Free tuition for MSUB’s High School Connections continues for 2017-2018, increased teacher training available
Program offering a variety of college level credits through local high schools continues to grow, wins grant for teacher training
Harold Olson, MSUB/CCMSUB Dual Credit, 247-3015
University Relations, 657-2266
MSU BILLINGS NEWS SERVICES — Montana State University Billings is working to increase the number of students that can take college level courses in high school by getting more teachers trained to teach the variety of classes available through High School Connections.
A large grant from Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education will facilitate in increasing the number of Master’s level teachers becoming certified to teach dual credit courses, especially educators from eastern Montana.
The “Preparing Eastern Montana Teachers for Concurrent Enrollment,” project will provide 9-credit graduate courses to 35 teachers from rural and high-need eastern Montana high schools.
Extended Campus Director Kevin Nemeth explained the project is designed to prepare these teachers to implement concurrent Writing, Art and Political Science courses that comply with both state high school and college standards.
The courses are designed to be blended, with a one-week residency followed by online instruction and completed during the summer. The following year, teachers will have a one-year mentorship as they design and implement coursework at their high school.
According to data provided by the Montana Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education of the 888 concurrent courses offered from fall 2014 through spring of 2016, about 14 percent were available to students on the eastern side of the state.
Teachers from 16 target schools have already expressed interest in the training and several hundred high school students may be impacted through this growth in the program.
High School Connections will continue to offer credits free of charge for students enrolled in a variety of courses.
Dual Enrollment Coordinator Harold Olson said he’s impressed with the three-fold increase in total student credit hours seen since the program began in the 2014-2015 term year.
From Spring 2015 to 2017 the number of credit hours taken grew from 177 to 861, respectively.
“All in all this is just a wonderful opportunity for high school students to take college level courses during high school,” Olson said.
High School Connections is designed to give high school students the opportunity to earn high school and college credits simultaneously — the same class earns credits for both and for the 2017-2018 school year, the college tuition is free.
The high school dual enrollment program at MSUB/City College is part of a statewide initiative to increase the number of students pursuing post-secondary education by smoothing the transition between secondary and post-secondary education and to help reduce college debt.
Credits earned are fully transferable in the Montana University System and transfer widely to other accredited colleges and universities.
The number of instructors qualified to teach the roster of classes continues to grow as well, Olson said, as the university is committed to providing the instruction necessary to participate.
In the past year, the school has seen both Hardin and Columbus high schools offer High School Connections courses.
“We are really hoping to grow the availability to classes beyond Billings,” Olson said.