LaRue County high schoolers can earn college credit

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By Ron Benningfield

Imagine being in high school and taking a course that will not only count as one of your high school credits but also will give you three college credit hours.
That dream is a reality at LaRue County High School, according to Rex Hanson, mathematics chairperson and one of several dual-credit teachers there.
“The class is taught by a high school teacher during the regular school day,” he said.
The program is in partnership with Campbellsville College. He teaches precalculus, which counts as college algebra and trigonometry credit.
“I also teach AP (advanced placement) calculus which transfers as elementary calculus college credit,” Hanson added.  
Students have several methods to qualify, but the main requirements are that they have a 3.25 GPA (grade point average) and a composite score of 21 on the ACT with a 19 in the specific ACT subject area.
Students who have not taken the ACT can qualify by being in the 60th percentile on the PLAN composite and the specific PLAN subject area. PLAN is a college readiness test given to all LCHS sophomores.
For a class to qualify as dual credit, it must be one that could also be offered on the college campus with a program of study approved by the chair of the specific department and taught by a teacher who could also teach on a college campus.
To be eligible to teach the course, the instructors must have their master’s degree, 18 hours of which must be in the specific subject area they teach.
Since the course is already considered college level, students do not have to do anything extra in the high school course, Hanson explained. Not every student who takes the course must participate in dual credit. The student must qualify and want to participate.
Summer Garris teaches AP English language and composition which transfers as Freshman Composition One in the fall and Two in the spring. Dee Hutchins teaches AP U.S. history which transfers as U.S. history to 1877 in the fall and U.S. history since 1877 in the spring.
SPAN program
Eric Cecil is the contact person for a dual credit partnership with Western Kentucky University that started this year in college prep and honors chemistry.  
Cecil teaches AP chemistry which transfers as general chemistry and lab.
“These courses are also referred to as the SPAN program as they are designed to span the gap between high school and college,” Cecil said. “All credit hours are fully transferrable to any Kentucky public college or university. How these hours count toward degree requirements may vary from school to school.”
Both Hanson and Cecil noted that the dual credit courses, though they do cost the students to take them, can save those students hundreds of dollars compared to the alternative of waiting to take them in college.
Hanson said if LCHS students took all the courses offered through Campbellsville, they could earn as much as 25 hours college credit.
“It is possible that a student leaving LaRue County High School could start college as a sophomore,” said Hanson who cautioned, “Students need to be careful, though, because most colleges do not require 12 hours of college credit in history, so if they were to take all of these classes, they would have hours but not hours that will meet a general education requirement once they are in college.”
He advises students to be sure to check the specific requirements of the college or colleges they plan to attend to make sure they don’t take unnecessary classes.
“These credit hours count as general education credits, meaning they can be used by students majoring in any area,” Cecil said. “If the SPAN students major in agriculture, nursing (2- or 4-year), dietetics or the two-year dental hygiene program at WKU, they will not have to take any other WKU chemistry courses, provided they complete both parts of the SPAN curriculum.”