Dual credit enrollment falling in Katy ISDCourse fee elimination in Houston Community College’s dual credit office have not had the same effect on Katy ISD students as in neighboring Fort Bend ISD. The program’s enrollment in FBISD surged nearly 186 percent between the 2015-16 and 2016-17 school years, while the number of enrolled KISD students has dropped, according to data from the school districts.

HCC eliminated the $216 course fees for dual credit classes in 2016, which were levied against students who live outside the community college’s taxing district. Dual credit was also extended to all grades instead of only 11th- and 12th-graders thanks to the passage of House Bill 505 in 2015.

Nevertheless, about 16 percent fewer KISD students enrolled in dual credit in 2015-16 than in 2014-15. Cazilda Steele, KISD executive director of secondary curriculum and instruction, attributed the low interest in dual credit to several factors.

“We have a really robust [Advanced Placement] program,” she said. “More students would rather take that because their GPA is weighted.”

Similar to AP courses, dual credit classes are designed to mimic the rigor of a college course, but with dual credit students receive college credits as well as high school credits simultaneously.

Textbook costs, which often range between $100-$200, are also a turnoff for students, Steele said. Another inconvenience is that dual credit students must take Texas Success Initiative tests at HCC’s Katy campus to qualify for classes.

Catherine O’Brien, HCC associate vice chancellor of college readiness, said the community college made the fee change because of its mission as an “open access” institution.

“We want to see students getting on a [postsecondary education] pathway as early as possible,” she said. “Students are more likely to finish college the earlier they start it.”

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