fall 2011. In addition to dual enrollment, students can take college courses on campus for credit that counts toward high school and college, through the Post-Secondary Enrollment Option program. In addition, students can take online courses through the Early Enrollment Program.
PSEO has been criticized by some because it diverts funding from the local school for tuition and fees, up to the approximately $5,700 per-pupil cost. Dual enrollment courses allow schools to retain more of that money - up to 80 percent of the cost if the person teaching the course is their employee - but officials say there are other advantages as well.
"I would say that our school climate and culture benefits from it," said Wolf Creek Local Superintendent Bob Caldwell, noting more student body leaders might remain on campus.
There is also an economic benefit for the students and their families.
"That way you're not using your gas money to go to campus and get the same thing," said Megan Giffin, a junior at Waterford who is taking a dual enrollment Algebra II course.
Two sections of that class, as well as calculus, are taught by Dye. The criteria and text for the classes are the same as they would be at Washington State. The algebra classes, which Dye said are more difficult for students than what she'd taught previously, stretch a quarter-long college course over a year. But the calculus class takes them through three quarters' worth in the same amount of time.
"It's harder ... for everybody," Dye said. "But there are advantages to being more difficult. I'm teaching more material than I've ever taught."
That includes trigonometry in the latter portion of the course.
"We've never had a trig class at this school, so that's been a real plus to our students," Dye said.
Senior Trevor Lang and other students said they felt more comfortable taking the class from Dye, who they believe can give them more one-on-one instruction than a college instructor.
"It's easier to take it here than it is at college. Mrs. Dye, she's a great teacher," he said.
One of the challenges to offering dual enrollment courses is that the teacher must have additional training in his or her subject area. In most cases, under standards set by the Higher Learning Commission which accredits Washington State, that means a master's degree in the subject. Dye, who has a master's in education, had enough additional hours that she was accepted.
"Most of our teachers have master's degrees, but not many of them have master's degrees in their subject area," said Dunn, noting many teachers opt to get advanced degrees in education or administration.
The Ohio Valley Educational Service Center, which serves 15 school districts in six counties including Washington, recently received $400,000 in federal Race to the Top funding through the Teach Ohio program. The money can be used by districts and the ESC in a variety of ways, including to help teachers attain a master's degree in their subject area, something multiple Washington County districts are interested in pursuing.
Perhaps the simplest way to meet the requirements is to have a teacher who works at both the high school and the college.
Evan Schaad teaches two dual enrollment math classes at the Washington County Career Center and is also an adjunct instructor at Washington State. He said offering the courses at the career center allows students to take them in "an environment where they're comfortable."
"It also gives them a little bit of confidence that they can do college work," he said.
The career center also offers a dual enrollment classes in chemistry and medical terminology and plans to add a sports nutrition class in the fall. Officials from the career center and the college are also looking at other ways to expand their dual enrollment offerings.
College instructors can also teach classes at the schools, which is the arrangement that will be used when dual enrollment American Sign Language courses are offered to students at Frontier, Marietta and Warren high schools next year. In addition, Marietta High School will add a digital engineering class under the banner of Project Lead the Way, a series of engineering courses that included classes offered on Washington State's campus.
"A number of the students have not gone on to take those upper-level classes in Project Lead the Way but have indicated they would if it were offered on-campus," Marietta Superintendent Harry Fleming said.
The districts do not retain as much of the money if the teacher is not their employee. However, officials said Washington State has worked with them on the cost side, including a grant that has covered tuition and fees for the career center classes this year and allowing the Project Lead the Way class to be classified under the Early Enrollment Program, since it only counts for college credit.