High school students could soon be required to complete a year’s worth of college credit before graduating.
A hearing was held on Feb. 5 for Senate Bill 222, a measure that would make it a requirement for seniors to complete six college credits to receive a high school diploma.
The bill fits under Oregon’s larger ‘40-40-20’ plan, according to Shawna Elsberry, Director of Retention at Central Oregon Community College.
“The 40-40-20 goal is the umbrella piece that drives the whole conversation,” said Elsberry.
40-40-20 is a goal that states by 2025, 40 percent of adult Oregonians with an associate’s degree or other meaningful postsecondary certificate and 40 percent will hold an associate’s degree or advanced degree, according to the Oregon University System.
“The whole nation is trying to accelerate students through training,” said Elsberry.
Elsberry calls it “momentum.” When students reach the 15-credit milestone, their chance of reaching a degree increases, and even more so when they reach 30 credits.
“If you’re a high school student who has 10 or 15 credits under your belt,” said Elsberry, “you’re more apt to finish than someone who has nothing.”
But are local high schools ready to provide students with these college credits? To teach college credit classes, a high school teacher has to have a master’s degree in the subject they teach, according to Ron Paradis, director of College Relations at COCC.
High schools in the area would be challenged to meet this requirement.
“We’re an IB school with college credit classes,” said H.D. Weddel, principal of Bend High School. “We have teachers on staff who have Master’s in their subjects, but we’d need more. We’re not far off, probably, but we’d need more.”
Senate Bill 222 might make provision for high schools in such a situation as Bend High. The bill also “directs the Teacher Standards and Practices Commission to adopt rules to take into consideration teaching experience gained by teachers through accelerated college credit programs for purposes of issuing or renewing licenses and endorsements,” according to the measure summary.
To Elsberry, this sounds like the government is trying to meet high schools where they’re at.
“It’s almost like ‘are you going to make it to where the rules aren’t as stringent?’” said Elsberry.
However, Senate Bill 222 isn’t in its final form, according to Paradis.
“I think they’ll make a lot of changes,” said Paradis, “between now and when it comes up to vote.”