Central Alberta school divisions are opening up career choices for students by offering more dual credit classes.
Dual credit classes are career-based courses in Grades 10, 11 and 12 where students can earn both high school credits and credits that count toward a post-secondary certificate, diploma or degree, including a journeyperson certificate.
In June, school authorities were able to apply for a dual credit start-up grant of up to $50,000 and/or a dual credit enhancement grant of $100,000.
Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools received both grants.
Tracey Millar, the division’s dual credit lead, said the grants are invaluable and allow students to better transition from high school by taking post-secondary classes or trades training.
“It’s those experiences they have about how to learn at that post-secondary level that sometimes will give a reluctant learner the confidence to move forward,” Millar said.
She said a lot of students want to go into the healthcare field and the division is expanding healthcare services dual credits for students to study to become healthcare aides and more in partnership with Red Deer Polytechnic.
Red Deer Catholic is also upgrading equipment to offer dual credits in automotive service technician training.
Chinook’s Edge School Division also received both grants and now has 12 students taking classes at Olds College to become veterinarian technical assistants, and is expanding equipment for robotics programming and drones in agricultural technology.
Jason Drent, associate superintendent of learning services with Chinook’s Edge, said studying for a career has a positive impact on students’ success.
“Our preliminary results are suggesting that when a student participates in a dual credit experience, whether it’s the single courses or the certification program, there is virtually a guarantee that they’re going to graduate from high school,” Drent said.
Other central Alberta jurisdictions that received start-up grants were Clearview School Division, Sunchild First Nation School and Wild Rose School Division. Wolf Creek Schools received both an enhancement and a start-up grant.
For the 2022-23 school year, Alberta Education is providing more than $1.8 million in dual credit start-up grants and more than $2 million in dual credit enhancement grants.
Of the 61 total grants awarded, 18 school authorities will receive both grants, bringing the total number of school authorities receiving grants to 43.
“Dual credit programs help students make meaningful transitions to post-secondary education, trade designations or the workplace,” said Education Minister Adriana LaGrange, in a statement.
”Expanding on these opportunities is vital to improving high school completion rates and building a qualified, educated and engaged workforce. I look forward to the positive impact this funding will have on Alberta’s students and our economy.”