New Accreditation Assures Quality Education for High School Students Taking College Courses
“Some students and parents might ask, ‘Is it worth it to take CCD courses in high school? Are they really getting the same education as in college?’” says Dr. Brandon Protas, Ed.D. Director of College Pathways at Community College of Denver (CCD). “Now, we can guarantee that high school students participating in CCD’s concurrent enrollment at their high schools are meeting the same standard of education as all CCD students.”
CCD earned that recognition on May 1, 2018, when the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships (NACEP) granted the school accreditation. It is the first college or university in Colorado to receive this prestigious distinction.
“This validates the quality of our programs,” Dr. Protas says. “It transforms who we are as a college.”
NACEP accreditation lasts for seven years, at which point CCD will go through the process for reaccreditation.
While many schools have methods for aligning college-credit high school courses with their college courses, the requirements for accreditation are more stringent.
To earn the NACEP stamp of approval, CCD went through a rigorous three-year application process. Dozens of faculty and staff from across the college evaluated and made improvements to institutional practices and policies, including onboarding faculty, course syllabi, student handbooks and the standards of achievement.
How Accreditation Improves a College
Accreditation ensures that students taking college-level courses in their high schools receive the same quality educational experience as if they were on the college campus. NACEP judges how consistent a college or university is in its curriculum, faculty qualifications, student readiness, learning, and support, and assessment and program delivery, in both the college and high school settings.
CCD assembled hundreds of pieces of evidence to document the quality of its concurrent enrollment practices. As one example, to demonstrate that the college classes offered at the high school campus match those at the college, CCD submitted paired syllabi and graded assignments. The samples from the high schools and those from the college proved that the assessments are equivalent and that students meet the same rigorous levels of academic expectations to earn their grades.
“This establishes and validates a high standard that CCD sets for all students,” Dr. Protas says.
Through accreditation, students are also guaranteed that their high school teachers leading college-credit courses meet the same hiring standards as a professor at that college. They must have a master’s degree in their subject area, for example, and they also must interview with the appropriate college department chair. CCD appoints its concurrent enrollment high school teachers as college adjunct instructors and offers ongoing professional development and support.
A Path to College
Through concurrent enrollment, students do not have to pay for tuition; each year, students and families save more than $2 million through access to the program. CCD serves students in the metro Denver area and has partnerships with many Denver Public Schools high schools.
At every CCD commencement ceremony, there are students who earn college certificates and associate degrees before graduating from high school. In the spring semester of 2018, 68 high school students completed a certificate or associate degree while still in high school.
Students interested in participating in CCD’s concurrent enrollment should contact their high school guidance counselor.
Learn more about CCD’s College Pathways by contacting 303.352.3301 or ccd.edu/College-Pathways