A bipartisan group of legislators in Oregon not only thinks every student in the state should be college-ready, but that they should go into higher education with a few college credits under the belt. Jonathan J. Cooper of the Associated Press detailed one of the more aggressive pushes for higher secondary school standards in the nation.
Senate Bill 222 would see earning college credits be made a requirement for graduation in the state, and lawmakers think it provides a host of benefits. Students would be making the most of their high school careers; they would receive an introduction to college-level work; and perhaps most importantly, they would reduce their student loan debt by earning credit that didn’t come with a famously-high price tag.
“It represents a great play on college affordability if someone can come out of Roseburg High School with 40 credits,” Hass said Tuesday at a committee hearing for the measure. “That student saves thousands of dollars for himself and his family on the cost of a bachelor’s degree.
The legislation would require that six of the 24 required courses for graduation would be college-level, and addresses funding — though the numbers are uncertain — to make sure schools and teachers can deliver tougher classes adequately.
Earning college credit while still in high school isn’t a new thing in Oregon. Over 25,000 students last year took dual-enrollment classes that earned them credit, with more taking Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate classes to demonstrat their ability to do college-level work — and to reap the benefits as they move on to higher education.
But the proposition is not universally popular. Critics of the bill say that students shouldn’t be forced to take college classes if they don’t want to, and that mandating excellence should take a back seat to ensuring that each student has the right education path to meet their own needs.
Others point out the difficulties with rural and small schools. Urban and larger systems can offer a wider variety of classes — and assign qualified teachers to lead them — more easily than schools with limited student and teacher populations.
At this point, SB 222 is still in the draft stage. As debate continues and more numbers are crunched, the details may change:
The bill is likely to change substantially before going before the full Senate, Hass said, and the mandate for college credits could eventually be watered down or removed. But he said he’s committed to creating powerful incentives for high schools to boost the number of students earning college credits.