The amount of Louisiana students earning college credit during high school is on the rise. According to  data collected by the Louisiana Department of Education, more students earned college credit on this past school year’s College Level Examination Program (CLEP) exams than previous years.

CLEP is a program that gives students the possibility to show their understanding of introductory collegiate concepts and earn college credit that applies to various postsecondary institutions nationwide.

State leaders are still in the process of finding the best way to give early college credit opportunities to all Louisiana high school students. The newest pathway is the Dual Enrollment Framework Task Force. This group will study various ways for high school students to earn credits that will count towards not only their high school diploma, but also prerequisites at different postsecondary institutions across the state.

The newly released CLEP data shows how many students are benefitting from the program. The amount of high school students earning college credits has increased by 5 percent since the 2017-2018 school year. Since the program’s conception during the 2014-2015 school year, 558 percent more students have the opportunity for CLEP exams.

The amount of CLEP examinations taken during a school year has also increased. The number of CLEP exams taken during the 2018-2019 school year shows a 52 percent increase from the previous year. Since 2015, the program has seen a 521 percent increase. These new numbers man that Louisiana leads the nation in the number of CLEP exams given to high school students.

In total, high school students from Louisiana earned over 16,000 credit hours in 2019. This saved approximately $7.7 million in college tuition and fees.

If students receive a 50 or higher on their CLEP exam, they could receive from 3 – 12 credits of college-level work before leaving high school. The more credits earned in high school, the less the student will have to pay for at university.

While saving $7.7 million is only an estimate, the amount of money saved is probably higher. This is due to the American Council on Education’s recommendation of college credits for each subject being higher than three credits.

CLEP is only a single way for students to earn college credit during their high school years. Another option is Advanced Placement. The Advanced Placement program offers high school courses with a college-level curriculum. A different alternative would be Dual Enrollment. If a student partakes in dual enrollment, they would simultaneously enroll at both a high school and a college, earning credits at both.

Dual enrollment is the focus of the state’s new Dual Enrollment Framework Task Force. The task force was created during the 2019 Louisiana regular session. The Dual Enrollment Framework Task Force’s main goal will be to evaluate existing laws and policies in regards to early college credit opportunities. They will also collaborate with other state agencies and groups partaking in the same work. The group will then present their results and recommendations to the state’s Senate and House committees on education.

The group’s first meeting was July 24. The next will be September 9.

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