New bipartisan measure would expand dual enrollment opportunities for high school students in Arizona

A new bill would encourage high school students to take more dual enrollment courses by providing financial assistance to qualifying students and providing incentives and funding for schools and teachers that offer the courses.  

Dual enrollment courses are college level courses that are taken in a high school classroom to earn both high school credits and college credits.  

The sponsor of SB 1717, Sen. Steve Kaiser, R-Phoenix, touted the merits of the legislation during testimony to the Senate Commerce Committee. 

“This is a great tool for families across Arizona to reduce the cost of college and to help folks get a trade before they graduate high school. What I really love about this bill is that it is a reimbursement; students have to be performing at a certain GPA, they have to be passing classes,” Kaiser said. “Additionally, it helps with teachers getting certified. The [reason] why dual enrollment is not more widespread is twofold. First, there are not enough teachers trained and certified; second, these programs can be very expensive. This [bill] solves both problems.” 

The bill later was heard in the Senate Appropriations Committee, where it also passed with bipartisan support. 

“This bill offers our schools and students a real opportunity to expand and participate in dual enrollment programs across the state. This could be a monumental step in increasing access to post-secondary education,” Sen. Raquel Terán, D-Phoenix, said. “This bill would provide significant investment to address those costs and provide a stipend for teachers who meet the level of training required.”  

Fellow Phoenix Democrat Sen. Lela Alston agreed.

“I’ve been working for 10 years with the Phoenix Union High School District to get more kids enrolled in dual enrollment,” she said. “For many of our kids it’s an issue of not ever thinking about going to college. If they can have some of their credits already paid for, it can help them not only with their confidence in their ability to do college work, but also allows them to save money.”  

The bill has many supporters including school districts, community colleges, the Arizona Career and Technical Education District Consortium, all three state universities, the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, Greater Phoenix Leadership, and the Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry.   

Former Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Jaime Molera said in a tweet that the bill was “invaluable” and creates “a meaningful dual enrollment system that provides core academic credit or certification towards a career.” 

The bill awaits a vote of the full Senate before it can be considered in the House.

Abby McLain

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