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Dual credit bill changes state law


A change in state law furthers Gov. John Kitzhaber’s education reform efforts, clarifying who can participate in dual college credit courses — and helping more students to do so.

Kitzhaber on March 3 signed Senate Bill 1574A, which involves changing a state statute governing dual credit options — classes high school students take to receive college credit and secondary school credit simultaneously. Adding that students “in any grade from nine through 12” can take such courses replaces language that did not specify grade levels, and the bill requires programs to clearly show how students can get credit. The bill also expands the duties of the Accelerated Learning Committee, which will seek out and study community colleges that have adequate funding and meet the financial needs of the community they’re in, state documents state. Both sides of the aisle were unanimous on HB 1574A with a couple of lawmakers out on excused absences.

The law was one of several education-related bills the Legislature reviewed during the regular 2014 session, which adjourned March 7. The hub connecting many of the legislative spokes is the governor’s 40-40-20 goal, which became law in 2011. The 40-40-20 goal is that by 2025 all adult Oregonians will have a high school diploma or equivalent, 40 percent of them will have an associate degree or a “meaningful postsecondary certificate” and 40 percent will possess a bachelor’s or advanced degree.

“Our work this February will improve access to community college for low-income Oregonians. ... With the close of session, we will maintain our focus on pursuing a world-class system of public education,” Kitzhaber said in a prepared statement.

Another bill that came before the Legislature that could have affected K-12 was House Bill 4127A, which was returned to committee and not revisited by the close of the session. It would have required that four of the 13-member OEIB must work or have worked in primary or secondary education to the Oregon Education Investment Board.

The OEIB represents kindergarten to college students and efforts to transition people into the work force. Kitzhaber spurred its creation while pursuing his education reforms.

Linking back to the freshly minted dual credit option changes — OEIB provides staff support to the Accelerated Learning Committee, which was established in 2013 to examine ways to encourage and enable students to obtain college credits while still in high school.

SB 1574A is a great way to further that effort, said Hilda Rosselli, who is a college and career readiness director at the Oregon Education Investment Board.

“If there’s a lack of clarity around information about what options are available — and sometimes there’s not even equity across the options — families and students may have a very limited idea of what’s available and what they can take advantage of,” she said.

The committee’s report to interim legislative committees on education regarding recommendations for how to increase students’ access to college credit courses is due Oct. 1.