Charter Schools are known for being more flexible in how they work with students. And with students who are typically more diverse than traditional public schools, charter schools have to find different solutions that make sense for their specific students. This includes everything from the way the school day is structured to the types of support options students have.
This is also true with dual-credit options. For students who live in rural areas or who don’t have a parent who went to college, a college degree might not be the obvious next step after high school graduation. So not only do you need a dual program that your students can access, but also one that helps them build confidence toward their future goals.
To make sure your charter school students have the best experience with their online dual credit courses, look for flexibility, layers of support, and transferability in the program you choose.
Flexibility in dual credit courses can mean many things, from different ways students can access the courses to pacing that can accommodate a student’s busy schedule. Charter schools need a dual credit partner that can meet the specific needs of their students.
For the highest amount of flexibility, find a dual enrollment program that is fully online. This allows you to support a variety of delivery models, including remote, hybrid, and blended. If you have some students who will be taking a course in person and some students who need a virtual solution, you won’t have to shoehorn a curriculum into something it wasn’t designed for, or spend the money for two different solutions.
Similarly, it is important to understand the schedule for the course and who sets the start and end dates. For many dual enrollment programs, those dates are set by the higher education institution and they might not work for your school. It’s also helpful to find a program that has a self-paced option for students who are juggling multiple priorities, such as jobs and family responsibilities. That way, the student can work on the course when they have time, instead of trying to fit in a writing assignment on the same day they work an eight-hour shift and need to make dinner for their siblings.
Having a truly affordable dual-credit program provides another form of flexibility for your students. With affordable options, your school can decide to subsidize some or all of the cost of the college credit, instead of having the student’s family take on the full amount. If the course is affordable to start with, it’s not a burden if the cost falls to the student. But it also gives your charter school options.
Charter schools exist for students and families who want something different than a traditional public school. Sometimes that is because the student wasn’t successful in previous schools, and may come to the charter school with low confidence in their academic ability. With the right support, any student willing to put in the work can be successful with dual credit courses. For that reason, you want a dual credit program that will help any motivated student develop the confidence that they can earn college credit.
This starts with the program itself. Do they firmly believe that your students can succeed if they do the work? Or are there qualifications your students need to meet before they can enroll in a dual credit course?
Also, ask about the support options for students in the course. Look for active instructors who hold regularly scheduled office hours and have a direct line of communication with students. Some programs also provide coaches for the students to help with time management and goal setting. At TEL, our student coaches understand what parts of the course learners tend to struggle with and the coaches reach out proactively to help them prepare.
Many of the courses students take in high school will often be repeated at the college level to earn a degree. With careful planning, motivated students can earn their associate degree and high school diploma at the same time. While earning a few college credits in high school can save money, students who earn an associate degree in high school have many more options when they graduate.
Associate degree programs are typically around 60 credit hours and focus on many of the general education courses that set a solid foundation for higher-level learning. Required courses for an associate degree vary by degree type and by the school, but they typically include math, writing, science, and humanities courses.
Students who complete their associate degree in high school can save significant time and money on their bachelor’s degree. Or if the student is ready to launch into their career directly after high school, an associate degree not only provides the foundational knowledge for many industries, but students with a completed college degree are also more likely to successfully weather economic downturns.
Epic Charter Schools, a virtual charter school in Oklahoma, implemented a model dual-credit program that provides the flexibility they need and the layered support for their students.
The team at Epic Charter School is determined to see their students succeed after high school, no matter what their academic or career goals are. The difficult part was finding solutions that met their students where they were.
With more than 52,000 students, Epic Charter School is the largest school district in the state of Oklahoma. Epic has locations in Oklahoma City and Tulsa, but their students come from all over the state. This diversity meant that Epic needed simple solutions that worked for students no matter where they were or what resources they had. Partnering with TEL gave them access to a catalog of fully online college-level courses as well as support for both their administrators and their students. After a few terms, Epic also partnered with TEL and Oklahoma Christian University to create the Epic Collegiate Academy to help their students earn an associate degree and their high school diploma at the same time.
Check out our case study to learn more about the TEL and Epic partnership, including student completion and pass rates.