Column: WHS students have opportunities to earn college credit
By Ann Mills, District 518
WORTHINGTON — The number of WHS students taking advantage of earning college credits has increased in recent years.
During the 2014-15 school year, 132 students participated in PSEO and concurrent courses. That number increased to 197 students during the 2017-18 school year. and currently there are 200 students participating in the two programs. The number of diverse students participating in the course offerings has also increased. During the 2014-15 school year, 47 diverse students participated in the programs. That number increased to 112 in the 2017-18 school year, and currently 110 students of diverse background are participating in the programs.
The 112 diverse students that participated in the 2017-18 represented 28.8 percent of all juniors and seniors from WHS participating in PSEO and concurrent courses. For concurrent alone, 15.9 percent of students that participated were of diverse background. That’s above the statewide participation by diverse students in the same year, which was 14 percent according to data from Minnesota State System Office.
PSEO and concurrent courses are offered in conjunction with Minnesota West Community and Technical College. The guidelines for eligibility to participate in the programs are set by Minnesota West and include the following (students must be a junior or senior in high school and meet one of the following PSEO eligibility requirements):
- High school rank: top one-third of class as juniors and top half of class as seniors
- ACT Scores: 24 or higher as a junior, and 21 or higher as a senior
- Score 78 or higher on the Reading Comprehension Accuplacer or a 21 or higher on the Reading ACT
- Math classes: score 51 or higher on the Elementary Algebra Accuplacer, 40 or higher on the College Level Math Accuplacer, or a MATH ACT score of 15 or higher
Students that choose to take advantage of the free courses earn both high school and college credit as long as they pass the course. PSEO courses can be taken online or on campus at Minnesota West with college faculty teaching the courses, while concurrent courses are taught at the high school with credentialed HS instructors teaching the courses. Credentialing requires that a teacher have a master’s degree in the teaching field or a master’s degree and a minimum of 18 credits in the teaching field.
Long-standing concurrent courses offered at WHS include Principles of Biology I, Human Anatomy, and Medical Terminology/First Aid and CPR, all of which are part of the health care pathway. During the 2017-18 school year a college prep course was added to the list of concurrent offerings, and 47 students took advantage of the opportunity to get a glimpse of what college course work involves. This year, 67 students enrolled in the course.
Also added to the list of concurrent courses in 2017-18 was Introduction to Education. That course is part of a pathway program in conjunction with Minnesota West and Southwest Minnesota State University that allows students that are considering pursuing a degree in education to take some of their education course work while still in high school. Thirteen students participated in the first offering, and this quarter 18 additional students are taking the course.
New in the 2018-19 school year is Body Structure and Function, which is a course that was added as part of the health care pathway program. The health care pathway program allows students to take college courses that give them a head start on degrees in nursing, medical assistant, medical lab technician, athletic training, surgical technology, radiology technology, dental assisting and health information technology, as well as those considering biology and physical education degrees.
WHS continues to work closely with institutions and organizations like Minnesota West, SMSU, Southwest Initiative Foundation, Greater Twin Cities United Way and the McKnight Foundation that offer opportunities for students to engage in career pathways and earn college credit.
Ann Mills is a science teacher at Worthington High School.