CEDAR FALLS — The number of concurrent courses are growing at Cedar Falls High School as students take fewer other “senior-year-plus” options.
Jason Wedgbury, the high school’s principal, presented the numbers to the Board of Education last week.
Concurrent courses, where students earn both high school and Hawkeye Community College credit, steadily grew for nine years before taking a small dip last year. For the current year, though, course enrollments jumped again from 975 to 1,114. Concurrent offerings include both career and core courses.
“We have a lot of concurrent enrollment opportunities,” said Wedgbury. “We have a lot of students who are choosing to go this pathway. I think there are some advantages, I think there are some potential pitfalls.”
He noted the cost of the classes are paid for by Cedar Falls Community Schools, saving money for students in college. Typically, though, that means taking higher level courses during the freshman year of college, which he said can make for a harder transition with some students.
“That trendline is just growing and growing,” he said.
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Wedgbury pointed to the slight shift away from Advanced Placement courses, where earning college credit depends on final test performance and the college’s policies. However, “it is probably our most-rigorous coursework that we offer,” he noted.
Enrollments dropped from 575 last year to 518 for the current year. “So, 28 percent of our student population are enrolled in an AP course,” said Wedgbury. That’s a drop from 32.1 percent of students in 2017-18, a 10-year high for the advanced classes.
Most Cedar Falls students enrolled in AP classes also take the optional test that allows them to potentially earn college credit. That was 72 percent last year and, of those, 84.3 percent reached the score where awarding college credit was possible.
“Our AP scores are strong,” said Wedgbury.
The number of courses taken through post-secondary enrollment options at the University of Northern Iowa for the current year weren’t included in the report. But the 39 courses taken in 2017-18 were a drop from 47 the year before and were part of a four-year trend in declining enrollments for the program. Those classes also earn college credit.
Historically, the vast majority of Cedar Falls High School students graduate after taking some AP courses or the two college credit-earning options. For the class of 2018, that included 81.4 percent of the graduates, “just down slightly from the year before,” noted Wedgbury, when 84.3 percent had enrolled in them. Since 2010, the percentage of graduates taking the courses have ranged from the mid-70s and up during all but the first three years, with the lowest at 63.2 percent.