BY KAREN CAMPBELL
Weakley County Schools Communications Director
DRESDEN (January 31) – Thanks to the inquisitive mind of Dresden High School science teacher Rachel Abbott, her students – and possibly students across the county – will have a means of gaining college credit for their high school science work.
While Biology II is a class that is currently offered at almost all high schools in the county, no post-secondary options are available for students wanting to gain Science credit for college. Such options are available for history, math, and English as Weakley County Schools has arrangements for dual enrollment in those subject areas, but science is not included, noted Instructional Supervisor Donald Ray High.
Calling Abbott a “science teacher extraordinaire” as he introduced her brief presentation to countywide school administrators at their regularly scheduled meeting, High, pointed out, that while dual enrollment usually employs a university or college-based instructor either in person or via an online connection, in Abbott’s case, “We are using our teacher and she is doing the work of providing instruction, overseeing online discussions and grading homework, so it is a different approach than what we normally refer to as ‘dual enrollment.’”
The new option came about as Abbott, who came to DHS in 2019 to teach Biology I and Chemistry, began to investigate how she would approach her new assignment for 2021-22 of a Biology II class. She talked with her counterparts in schools outside the district and learned of modernstates.com. Modern States Education Alliance™ is a non-profit dedicated to making a high-quality college education free of cost and accessible. The service provides an online platform for preparing for the College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) in numerous subject areas.
Abbott explained that, with approval from school and district administrators, she launched the course. Three days a week she focuses on content. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, her 15 students work online through modernstates.com.
Abbott shared with administrators that students watch online videos and participate in discussions and complete homework which she grades and which are designed to help them with CLEP test prep. If a student receives a passing score or 50 or higher on the CLEP test, they then receive 8 hours of Biology credit.
Abbott said that the University of Tennessee at Martin, Jackson State Community College, and Dyersburg State Community College have all indicated they would acknowledge the credits.
The CLEP score does not transfer as a letter grade but instead is recorded as a pass and, therefore, does not affect the student’s GPA, Abbott reported. The online service is provided free of charge and, if the student is proficient in completing the online course at 75% or higher, they are eligible for a voucher from Modern States Education Alliance that pays for the cost of the CLEP test.
“This is a first for us in Weakley County – meaning that we have not previously been able to provide our students with an opportunity like this in the science department,” said Abbott, “I am excited about what this means for our students who are pursuing a degree that needs science general education credits. This is a great way for them to gain those without it costing them anything at all.”