College Credit Being Banned From High School In The Name Of Equity

One school district is looking to make it harder for some students to attain college credits all in the name of equity.

By Erika Hanson | Published

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college credits

The high school convention of taking college-level courses ahead of time is a practice that has been going on in high schools for a long time. It’s a means to give high-achieving students the ability to get a head start on their rigorous college curriculum, as they earn credits towards a degree. But as equity continues to be a heated topic in the nation, the battle now rages on inside schools that allow AP courses or college credits to be obtained as part of their schooling. And one school district is looking to ban the practice in the name of equity

Piedmont City Unified School district near Oakland, California is a small district that predominantly educates white students that come from wealthier homes. Current data reports that 58% of the student body is white, while Asian/Pacific Islanders account for 14%, and Blacks make up only about 1% of the district. On Wednesday, the school board held a board meeting that covered a plethora of topics, but one that stood out regarded college credits. As presented by the district’s superintendent, the second docket item on the list for review was a provision allowing students to count college credits earned on their transcript. The superintendent and various staff want to nix that practice. 

As the ruling currently stands, Alternative Credits towards graduation were allowed to be obtained from an outside accredited school from the district. This act was recently amended this way following the onset of the pandemic as a means to provide more flexibility to students during closures. But two years later, much of the staff feel that this ruling needs to be ended, as they claim it hurts student equity. They have proposed that going forward, no courses taken at a fee-based or private accredited school should be counted as college credit on the student’s transcript if they are enrolled at Piedmont High School. 

college credits

The college credit ban discussion first was proposed at another school board meeting on March 9th. During that session, district staff informed the Board that the allowance to attain college credits outside of the district led to “unintended outcomes” that the staff believed to have negative effects on the student body. They claimed many negative factors in their notes, such as increased isolation, less social interaction, less exposure to social justice/equity discussions, and unfairness to students whose parents could not afford to pay for their children to obtain college credits elsewhere. There was no vote yet, and the topic will be addressed again on April 27th.

The controversial proposal to the school board has drawn attention on Twitter, as screenshots of the board meeting agenda regarding the ban of outside college credits have been shared across the social media outlet. But the problem with all of this is that it doesn’t appear that the faculty are trying to ban college credits altogether, more so just the practice of enrolled students attaining them elsewhere. As it stands, Piedmont High School does offer basic AP classes in almost all of its high school subjects.

But even if they aren’t banning all college credits, the school board meeting sheds light on a bigger issue many feel this proposal addresses, and this is in naming equity as a reason to need to bar students from attending classes elsewhere. Yes, it is likely true that a wealth disparity plays into things. However, this was probably not the best way for the school leaders to handle the situation. If anything, they should instead figure out why their students and families feel the need to go elsewhere to receive college credits. And instead, maybe they should address the equity situation by adding more AP classes into the schools’ curriculum, instead of telling a group of students that their ability to attain more accreditation is unfair to others.