College-bound high school students in Bledsoe and Sequatchie counties could gain an expanded dual-enrollment and early college program aimed at technical careers through Chattanooga State Community College in coming years.
The counties' high schools already have "dual credit" and "dual enrollment," or "early college," courses available through the Chattanooga State campus in Bledsoe County, but officials in both counties are working to add a path toward engineering.
The two systems are just getting started on proposed programs of study that dovetail into Chattanooga State's curriculum while still fitting into the high school curriculum, officials said.
"Each system has to apply through the state board of education to get a program of study approved," said Robert Denn, Chattanooga State's dean of school relations and university articulation in the academic affairs division. "That's a long process" that could take months or years to complete.
"A lot of it's speculation, but it is one of those things we're really looking forward to," Bledsoe County career technology education director Steve Reel said.
The addition both systems are working on will bolster ongoing dual-credit and enrollment programs, said Reel, who noted the systems have similar challenges in developing a program of study.
Sequatchie has "a tremendous number of students" interested in technical careers, but the trouble is fitting a new program of study into the existing curriculum and funding it, Sequatchie County career technical education director Melissa Tibbs said.
Chattanooga State "is more than willing to work with us on a long-term plan. With Chattanooga State, we can tap into a resource that is already there," Tibbs said.
Denn said people should know the difference between "dual credit" and "dual enrollment" programs.
"Dual credit" courses are free, taught by a high school teacher for high school credit, and students can take an exam at the end of the term to receive a college credit equivalent for the course, he said.
"Dual enrollment," or "early college," courses are taught by a college professor and students pay the college fees to take the course. They get credit that can be transferred to any college, he said. All courses offered by Chattanooga State are available through an early college program, many of them online.
"Chattanooga State is a great asset for our rural areas," Tibbs said. "We have partnered with them since I took my English through Chattanooga State in 1988 [at Sequatchie County High School]."
Contact staff writer Ben Benton at 423-757-6569 or firstname.lastname@example.org.