Home > Advocacy and policy > Bill limiting dual enrollment revived in Georgia legislature

Bill limiting dual enrollment revived in Georgia legislature

The Atlanta-Journal Constitution reports that last year’s bill to limit the dual enrollment program is active again in the state legislature, as I predicted would happen when the bill was tabled late in the 2019 session.

The front-page story in today’s paper recaps what we know from last year: participation in dual enrollment has exploded in recent years, and as a result, the program has blown its allocated budget. The state has already shifted some dual enrollment costs to the colleges and universities that provide the classes, and is looking for additional ways to rein in spending.

As you may remember from the 2019 legislative session, the bill (HB 444) would cap the number of hours of dual enrollment classes that the state would pay for. According to the AJC, students enrolling at four-year colleges and universities would be limited to 15 credit hours per semester and 30 credit hours overall. Caps would be higher for students enrolling in technical education classes at technical colleges.

(Note: The version of the bill posted online shows limits of 16 credit hours per semester and 32 total, but perhaps the AJC reporter knows of a change that hasn’t been posted online yet. Last year, a substitute version of the bill written in the House did set the caps at 15 and 30 hours.)

Students could take classes beyond these “covered” limits, but would have to pay for them out of pocket.

Earlier versions of the bill from 2019 would have allowed students to charge additional dual enrollment classes against their future HOPE scholarship allocations; however, that option was removed during committee rewrites last year.

My position is mostly the same as it was when I posted about this last year. From a practical standpoint, I understand why limits are needed to control costs.

I also think it’s reasonable to have limits. I don’t agree with the parents who wrote to me last year to argue that the state should pay for unlimited college classes for high-school students and then turn around and pay for four full years of college under HOPE as well.

A limit of 30 credit hours works out to 10 college courses taken during high school. That ought to be plenty for students at high schools that offer AP classes in most core subjects.

However, for students in high schools that don’t offer many AP classes, 10 dual enrollment classes might not be enough. These students may have an unmet need for more rigorous classes to adequately challenge them, and if they want to get into selective colleges, they also need to keep up with their peers at bigger and better-performing high schools, who routinely take 15 or more AP classes.

That argument may not get much traction in lobbying legislators, though, because this bill also defines the purpose of the dual enrollment program, and it has nothing to do with providing advanced learning options for gifted students.

The purpose of the dual enrollment program shall be to provide qualified high school students with access to rigorous career and academic courses at higher education institutions in order to increase high school graduation rates, prepare a skilled workforce, and to decrease postsecondary students’ time to degree completion.

Georgia HB 444, Lines 19-22 (emphasis added)

State legislators could argue that providing advanced learning options for gifted students isn’t a state responsibility to be handled through dual enrollment, but rather is the responsibility of local public school systems, as mandated by state law. But, as advocates for the gifted, we need to know that school systems can fulfill the requirements of that law by providing gifted high-school students just one gifted or AP class per semester. That’s not enough for students who need the challenge of college-level coursework.

In my opinion, the 30-hour cap should be put in place for students in high schools with robust AP programs. However, I’d like for students in high schools with limited AP options to be able to apply for exemptions from the credit hours caps, or have the option of tapping into their HOPE funds to pay for classes beyond the caps — at least for classes that are in core academic areas (math, science, English / language arts, and social studies).

Step one, though, would be to convince legislators to amend the bill’s language on the purpose of dual enrollment to include serving Georgia’s gifted and advanced learners.

If you want to take action on this bill

The bill is in the Senate Higher Education Committee. That committee is chaired by Lindsey Tippens, who also is listed as the bill’s sponsor in the Senate. The other members of the committee are:

If one of these legislators represents your senate district, start by e-mailing them.

It’s also not too soon to get in touch with members of the Georgia House of Representatives. On that side, the bill would go through the Education Committee. The committee has 24 members, who are listed on the committee’s web page.

Categories: Advocacy and policy
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