Bettencourt files legislation to expand dual-credit opportunities
When the 86th regular session of the Texas Legislature begins on Jan. 8, Texas high school students may get an expanded chance to get a jump on their college workload.
State Sen. Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston) has already filed Senate Bill 251 to expand dual credit opportunities for students throughout Texas. The bill “expands on bipartisan legislation authored by Sen. Bettencourt in 2015, SB 1004, that created additional dual credit opportunities for Harris County students.”
According to Bettencourt’s office, the previous bill allowed public school students in Harris County to take dual credit courses from any of the four community college systems inside Harris County. As a result, there was a 14 percent increase in dual credit enrollment in Harris County from Spring 2015 to Spring 2016 when the bill was passed, just in the first year of implementation.
“Dual credit expansion in Harris County has given students a chance to save money on their college education and obtain workforce training,” Bettencourt said. “Passing SB 251 will ensure that all Texas students have the same choice in dual credit programs that students in Harris County currently have.”
Since the 2015 passage of SB 1004, Houston Community College has seen a 45 percent increase in dual-credit enrollment, Lee College in east Harris County has seen a 54 percent increase, Lone Star College in north Harris County has seen a 41 percent increase, and San Jacinto College is southeast Harris County has seen more than a 70 percent increase. This enrollment growth is over three years, from 2014-2015 to 2017-2018.
Key provision of SB 251 includes modifying the code to allow a high school student enrolled in a district the ability to enroll in a course at any public junior college that has entered into an agreement with the district to offer the course.
“Dual Credit courses are the perfect hybrid between lower-ed and higher-ed,” Bettencourt said. “When college ready students are able to graduate high school in some cases with an associate’s degree that is a tremendous advantage for Texas students. Nothing says you are college ready like graduating high school with a degree. This saves money for taxpayers too.”
Bettencourt is the chair of the Senate Select Committee of Property Tax Reform, the chair of the Senate Select Committee on Government Reform, and serves on the Senate Finance, Education, and Higher Education committees. Additionally, he is also the vice chair of the Intergovernmental Relations Committee. He also serves on the Joint Committee on Government Facilities and is an active member of the ongoing Texas Commission on Public School Finance, where he is the Chair of the Revenue Workgroup.
Bettencourt serves District 7 in the State Senate. The district includes portions of the Memorial Villages north to Harris County border with Montgomery County.