Legislature Wants More College Prep

SPRINGFIELD, Ore. — With those recently released high school graduation rates, improving education is top of mind for a lot of people, including legislators.

Currently a large amount of students are earning college credit before they even send in applications, but a bi-partisan group of Oregon law makers wants to make sure every Oregon high school student has a head start on higher ed.

What if your kids could knock out an entire year of college, skip the time and the tuition, and get right to their sophomore years?

Well that idea is part of what Washington County Senator Mark Hass is suggesting with Senate Bill 222.

“It will save so much money for students and their families when they go into college, so that’s number one. Number two is that it will make their high school experience so much more productive than it is now,” Hass said.

Earning college credit early is something many students already take advantage of.

“Last year, Springfield High School gave out 3,550 college credits to more than 500 students,” said Devon Ashbridge, Springfield Public Schools Spokesperson.

Springfield students aren’t the only ones. According to the Oregon University System, last school year, 44 percent of all OUS freshmen brought in some form of college credit.

“We found there are many benefits to that. Our students are able to leave high school [ahead of the game], some of them leave and are technically sophomores in college when they enroll, because of how many credits they’ve received, and it also helps cut costs for families,” Ashbridge said.

“If they could walk out of South Eugene with 30 or 40 credits, they’re going to save thousands of dollars off the cost of a bachelors degree,” Hass said.

It is a great opportunity, for some. Critics say that college prep plan doesn’t work for every student or for every learning style. Hass and his co-sponsors realize that. He says it’s more the motivational aspect of the idea that he wants to accomplish with this bill.

“It helps shift the culture a little bit, which we need to do in Oregon. There’s still lots of families who don’t believe higher education is necessary in today’s workforce, and I’m here to say it’s absolutely necessary,” Hass said.

Like any bill, Hass says the language could all change by the time the Senate actually votes on Senate Bill 222, but his hopes are that whatever happens works toward bettering the education of Oregonian students.

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