The National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships (NACEP) recently concluded its 2014 National Conference in Chicago, Illinois hosted by the Illinois Community College Board. Eight hundred attendees, representing educational professionals from three countries, 45 states and the District of Columbia, participated in three days of sessions on creating an effective academic bridge between high school and college through concurrent and dual enrollment.
As is shown by the large influx of attendees at this year’s conference, there is large support for concurrent enrollment from across the country. Concurrent enrollment provides high school students the opportunity to take college-credit bearing courses taught by college-approved high school teachers. It has been shown that concurrent enrollment increases college attendance as well as completion. Attendees were made up of concurrent and dual enrollment practitioners, college officials, high school leaders, policymakers, and researchers interested in improving upon their programs and ensuring students experience a seamless transition to college.
The conference opened with an enthusiastic keynote speech from 2013 National Teacher of the Year Jeff Charbonneau, a National Board Certified science teacher at Zillah High School in Washington. Charbonneau challenged the audience to eliminate barriers that keep high school teachers from becoming concurrent enrollment teachers in order to give them “the opportunity to strive for something more” and to provide more concurrent enrollment opportunities for students regardless of where they live. He also pushed the audience to create a true P-20 system by eliminating silos between secondary and postsecondary institutions.
Terry O'Banion, President Emeritus of the League for Innovation opened the second day of the conference by stressing the importance of increasing college retention and completion rates. He described concurrent enrollment as one of a handful of high impact practices critical to student success but insufficient if implemented in a silo without an institution-wide commitment to a framework for student success.
Concurrent and dual enrollment continues to be supported by both sides of the aisle. Illinois’ Lieutenant Governor Sheila Simon called for increased student access to concurrent and dual enrollment and stated, “If you’re ready to go onto the next level, we ought to make it possible for you to go onto the next level.” This message of eliminating the gap between the K-12 and postsecondary education systems was echoed by 11 of 41 Governors in their 2014 State of the State Addresses, making concurrent and dual enrollment the fourth most commonly addressed topic in higher education according to the American Association of State Colleges and Universities.
Brian Durham, Senior Director for Academic Affairs and Career and Technical Education at the Illinois Community College Board hosted sixty attendees for a pre-conference workshop on State Policy. The day featured presentations and facilitated discussions on the policy-making process by state agency and system office personnel and national experts on dual and concurrent enrollment policy.
During the conference, 11 postsecondary institutions were honored for having earned NACEP accreditation for their concurrent enrollment programs in 2014. NACEP accreditation ensures that college courses offered by high school teachers are as rigorous as courses offered on the sponsoring college campus. Additionally, over one hundred attendees interested in pursuing accreditation attended a pre-conference Accreditation Institute led by Accreditation Commission Chair Jaclyn Dumond and Vice Chair Victoria Zeppelin. This in-depth workshop featured strategies for implementing NACEP’s national standards that enhance the quality of concurrent enrollment programs.
Outgoing NACEP President Sandra González introduced the newest members of the Board of Directors:
- Governmental Relations Committee Chair: Kathleen Burns, University of Missouri – Saint Louis (MO)
- Research Committee Chair: Christine Denecker, University of Findlay (OH)
- Four-Year Public Postsecondary Institutional Representative: Deanna Jessup, Indiana University (IN)
- Two-Year Postsecondary Institutional Representative: Loralee Stevens, Johnson County Community College (KS)
González also recognized current Board members who will continue to serve in new capacities:
- President: Kent Scheffel, Lewis and Clark Community College (IL)
- President-elect: Tim Stetter, University of Washington (WA)
- Secretary: Diana Johnson, NorthWest Arkansas Community College (AR)