Waxahachie ISD examines dual credit enrollment

Chris Roark
Waxahachie Daily Light

Waxahachie ISD is seeing mixed trends in enrollment of dual credit courses at the high school level.

David Averett

According to data David Averett, assistant superintendent of secondary learning, provided to the WISD Board of Trustees on Monday, there has been an increase in enrollment between 2020-21 and 2021-22 in seven dual-credit courses while there has been a decrease in seven.

Students who participate in dual credit take a college-level course in partnership with Navarro College. The grade earned goes on the student’s high school and college transcript and is used to determine the student’s high school grade point average.

Courses that have experienced an increase are English Comp. III and IV, statistics, chemistry, English literature, government and economics. Those having a decrease are precalculus, U.S. history, sociology, psychology, geology, biology and the proctor class.

Averett said the reason for the drastic drop in psychology and sociology is students in the Indians Scholars program completed those courses, and there are no new Indian Scholar groups coming through.

Still, he said dual credit is an option school counselors and advisers encourage students to explore. He said there are several possible explanations for the dip in enrollment.  

“Financial is one of the barriers we believe,” Averett said. “Even with a 51% discount on tuition — our students in Ellis County do get a 51% discount — that is still around $250 per course.”

He said it’s possible many students aren’t aware of the financial assistance. Averett said there are scholarship opportunities available, such as the Brilliance Scholarship through Navarro and other scholarships through the Waxahachie Education Foundation.

“One of the problems it that students rarely complete the (applications),” Averett said.

He said only 16 students applied for the Brilliance Scholarship last year.  

“We’ve had students apply, but it’s not as many as we’d like,” Averett said.

“Brilliance is a great scholarship if our students would apply for it and get it,” he said. “And I believe we have many students who would qualify for that scholarship as well.”

Averett said several school districts in the area, especially the smaller ones, pay for the student tuition into dual-credit courses, including Avalon, Milford, Italy, Palmer and Maypearl.

He said some districts require the student to receive an “A” or a “B” in the dual credit course, otherwise they can’t continue with the program. He said some districts require the student to pay back the tuition if they fail the course.

Averett said Maypearl ISD reimburses the student for the cost of the course if the student receives an “A” or a “B.”

But he said those school districts don’t offer Advanced Placement (AP) courses like WISD does.

Averett said another possible cause of the enrollment decline is the entrance test given by Navarro for dual-credit students has been revamped.

“Students are having a little difficulty with that,” Averett said.

He said student have traditionally been able to use their State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness (STAAR) test scores to replace the entrance exam, but because of the pandemic students didn’t take those in 2020-21.

But the decline isn’t just limited to WISD. Averett said a colleague he spoke to at Navarro said dual-credit enrollment is down across the area and that the student success rate is also down, adding that a record number of students are on academic probation, in part because of student burnout.

“Dual credit is a great value to get ahead,” Averett said. “But sometimes we can put too much pressure on kids to get ahead. Some of the kids in our area are feeling that pressure, and it’s quite intense.”

Averett said school counselors encourage students to enroll in dual credit based on several factors, such as what the student wants to study after high school, what college they want to attend and do the dual credit courses transfer to the desired college.