Expansion of PSEO proves bipartisan efforts can work

Thanks to the Minnesota Legislature and Gov. Mark Dayton, Minnesota tenth graders will be able to take college-level accredited courses while  in high school, starting next school year.

This dual-credit program is a win-win for 10th graders who now will be able to earn high school and college credits, with the state funding the college tuition, and books.

These sophomores will join juniors and seniors who already are taking college-level courses for high school and college credit.

Credit the Center for School Change and a host of educational organizations  for getting this Post Secondary Option (PSEO) legislation passed, with bi-partisan support.

Under this new provision, 10th graders may enroll in career technical courses at Minnesota colleges and universities, provided they have passed the eighth grade comprehensive test in reading. By maintaining a C grade, they will be able to continue to enroll in the dual-credit courses.

Eligibility and acceptance standards will be determined by the college and university.

Proponents for opening the program to sophomores contended that sophomores already are taking advanced placement tests along with juniors and seniors. They argued that 10th graders through testing have demonstrated they can do college work.

Several national studies have found that students who participate in dual credit programs are more likely to graduate from high school, to enroll in college, to start a four-year college education and to stay in college for two years.

The expansion of the program continues Minnesota’s leadership in having the PSEO program, adopted in 1985. Since then, more than 110,000 students have used the program. Minnesota was first in the nation to establish this kind of PSEO programs.

Remarkable during this difficult legislative session, Republicans and Democrats supported this legislation. Among the leaders were: Senators Gen Olson, R; and Terri Bonhoff and Sandy Pappas, DFL and Representatives: Sondra Erickson, R; Pat Garafolo, R: Mindy Greiling, DFL and Carlos Mariani, DFL.

Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius backed the legislation and Gov. Dayton signed the bill.

Good legislation results when legislators swallow their partisan differences and make good laws for sound reasons, as evidenced by opening the door of dual credits to sophomores. — Don Heinzman