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Bill would expand Ohio student access to college courses

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(The Center Square) – Ohio high school and junior high students could get more opportunities to earn college credits at little to no cost, and more high school teachers could teach those classes under a proposal in the Legislature.

A new bill that passed the Senate and hasn’t had any committee hearings in the House would enact several recommendations State Auditor Keith Faber made in a 2021 report, including allowing students to sign up for the program semester by semester.

Currently, students have to register by April 1 or wait another year.

“The overarching purpose of this legislation is to ensure that Ohio high school students are able to get a jump start on their higher education under as efficient and effective a program as possible,” said Sens. Jerry Cirino, R-Kirtland, and Andrew Brenner, R-Delaware, in committee testimony.

The state’s College Credit Plus Program began in 2015 and allows high school and junior high students to take college classes and receive college credit. The state picks up the costs, but students could be responsible for some course fees.

Classes can be taken at local high schools if teachers are accredited, or at local colleges and universities.

According to the 2021 audit, more than 76,000 students participated in the program during the 2021 academic year, earning more than 650,000 credit hours.

Cirino and Brenner hope to increase access by expanding registration times and increasing the number of high school teachers available to teach the classes by establishing an alternative credentialing process to certify teachers with relevant teaching experience.

The bill has the support of the Ohio School Board Association, the Ohio School Counselor Association and the Ohio Association of Community Colleges.

Also, the Senate recently passed a bill that requires free-market capitalism to be taught in high schools. That bill awaits a decision from Republican Gov. Mike DeWine.

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