GODFREY – Lewis and Clark Community College Vice President of Enrollment Services Kent Scheffel recently began his two-year term as president of the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships (NACEP), which is the accrediting body for dual credit partnerships.
Currently, Lewis and Clark has one of the largest dual credit programs in Illinois, and operates the only High School Partnership program in the state that is accredited by NACEP. L&C’s program offers qualified high school students, from 18 high schools in its district, the opportunity to take transfer or career-occupational courses at their high school.
“The high schools in the region have played a key role in making the program a success,” Scheffel said. “The schools have worked with L&C to ensure dual credit teachers have the proper credentials, they’ve helped with aligning textbooks between the courses, and they’ve allowed their instructors to attend for professional development workshops that focus on learning outcomes for courses.”
L&C’s program currently offers 92 different courses in 30 subject areas. Instructors in the high schools meet the same criteria as on-campus faculty, and the classes follow Lewis and Clark’s course syllabi and provide the same learning outcomes as on-campus classes. Students who complete the courses receive college credit from L&C.
“Many students and families have benefitted from Lewis and Clark’s dual credit program,” Scheffel said. “Students receive the credit at no cost, and it’s an excellent opportunity to get a head start on their college career. Quite often students can complete an associate or bachelor degree in less than two or four years, or take a lighter course load while completing a degree in the normal timeframe. It’s also beneficial to experience college-level classes prior to beginning a postsecondary degree.”
Dual credit courses also give students the opportunity to become acquainted with college-level work and gain a better understanding of what is expected in a college course. The classes are provided at no charge, and students have earned more than 328,000 credit hours since 1999 and have saved almost $29 million in tuition.
Scheffel was appointed NACEP treasurer and served for four and a half years before he was elected President-Elect in October 2012. His two-year term as president began at NACEP’s annual conference in October 2014.
NACEP strives to ensure that college courses taught by high school teachers are as rigorous as courses offered on the sponsoring college campus and helps programs adhere to the highest standards so students experience a seamless transition to college. NACEP also works to ensure teachers benefit from meaningful, ongoing professional development, and the organization actively shares the latest knowledge about best practices, research and advocacy.
NACEP continues to see significant growth. The annual conference in October was hosted by the Illinois Community College Board in Chicago and was the largest ever with 800 attendees from 45 states. The ongoing growth means NACEP will continue expanding its services to members.
“Regional accrediting bodies for colleges and universities, such as the Higher Learning Commission, are taking a much greater interest in dual credit,” Scheffel said. “Institutions that adhere to NACEP’s quality standards will be much better positioned to respond to the demands of the regional accreditors, and NACEP is working to help colleges and universities meet and exceed those demands.”
While some NACEP programs are more than 50 years old, dual credit is relatively new at many colleges and universities. As programs grow and mature, the reliance placed on NACEP will become greater. Lewis and Clark is one of 92 accredited NACEP members, along with institutions such as Syracuse University, University of Connecticut, Indiana University and the University of Washington.
“Lewis and Clark has received many benefits through our NACEP membership,” Scheffel said. “We recently held our first Dual Credit Information Night for students and parents, our NACEP re-accreditation application this past year included several programs and features that have been added since our initial accreditation, and our recent Higher Learning Commission review resulted in positive comments for our dual credit program. Many of these enhancements resulted from ideas and initiatives that we learned of through fellow NACEP members.”
For more information about L&C’s High School Partnership dual credit program, visit http://www.lc.edu/hsp.