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Indiana seeks extension for dual-credit teacher rules

November 24, 2015

 Indiana is seeking a deadline extension for new credentialing standards requiring most of the state's dual-credit teachers to earn additional college credit.

Plans to seek an extension were announced Monday by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education. The Higher Learning Commission voted earlier this month to allow states to seek an extension of up to five years to prepare for the new requirements by September 2016, with new credentialing standards slated to take effect in 2017.

The Higher Learning Commission is the regional accreditation organization designated by the federal government for Indiana and 18 other states.

The new guidelines cover educators teaching college-level courses, including teachers of courses in which students simultaneously earn college and high school credit. Educators will be required to hold a master's degree with at least 18 credit hours in the subject area they teach.

Under the current state policy, Indiana's dual-credit teachers must have the same credentials as college instructors or be approved by the college that awards students credit.

Lawmakers serving on a dual-credit advisory council expressed frustration about the Higher Learning Commission's new requirements. Sen. Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn, and Rep. Wendy McNamara, R-Mount Vernon, plan to co-author a legislative resolution "condemning" the Higher Learning Commission.

"What I think our biggest problem is basically having an entity that is inflexible and not understanding of what's best for a sovereign state," McNamara said.

Indiana Commissioner for Higher Education Teresa Lubbers said the state wants the Higher Learning Commission to look into an exception to new requirements based on teacher quality, potentially measured by student performance and professional awards.

The advisory council also talked about ways to encourage teachers to get more college credit, including schools covering the cost of classes needed for a master's degree or giving teachers stipends for dual-credit classes.

"There has to be some financial benefit to doing that," Lubbers said.

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