Partnerships allow Battle Ground, Prairie students to earn college credit

Students can get a jump start on their college education as early as their sophomore year in high school

BATTLE GROUND — Students no longer have to wait to get into college to earn college credit. In Battle Ground Public Schools, students can start earning the credits that will help them get a jump start on their college education as early as their sophomore year in high school.

From Dual Credit and College in the High School programs to classes that are articulated through regional community colleges, BGPS students have several options to choose from. Considering the increasing costs of a college education, these options could help students and their families save on the cost of a degree program down the road.

CASEE’s Environmental Science students are shown here conducting field work. Photo courtesy of Battle Ground School District
CASEE’s Environmental Science students are shown here conducting field work. Photo courtesy of Battle Ground School District

Through a partnership with Clark College called Career and Technical Education (CTE) Dual Credit, (formerly known as the Southwest Washington Tech Prep Consortium), students at both Battle Ground and Prairie high schools can enroll in a variety of classes on their home campus that if passed with a “B” grade or better, will simultaneously accrue both high school and college credits.

Applicable course offerings include Accounting 1 & 2, Career English, Digital Photography and Photoshop Raster Graphics, Health Sciences Careers, Preschool Education, Anatomy & Physiology, Precision Machining, and Math for Healthcare Professionals.

In all, there are 17 Dual Credit courses for BGPS students to choose from, and these courses have all been identified and approved through formal articulation agreements created between Clark College and BGPS’ high schools. The rigor and content of these courses are matched to those taught at Clark College to ensure students receive the training they need to advance through to completion, essentially giving them a head start in college.

“This is a great opportunity for students who are unable to take advantage of other college credit programs like Running Start,” said Lisa Whitling, English teacher at Prairie High School. “Being able to earn college credit here at PHS helps level the playing field for our students who can’t afford to pay for college courses or who lack reliable transportation to travel between campuses.”

Another way that high school students in Battle Ground schools can earn college credit is through the College in the High School Program. This program is offered through the Center for Agriculture, Science and Environmental Education (CASEE) program, where students can earn college credit for successfully passing Environmental Science. Students in the class conduct real world research with scientists to gain a better understanding of ecosystem function and health. Students use sampling techniques, industry level tools, and technology to assess ecological health. Outdoor research, field studies, and field trips are embedded into the curriculum, and five college credits are available for qualified students through an articulation agreement with Clark College.

“Conducting authentic and rigorous college level projects can excite and motivate students, as well as build a cache of skills and credits that they can take with them into the next phase of their education or career,” said Irene Catlin, who teaches CASEE’s Environmental Science course.

In addition to the Dual Credit and College in the Classroom programs available through the district’s agreement with Clark College, Battle Ground High School students also can take welding courses that accrue college credits from Lower Columbia College. This partnership and articulation agreement is called the Cowlitz-Wahkiakum Career Development Consortium, and includes the courses Introduction to Welding and Advanced Welding.  

Battle Ground Public Schools has a history of strong support from the business community for its Career and Technical Education programs, and has demonstrated innovation and success through student attainment of college credits and skills. Students learn technical and employability skills as well as leadership skills in all program areas. The main objective for CTE is to prepare students for high school and beyond.

No matter which of these college credit pathways a student chooses, each of the available classes integrate academics with technical skills to help students prepare for advanced education and careers.

“Dual credit opportunities are a valuable resource for our students,” said Cindy Arnold, Battle Ground’s Director of Career and Technical Education. “Through this program, students can explore their academic interests before spending money for college tuition, all while simultaneously completing requirements for high school CTE pathways and accruing credits that can be applied at Clark College. Even if a student later changes to a different major, the college credits earned can still be used as elective credits.”

Information provided by Battle Ground Public Schools.

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