In a landmark policy change, the South Dakota Board of Regents recently became the first university system to grant blanket approval of concurrent enrollment credit for courses taken through NACEP-accredited programs. Previously credits earned through concurrent enrollment could be accepted by public 4-year institutions in South Dakota if the credits were accompanied by a high score on an Advanced Placement or CLEP exam or from a college or university that signed a dual credit agreement with the Board of Regents The Board of Regents has a reputation for having some of the most restrictive concurrent enrollment credit acceptance policies in the nation, stemming from a situation in the 1990s when an institution in a neighboring state began marketing a concurrent enrollment program to South Dakota high schools. When these students matriculated to one of the South Dakota Universities, it became evident that they were poorly prepared for higher level college courses. Further investigation revealed that the courses were not equivalent to entry-level college course content and that little interaction occurred between the high school instructors and the sponsoring college’s faculty.
The South Dakota Regents responded by passing a policy in 2001 that closed the door to concurrent enrollment in the state by requiring that students pass a CLEP exam or score high on an Advanced Placement exam in order to receive college credit. The policy was amended in 2002 to grant credit to programs where the Board could authenticate that a course taught college level material. The Board set prescriptive standards for programs seeking approval to ensure that concurrent enrollment courses taught college level material, including faculty qualifications, student assessment, and course enrollments. The recent South Dakota policy change recognizes the work NACEP has done to address concerns about quality of concurrent enrollment programs across the country through high standards and a rigorous peer-review accreditation process.