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Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton to offer college credits at high school

Tony Reno uses an overhead projector while teaching geometry class at D-G-F High School in Glyndon, Minn. Reno will be teaching college-level algebra and pre-calculus for college credit during the next school year. (David Samson/The Forum)

GLYNDON - Campus-bound juniors and seniors in Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton will have a new option to rack up college credits this fall.

They'll get to take college-level classes without venturing out of their high school classrooms, through a setup called concurrent enrollment or College in the Schools.

The Minnesota Office of Higher Education says concurrent enrollment is the fastest-growing option for getting college credit in high schools statewide. For students, it's a way to score credit for free and challenge themselves. For school districts, it's a way to hold on to juniors and seniors who also can take free classes on campus.

"We can teach students these same subjects right here in our own house," said D-G-F Superintendent Randy Bruer.

His district will offer college algebra, pre-calculus, advanced composition and literature in partnership with Minnesota State Community and Technical College, Fergus Falls. They will be taught by instructors with master's degrees already employed by the school district.

Junior Lisa Holman plans to take both math classes. She's a self-described numbers junkie eyeing a career in accounting or engineering. She would have considered taking the classes on an area campus, so she's glad she'll stay in her school's small-class setting.

Getting a head start on college credits is appealing.

"I haven't been stressing about it," Holman said about the cost of college, "but there's that worry in the back of my mind that college will be too expensive for me."

Since MSCTC started offering concurrent enrollment in 2001, the number of districts taking advantage has grown to 24, mainly in the past four years, said Jill Abbott, associate dean of academic and student services. Those include Hawley, Lake Park-Audubon and Frazee.

"What the schools tell us is they really want to provide students with an opportunity to take rigorous, college-level coursework," Abbott said.

Bruer said the district stands to gain financially. It will pay MSCTC a fee for each class, but the amount is a fraction of the state funding the district loses on students who take college classes outside the district.

D-G-F also will add several online college-level classes. The district had the option of expanding its Advanced Placement class selection, but Principal Terry Karger said concurrent enrollment has some advantages. With College in the Schools, students take tests and write papers throughout the semester. With AP, college credit rides on one major exam at the end.

Moorhead Superintendent Lynne Kovash said 25 students took classes on the Concordia College, Minnesota State University Moorhead and MSCTC-Moorhead campuses last year. The district keeps most college-bound students thanks to its wide array of 12 AP classes.

"We do lose some of our students to the universities," Kovash said, "but that's part of school choice in Minnesota."

Area college-level class options

• Barnesville: The district introduced online college-level classes three years ago. Superintendent Scott Loeslie said some students like getting a head start on college credits while others say classes are hard and tend to isolate students from their peers.

• Lake Park-Audubon: The district has offered concurrent enrollment for more than five years. "Our goal is to provide at least one credit in each of our core academic areas and expand our options in elective areas," Superintendent Dale Hogie said.

• Fergus Falls: The district is one of the pioneers in introducing concurrent enrollment in the region. Superintendent Jerry Ness said the math, writing and literature courses it offers are extremely popular.

• Norman County East: The district has offered concurrent enrollment for more than a decade. Today, half of its seniors take college English and a third take college algebra classes.