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The high cost of college is being whittled down by local school districts that offer college-level classes for credit.

The program is an option to the advanced placement college level classes the high schools have offered for many years. Students can get college credit also from AP classes if they score high enough on the high stakes final exam. With the new Cooperative Academic Partnership Program, grading is more like in college. Final exams are important but do not determine whether a student get college credit.

Eisenhower Middle/High School is in its second year of CAPP and New Berlin West is in its first year. About 50 New Berlin students are enrolled. Muskego High School will offer its first college classes next fall.

High school teachers who qualify as adjunct professors of the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh teach the CAPP classes. When students graduate, they receive a transcript from UW-Oshkosh. The classes can transfer to other schools, if the student doesn't plan to attend Oshkosh. Before enrolling in CAPP classes, students can check if the credits will transfer to where they are going.

However, credits from UW-Oshkosh go to more universities than credits from most other state universities because UW-Oshkosh is one of only 90 universities in the country accredited by the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Providers, said John Dobyns, director of outreach and operations for CAPP at UW-Oshkosh.

1st year college?

In the fairly near future, students might even get to pack in a whole year of freshman credits before they graduate from high school. Gov. Scott Walker is pushing the one plus three program where high school students would graduate with only three years of college to go, Dobyns said. The one plus three would be possible only at select high schools, he said.

"Any school with a top-notch teaching staff could do it," Dobyns said.

The CAPP classes aren't free, like advanced placement classes are, except for the $90 exam at the end. The students pay a reduced college tuition of $90 per credit. But they have the peace of mind of getting college credit in the end, Dobyns said.

School districts like CAPP because is adds no cost, he said. The students taking a class for credit through CAPP usually sit in normal advanced placement classes, Dobyns said. Because AP classes are college level freshmen classes, very little in the way of curriculum changes are needed to align them with UW-Oshkosh classes, he said. So, there is no additional cost to the schools.

The university gives a stipend to the adjunct professors and $300 per class to buy whatever equipment is needed for the more rigorous college class. That equipment can be used in any classes.

Must qualify

Both teachers and students have to qualify for the program.

For example, to be deemed an adjunct professor in math, a teacher needs a master's degree in math or in math education, Dobyns said. Then the teacher submits a syllabus to UW-Oshkosh to make sure the proposed class lines up with the university curriculum. If it does, the class is a go for registration, if not it must be modified until it does reflect its counterpart class at the university.

There are nearly 300 adjunct professors at Wisconsin high schools, under this program, Dobyns said.

"We were lucky to have several teachers who have master's degrees in areas such as history, biology, chemistry, Spanish, French, and rhetoric," said Kristi Brooks, Muskego-Norway School District director of secondary teaching and learning.

Similarly, students have to meet certain criteria to be accepted.

"We want no students unprepared and get a bad grade on that transcript," Dobyns said.

4,000 in CAPP

About 4,000 students are taking CAPP classes this semester, he said.

Because CAPP is so new in New Berlin, the high schools are likely to see more students taking CAPP classes, based on increases other schools have seen, he said.

The CAPP partnership high schools are all over the state, from Eagle River, to the Mississippi River, to Middleton, he said. Local programs include Elmbrook, Greendale, Franklin, Kettle Moraine, Menomonee Falls, South Milwaukee Cedarburg, Homestead and Port Washington.

"Everyone has had a positive experience," Brooks at Muskego said. It's good for both students and the district, she said.

College-ready

"Bringing CAPP to Muskego High School allows more students to experience college-level classes, rigor, and be better prepared to successfully complete college," Brooks said. "Research indicates that students who take rigorous coursework in high school are more prepared for college." It also, obviously brings down the cost of college, she said.

School officials choose UW-Oshkosh for a reason.

"Oshkosh, Stevens Point, and Whitewater all have dual-enrollment programs. We went with Oshkosh because they discount the tuition for any student who qualifies for free and reduced lunch," Brooks said. "The others don't offer that."

Also, if  students  pass Spanish or French 6, for example, with a B or better, they can get college credit for levels 1 through 5, she said, resulting in 21 college credits but only paying for one CAPP class.

An option

CAPP will be another option for Muskego students, she said. Currently, 14 Muskego High School students go off-campus to attend classes at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Carroll University, WCTC and the University of Wisconsin-Washington County, Brooks said. Some attend all day, some just take one class. They provide their own transportation.

They too will receive high school credit for their classes and transcripts from these universities once their coursework is complete, she said.

CAPP is actually 41 years old. It started when high schools in the Fox River Valley found they could not keep up with their gifted students.

"The top end kids couldn't be served," Dobyns said. So, the schools turned to the nearby university, and the concept of dual enrollment was born.

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