National Correspondent Inspires Dual Credit Conference Attendees
Author, ABC News broadcast journalist, and motivational speaker John Quiñones addressed attendees at the National Summit for Dual Credit Programs, which welcomed educators from 23 different states including Hawaii. The Summit, which continues Tuesday, is a forum for public schools, private schools, and higher education professionals to engage in a dialogue on closing the achievement gap in college readiness for high school graduates.
ABC News Correspondent John Quinones kicked off this year’s National Summit for Dual Credit Programs inspiring educators in attendance with his story of struggle and success. Quinones grew up in San Antonio in poverty with parents who only obtained third grade educations but who stressed to their children that “education was the way out.”
The Emmy Award winning journalist and host of the TV show “What Would You Do?” remembers shoe shining at the age of eight and picking cherries in Michigan and tomatoes in Ohio as a teen-aged migrant farmworker.
“My father Bruno would ask me, ‘Juanito, do you want to do this for the rest of your life or do you want to get a college education?’ And to me it was a no-brainer,” said Quinones.
Quinones went on to get his bachelor’s degree from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio and a master’s from the prestigious Columbia Graduate School of Journalism.
“I can connect with the dual credit mission very well because I was in a program called Upward Bound… much like dual credit which gave students college courses like math and biology and it made the transition to college possible for me,” said Quinones.
The National Summit for Dual Credit Programs is hosted by South Texas College and the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships. The two-day event attracted high school and college educators working in dual credit, concurrent enrollment and early college programs in which high school students take college courses saving time and money in the process. In all, 23 different states including Hawaii were represented. Breakout sessions and presentations focused on the many challenges facing dual credit programs today, some brought on by the ongoing pandemic.
“We are at a critical crossroads with 25% of all students sitting out college during the pandemic due to economic or health issues,” said South Texas College President Ricardo Solis. “Many of the so-called lost generation were dual enrollment students and we have some catching up to make these students college-ready.”
“I can connect with the dual credit mission very well because I was in a program called Upward Bound… much like dual credit which gave students college courses like math and biology and it made the transition to college possible for me."
Among the other challenges the dual credit educators are facing: finding qualified teachers, funding models and closing the equity gap for students who are traditionally underrepresented in dual credit, particularly Latino students.
“Originally (dual credit) programs started for those high achievers, those high-flying students. Research has started to show that students that are in that 50%, not in the top of their GPA class, are really performing, said Amy Williams, director of the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships. “We see that students who are the first in their families to attend college really are getting added benefits, including students of color.”
And dual credit, once limited to academics, has expanded to Career Training Education like welding, automotive and even nursing.
“Today our high school students have opportunities to take classes not only in academics but in technical programs as well. The numbers are 70% in general studies and 30% in technical programs,” said Rebecca Deleon, dean of Dual Credit Programs and School District Partnerships for South Texas College. “We will see more growth in this area as we try to meet workforce needs and as we see movement in America towards more technical fields.”
Organizers say this conference and others like it are imperative to help educators learn how to deal with the challenges, share best practices, celebrate successes and advance dual credit.