Two Way Street – The Dual Credit Affair

Students faced with new "Dual Credit" option to earn college credit and save money

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Jia Lin Mei '16, Opinion Editor

Rising juniors and seniors from all over Jones gathered together last week at the auditorium to be met with an announcement from administration months after course registration finished and counselor meetings were over: some of their carefully selected classes were now to suddenly turn into “dual credit.”

The Dual Credit Program, partnered with the Loyola University of Chicago through the City of Chicago Colleges system, is the first program Jones is participating in that gives students college credit outside of the Advance Placement (AP) program. Unlike the AP, the Dual Credit Program only allows juniors and seniors who maintained a cumulative GPA of 3.0 and over to take their courses. Instead of receiving “AP credit” if they do well at the AP test every end of the year, students will receive for each course up to three “credit hours,” a system that colleges use in order to track how many credits a student has. Since most college courses are 3-4 credit hours in worth, students will be getting an equivalent of one whole year of college instruction with each dual credit course. In addition, credits will be listed in an official college transcript, and students get full access to Loyola’s library and online resources.

With the introduction of these courses, much commotion has been flying back and forth between students and administration regarding the difficulty of the courses and the possibility of opting out. Junior counselor Tamera Driver, who met last week with the English Department to finalize details with World Literature (a soon to be dual credit course), said in an e-mail to students that  little was to be changed in the actual curriculum, and “this is the same basic class that we have offered for many years.”

Subtle changes did have to be made for some of the courses to be college geared. Art teacher Karen Stozlenberg had to update her Ceramics I and II classes with more advanced glazing techniques and have students keep more accurate records of their creative process and techniques. World Literature teacher Ted Grossman will have to increase the grade impact of written expressions from 40 to 50%. Otherwise, instructors did not change the basic outlines of their courses. The same applies for all other prospective dual credit courses (Latino Literature, AP Physics, AP Chemistry, Criminal Psychology, Spanish III, French III and IV), so students should not be opting out because of rumored “increased difficulty” as Driver reinforced.

Assistant principal Therese Plunkett is supportive of the courses despite the confusion, noting the amount of money students will save if they decide to do dual credit component of the courses. Each credit hour costs only $65, which, according to the Loyola Dual credit website, is actually 10% of what typical semester hours usually cost.

“Why shouldn’t you do it? It`s the same course. No one is forcing you to do it,” Plunkett said.

Teachers themselves signed up to have their courses to be turned to dual credit. All class applications had to be submitted in April 1 in order to be reviewed by each respective subject departments at Loyola and to appoint teachers as “adjunct professors,” which requires a Master’s degree in most cases. Teachers had to submit in copies of course syllabi, recommendation letters from staff and administration, and curriculum vitaes (C.V.) or resumes. Because the courses weren’t undergoing major changes, Grossman remarked the process “wasn’t too arduous.”

For some, the transition to this new class has been rather grueling. Language teacher Danielle Wracker, who applied for three classes (French III and French IV and Spanish IV) to be dual credit, had difficulty proving to the Loyola language department on the rigor of the French book she was using. In addition, she notes how it is “more work for us (teachers)” because of how representatives from the university will come later next year to observe the classes.

“We teachers get nothing out of it. I get no extra pay, I get no extra recognition; so why did I do it? For you guys,” Wracker said.

Students still hold reserves about the dual credit courses. A junior, who preferred to remain anonymous, remarked how she feels the problem with dual credit courses isn’t the rigor, but “the changes in the instructors that will be teaching the classes,” rumored to be tough graders even in honors level courses.

“Administration wants us to just accept the classes as they are, but the teachers will always have an affect on how difficult or rigorous the course is,” she said.

Grossman hopes that the dual credit courses will be a way for seniors to preserve the work ethic they have developed at Jones and to prevent succumbing to the infamous “senioritis,” especially when grades are still somewhat applicable to college and the fact their habits will carry on even after graduation.

“If students are searching for a place to slack off, dual credit courses are not it…the course (World Literature) will run the full year, and, well, “senioritis” has never been an option at Jones, and it will continue to not be an option,” Grossman said.