Dual credit courses critical component

By Christina Calloway

PNT senior writer

ccalloway@pntonline.com

Dual credit courses are being used across the county by area high schools to propel students toward their futures.

It’s one of the common components among all Roosevelt County high schools that garnered an A grade in the college and career readiness category of the schools’ report cards recently issued by the Public Education Department.

The courses allow high school juniors and seniors to take free college courses that count for high school and college credit. The classes are usually taken at Eastern New Mexico University, Clovis Community College or on the student’s campus.

The county high schools saw success in other areas than college and career readiness, earning them overall A’s. Portales High School saw overall improvement as well, jumping from a C to a B.

“We have some of the (dual credit) classes right here on campus,” said Portales schools Interim Superintendent David Van Wettering. “Last year, we were able to get 50 percent of our juniors and seniors at least one college credit. It certainly helps them.”

Van Wettering says they also transport students to CCC who are interested in a vocation.

He credits the PHS’ media arts classes and MESA (Math, Engineering and Science Achievement) Club as other extra creative curricular activities that engage students as a reason why PHS saw improvement in its grade. There is also an emphasis on academics from the moment freshmen step foot on campus.

“We have honors classes from freshmen to seniors. They’re actually given weight,” Van Wettering said. “It just challenges those gifted kids.”

Though PHS didn’t make a high mark in the improvement of its lowest performing students, the bottom 25 percent, the county high schools all earned high grades in their efforts to target that group’s growth.

“We identify where the weaknesses are through both the PED testing and short-cycle testing,” said Floyd schools Superintendent Paul Benoit. “We offer extra tutoring, we offer extra instruction in addition to what every kid gets.”

Benoit said having a “zero hour,” which is the time before school starts where students have a quiet place to work or get extra assistance in trouble areas, has been beneficial in helping the lowest performing students.

He also hails the use of the dual credit program but says it is important to support students interested in a specific vocation or trade.

“We often forget the second half of college and ‘career’ readiness,” Benoit said. “One of our primary goals is to make sure every student leaving here can read, write and compute numbers. They have to have those skills for college and career.”

He added teachers’ intolerance for failure pushes students who aren’t being challenged.

“We work hard in telling them that the choice to fail is not an option,” Benoit said of students who refuse to try. “In our small schools, we’re able to know each kid and build on their strengths first.”

Elida schools Superintendent Jim Daugherty agrees that having a smaller classroom has helped in Elida High School’s success.

“Our teachers just work with our students and make every effort. We work with every student individually,” Daugherty said.

He says the average size of the classes at the high school are about 12 students. This helped them target the bottom quartile and push those students who fall in that group.

“We just work with the kids to do our best,” Daugherty said. “We have a tutoring program and any student can come.”

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