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Chamberlain school boosts dual credit program

CHAMBERLAIN -- Dual credit courses for Chamberlain High School students received a boost Monday night. At the district's regularly scheduled school board meeting, the board voted to approve a measure that allows college courses taken by students ...

School supply photo illustration. (Matt Gade/Republic)
School supply photo illustration. (Matt Gade/Republic)
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CHAMBERLAIN - Dual credit courses for Chamberlain High School students received a boost Monday night.

At the district's regularly scheduled school board meeting, the board voted to approve a measure that allows college courses taken by students to register on their high school transcripts as one full credit, as opposed to a half credit.

And students don't have to wait to see results.

The change will take effect this semester, with 23 students currently taking dual credit courses.

"Part of it was because of the level of the work and the rigor, they are really doing at least a credit worth of work," Superintendent Debbie Johnson said Tuesday. "They receive three credits for their college transcript, so we wanted to make sure they were being awarded a sufficient amount of credit on their high school transcripts, too."

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Additionally, the move may help some students receive Regent Scholar honors and the South Dakota Opportunities Scholarship, Johnson said. When Chamberlain awarded a half credit for a dual credit course, students were required to take a second course to fulfill requirements for the scholarships.

High school juniors and seniors are eligible for the dual credit courses, with some exceptions occasionally made for younger students. Work completed in the college courses is time consuming and often more difficult than high school curriculum, Johnson said, so it's important for the district to ensure students and their parents are aware of the effort it takes to complete each course.

So, at the beginning of each semester, the school guidance counselor and other school officials meet with students enrolled in dual credit courses and their parents to discuss how parents can help their students succeed.

Additionally, Chamberlain allots time in enrolled students' schedules for college courses, with teachers available during that time to assist with any questions.

Students can take courses through any South Dakota public university - like the University of South Dakota, Black Hills State University, Northern State University and others - at a discounted price.

"Students are able to get some of the general education coursework completed before they get to college, so when they get there, they will be able to move into their major or main interest sooner," Johnson said.

And students see benefits long before arriving on campus.

Through taking online dual credit courses, Johnson said students learn about the importance of time management and prioritizing, and in the six years the district has offered the program, it has "mushroomed" to encompass more students.

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"Once you get behind in a college course online it's tough to get back on track," Johnson said. "Overall, though, our students do well and it's worth the time and effort they put into it."

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