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College Express program receives state attention 

 
Danville Commercial News
November 24, 2011

DANVILLE — When Lt. Governor Sheila Simon visited Danville Area Community College in September, she was intrigued by a presentation and discussion about the College Express Dual Enrollment partnership between DACC and 13 area high school districts.

Recently, Lt. Gov. Simon invited representatives from DACC, Vermilion Vocational Education Delivery System and Danville District 118 to present details about the College Express program to members of her Classroom First Commission.

The Classroom First Commission was created by state law to recommend ways Illinois school districts can improve student learning opportunities and reduce duplicative administration costs.

Simon’s Classroom First Commission will examine spending that is far removed from students, to cut bureaucracy and redirect tax dollars toward students. The goal is for parents and children to see greater educational options, while services are streamlined in the back rooms of district administrative centers.

The commission will review factors such as academic offerings, performance, financial stability and enrollment in its analysis. Its recommendations are due to the governor and General Assembly by July 1, 2012.

DACC President Alice Jacobs, VVEDS Director Kay Smoot, Danville District 118 Superintendent Mark Denman and DACC Business and Technology Division Dean Bruce Rape traveled to Springfield to address the commission on Nov. 16 and relate to them the success of the College Express partnership.

The administrators were accompanied by DACC student Taylor Poggendorf, a former College Express participant from Westville High School. Poggendorf participated in the health occupations program through College Express and is now taking courses to enter the registered nursing program at DACC.

Administered through the VVEDS, College Express offers dual credit to more than 500 area high school juniors and seniors, 16-18 years old, in 16 career and technical education areas that lead to associate degrees or certificates.

The goals are to encourage high school completion, increase postsecondary degree attainment and provide a skilled workforce. Optimally, a high school student enters the program as a junior and attends classes at DACC for 1½ hours each day. At the end of four semesters, a student may have earned 12-16 college credits. Health occupation students are prepared to take the Illinois Department of Public Health certification exam and receive their CNA certification.

College Express students do well in their college coursework and are more likely to complete associate degrees after high school. More than 90 percent of College Express students receive a grade of C or better in their classes. While 42 percent of recent area high school graduates enroll at DACC, 52 percent of graduates who have completed at least two semesters of College Express classes enroll at DACC. Some students have gone directly into the workforce as a result of their College Express coursework. Because of this partnership, it is no longer necessary to duplicate equipment and lab facilities at secondary and postsecondary sites.

During fiscal year 2011 (summer 2010, fall 2010, spring 2011), more than $567,000 in college credit was earned by DACC District 507 high school students through the College Express program. This savings equates to 3,387 credit hours or 1,321 courses completed.