Superintendent Reykdal Launches Proposal to Remove Financial Barriers to Dual Credit and Workforce Development Opportunities

OSPI has submitted the proposal to the Governor and Legislature for consideration in the 2023 Legislative Session. If funded, Washington’s high school students would no longer be charged out-of-pocket fees for dual credit courses and programs like Running Start and Advanced Placement.

OLYMPIA — October 5, 2022 — Cost, a longstanding barrier for Washington students looking to earn college credit or industry recognized credentials while in high school, would be eliminated under a budget proposal described in a press conference today by Superintendent Reykdal.

“The goal of our education system is to prepare all of our students for their post-secondary aspirations, whatever they may be,” said State Superintendent Chris Reykdal. “Removing this financial barrier will provide more students with the opportunity to graduate with college credit or an industry recognized credential, setting them up for success.”

The proposal would remove out-of-pocket costs charged to students and their families for College in the High School, Running Start, Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB), and Cambridge International. The proposal would also provide funding to support student participation in Career and Technical Education (CTE) Dual Credit programs and attainment of state-approved industry recognized credentials.

“I have been fortunate to be able to participate in the dual credit programs at my high school,” said Elise Garza, Student Representative to the Othello School Board and a 12th grade Running Start student. “I believe these are opportunities that should be available to all students, regardless of their financial circumstances. By eliminating the financial cost of dual credit programs in our high schools, the same doors would be opened for every student.”

To remove costs for students and their families, the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) is requesting $99 million in the 2023–25 biennium, which would provide equitable access to dual credit, make credential attainment more affordable for high school students and their families, and help to close the 14.5% participation gap between students from low-income families and their peers from middle- and higher-income families.

“I am always eager to partner with Superintendent Reykdal and others as we look for ways to make it easier for students to earn college credit while in high school,” said Sen. Mark Mullet (5th Legislative District). “Programs like Running Start and College in the High School accelerate and enhance student success, a benefit that extends well beyond the individual to businesses and households throughout the community.”

In Washington state, there are two types of dual credit programs: course-based and exam-based. In course-based programs, a student is enrolled in a class that allows them to earn both college and high school credit. These programs can cost students up to $350 per course. In exam-based programs, students take an exam at the end of a high school class to earn college credit. These exams can cost students between $53 and $178 per exam.

“This proposal will allow more students to graduate high school with college credits and help them finish earlier with less student debt,” said Rep. April Berg (44th Legislative District). “Education is our paramount duty and our state’s budget is a reflection of our values. That’s why I’m proud to support a budget that makes our education system more accessible and fair — paving the way for a brighter future for all Washington students.”

Reykdal’s proposal also provides funding to formalize CTE Dual Credit programming in Washington state. These programs are taught at the high school by high school teachers and are approved by partner colleges. High schools and colleges enter into agreements that ensure these courses — which often provide opportunities to earn employer-valued industry recognized credentials — can provide college credit toward a degree or certificate.

“We commend Superintendent Reykdal and his team at OSPI for their bold action in addressing one of the largest barriers — financial — in regard to a student earning college credit in high school,” said Scott Friedman, Associate Director for the Association of Washington School Principals. “High school principals in our state work every day to provide access to opportunities for their students. Removing all associated financial barriers will increase options for students and remove many inequities to access that currently exist.”

Dual credit participation has a myriad of benefits for students. In addition to a reduction in the overall cost of college, students enrolled in dual credit programs have increased rates of high school graduation, college enrollment, and ‘college persistence,’ measured as the rate at which students return for a second year of college. Programs also help students gain the academic skills needed for college and provide students with the confidence that they are “college material.”

“We know that participating in dual enrollment programs helps students get on a college pathway and complete college at higher rates,” said Adar Abdi, Community Outreach Director for the Legislative Youth Advisory Council (LYAC). “Eliminating the financial barriers associated with dual credit education encourages students in Washington state to know that higher education is an option, not a limitation.”

The plan to provide more equitable access to dual credit programs is the fifth in a series of transformational budget and policy proposals Superintendent Reykdal will unveil through November called Washington State Innovates: K–12 Education for the 21st Century and Beyond.

For More Information

OSPI Icon with text that says Washington State Innovates: K-12 Education for the 21st Century and Beyond. To the right, this conference’s topic, Equitable Access to Dual Credit

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The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction

The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction

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Led by Supt. Chris Reykdal, OSPI is the primary agency charged with overseeing K–12 education in Washington state.