If you’re in high school, then you may be eligible to take college-level courses at your school, which may be accredited by The National Association of Concurrent Enrollment Programs or NACEP. These courses may be called concurrent enrollment courses, dual enrollment classes or something similar, and they’re taught by regular high school teachers who have been approved to teach the more advanced course material. The NACEP oversees accreditation of such programs in an effort to make sure that students throughout the United States receive standardized education.
Concurrent enrollment enables students who are in high school to take courses that are designed for college students. The purpose is twofold: to prepare students for the tougher course load of a college curriculum and to help students earn college credits while they’re still in high school. You may also see concurrent enrollment programs listed as “dual enrollment,” but there may be slight differences in the approach of these programs.
Advanced Placement and other programs that depend on passing standardized test exams are also different from concurrent education. With concurrent education, students take college-level courses from instructors who meet certain criteria, and the course itself determines a student’s final grade. The primary difference between concurrent enrollment programs and other advanced programs is that the instructors for concurrent enrollment education are high school teachers who teach these courses on high school campuses.
The Role of the NACEP
As an independent, non-government organization, The National Association of Concurrent Enrollment Programs sets, maintains and evaluates the standards of concurrent education. It’s the only organization that oversees concurrent enrollment in the United States.
Founded in 1999 by a group of concurrent enrollment educators, the organization has expanded into 48 states, encompassing a variety of educational institutions. Members include 241 two-year colleges, 117 four-year universities, 41 high schools and school districts, and 22 state agencies or system offices. The goal of the NACEP is to ensure that students who enroll in concurrent programs gain access to high-quality courses taught by qualified instructors.
The NACEP awards accreditation to concurrent enrollment programs based on standards that the organization adopted in 2002 and revised in 2009. These standards cover five categories: curriculum, faculty, students, assessment and program evaluation. Within each of these categories, there are several parameters that the NACEP uses to grant accreditation. For instance, the faculty category requires that instructors who teach concurrent enrollment courses be provided with discipline-specific training and orientation, and annual discipline-specific professional development activities. Concurrent enrollment programs also have to ensure that faculty members comply with the standards. Any concurrent enrollment program that hopes to gain accreditation must submit to a review of its procedures and policies in order to be approved by the NACEP.
To prepare for college, most high school students have the option to take a wide range of advanced courses, which includes concurrent enrollment programs in different subjects. Concurrent education can give students a glimpse into college expectations while allowing them to earn college credit ahead of time. Accredited concurrent enrollment programs ensure that students receive a standardized education from qualified instructors, which can make the transition into college smoother. If you decide to enroll in a concurrent program, you can check its accreditation status with The National Association of Concurrent Enrollment Programs.