JEFF MEADORS: Early prep is formula for college success

A healthy pipeline to college improves high school graduation rates, boosts percentages of HOPE eligible students, strengthens SAT and ACT test performance, and fortifies GCCRPI scorecards of county school systems.

ACT and SAT tests often guard the gates to college access. Test preparation starting at the middle school level will groom the future pipeline. Test taking strategies differ on these tests; students who know this perform higher.

The Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce leverages early access to college to improve workforce development. The return on investing in this early pipeline is higher college completion rates, higher college GPAs, and a Georgia workforce less prone to crime, poor health and poverty.

But students should know before they go. Not all dual enrollment programs are the same. Low information about grade calculations, duplicate credit and math curriculum complicate the dual enrollment experience if expert guidance is unavailable.

House Bill 131 states that “Dual enrollment coursework in the core content areas of English, mathematics, social studies, science, and foreign language, will be weighted the same as Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) coursework.”

That’s good news but what does it look like on high school transcripts?

While variations exist, a Newton County example illustrates. If a student earns a college grade of A in college chemistry then the numerical equivalent at the high school in Newton is a 95 plus the 10 point weight per HB 131 totaling 105.

If the college A is earned in an EOCT course like U.S. history or economics then the college grade converts as .80 or .85 (depending on when students entered high school) of the total grade at the high school; the 15 percent or 20 percent EOCT exam score accounts for the remaining .15 or .20 of the final grade.

For example, the college grade of A becomes a high school 95 multiplied by .85 (current seniors) to equal 80.7. The EOCT score is then multiplied by .15 and that total is added to the 80.7 — in this case 80.7 + 15 (assuming a 100 percent EOCT score) to total 95.7. The 10-point weight is then added to calculate the final grade, in this example, of 105.7 which is then rounded to 106.

So how do students avoid duplicating credit?

If a student has taken physical science, biology and chemistry by grade 12 then a college science bearing an approved high school state course equivalency code different from the previous three sciences is required to complete four units.

It’s a new day in math levels. Difficulty must increase in the high school-to-college continuum. Accelerated math students typically need college pre-calculus or statistics to earn credit for a new unit of math. College algebra, increasingly difficult for students from discovery math programs, may then become a high school academic elective albeit prerequisite at the college level to the higher math needed for high school graduation.

When high schools tap current sophomores and juniors to start college early while simultaneously grooming eighth- and ninth-graders to prepare for national tests everything rises — completion rates, scores, and taxpayer satisfaction with local schools. Imagine GCCRPI annual scorecards if 20 percent of juniors and seniors participated in at least one dual enrollment class.

Columnist Jeff Meadors may be reached at pjeffreymeadors@gmail.com