Law Aims to Sort Out Credit Transfer

A new Virginia law is intended to improve the credit students get for taking college classes while in high school and to make sure those credits stick when they enter four-year institutions.

The legislation, signed into law last Friday, calls for the State Board for Community Colleges to work with three other agencies — the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia, the Department of Education and the Virginia Association of School Superintendents — to create and implement a plan with two main goals:

  • To set standards of "quality, consistency and level of evaluation and review" for dual-enrollment courses offered in high schools that align with the same standards for those classes taught in community colleges; and
  • To develop a process for assessing the transferability of those course credits to any college or university in the state.

Those credits could be transferred as part of a passport program, which several institutions already support, or as a "uniform certificate of general studies," a "general elective course" or some other type of college credit that meets the requirements set by the four-year school.

National research has shown that dual enrolment is a way to increase post-secondary participation. Initially, when dual enrollment was formalized in 2008 in the state, the credit agreements were typically made at the local level — between a school district and the local community college. The new regulation expands that credit largesse to encompass a broader set of higher ed stakeholders — the four-year institutions.

Sponsoring lawmaker Steven Landes (R-Weyers Cave) said in a statement that he was "especially pleased with the enactment of House Bill 3" because its passage would "ensure that students who attempt to cut down on the cost of college by completing dual enrollment courses in high school will actually receive the credit they are due."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.