Mexico High School has joined area schools in teaching math classes which will allow interested students to earn college credit at Truman State University in Kirksville. The program is different from existing dual credit classes that MHS offers in conjunction with area colleges.
The primary difference is in the way mastery of the class is determined, and in the price of earning the college credits, according to math department chair Keith Louder.
"The students earn high school credit and a grade for Truman State at the same time," he said. "But, the college grade is based on proof that the student has mastered the material through the scores earned on three exams."
There are two semester-long classes offered at MHS which can result in college credit at Truman, College Algebra and Trigonometry. There are 75 students enrolled in algebra this semester, taught by Louder and Andrea Chipman. Algebra will again be offered next semester, along with Trigonometry which will be taught by Louder.
There are currently 27 students signed up to take the tests to determine if they can earn college credit. The students who qualify will earn three hours of college credit for Algebra and two hours of credit for Trigonometry.
"Students don't have to be going to Truman State to take advantage of this opportunity," Louder said. "Virtually any school in Missouri will accept credit from Truman."
The program is also offered for current Truman State students, who are enrolled in the classes on campus.
The cost of the college credit is reasonable, and Louder urges students and parents to look at the financial advantages. "The cost of the credit is $120 per hour," he said. "To take the same class at the university costs $290 a credit hour, a considerable savings for a basic class."
Louder also stresses the advantage of taking basic math classes in high school, where students meet five days a week instead of the traditional three at college, and where students have closer access to instructors.
The class content is not controlled by the university. There is no required textbook or syllabus. There are objectives provided, and the teachers determine their own instructional methods and strategies to meet these objectives.
The first of the three required exams will be given in College Algebra in approximately two weeks. The tests are mastery-based, which means the students can re-take the tests until they earn the 70 percent required. The actual percentage earned on the tests determines the final grade in the class.
"This program is a good opportunity for our students," Louder said.
"Particularly for college-bound students who do not plan on math being their major field, getting these credits taken care of now can be a motivating factor."