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Indiana Teachers Get Five Additional Years To Meet Dual-Credit Requirements
Updated December 28, 2016 4:36 AM | Filed under: Education
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(INDIANAPOLIS) - Indiana teachers of increasingly popular classes that allow high school students to earn college credit hours will have five additional years to meet new academic requirements for those courses, a regional accreditation agency says.

State lawmakers and education officials were stunned in 2015 when the Higher Learning Commission -- the regional accrediting agency for Indiana and 18 other states -- unveiled new educational requirements for Indiana's dual-credit class instructors.

Under the requirements, a high school teacher must now hold a master's degree to teach a dual-credit course. Though many of those teachers already meet that threshold, they would also have to earn 18 credit hours in master's level courses in the subject they plan to teach.

Indiana lawmakers, fearing that the requirements set to take effect in 2017 would disqualify thousands of teachers, quickly passed a resolution that urged the commission to revise the guidelines.

But earlier this month, the commission announced that Indiana's dual-credit teachers will have five years to complete the new academic requirements. That's good news for about 30,000 college-bound Indiana high school students who are earning college credit in the courses.

Indiana's reprieve from the new academic requirements runs through September 2022. But maintaining a strong selection of the high-demand classes could still require help from state lawmakers, the Indianapolis Star reported.

Even with the five-year reprieve, 2,100 teachers will have to go back to school to keep the programs going. And it's unclear who will pay for their additional schooling.

Lawmakers set up a framework for providing tuition assistance to those teachers during the past legislative session, but they did not allocate any money for the proposed $4,000-per-teacher stipend that was envisioned as coming from a mix of state and local funds.

State Sen. Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville, the Senate's chief budget writer, said he doesn't know whether funding the stipend is an acceptable mechanism. But he said lawmakers will consider that issue when they write a new, two-year state budget in their session that begins Jan. 3.

"We want to continue to take advantage of (dual credit) and fund it up a little bit," Kenley said.

The debate comes as dual-credit participation is growing fast across Indiana, rising from about 12,000 students taking courses in 2011 to nearly 30,000 in 2014, data for Indiana's public colleges show.

Indiana Commissioner for Higher Education Teresa Lubbers said she expects "some movement this legislative session to actually put some dollars into" the stipend. But she also expects help in other ways, including possibly offering extra pay for those who teach dual-credit classes.

"We need to make sure that we give the opportunity and likely a financial incentive for people to come back," Lubbers said.

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