Wytheville Community College (WCC) recently received accreditation through the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships (NACEP) for its dual (concurrent) enrollment programs offered in partnership with area public schools. WCC is the second community college in the Virginia Community College System and one of only 134 colleges in the nation to earn this prestigious recognition.
WCC’s Dual Enrollment Program provides opportunities for high school students to enroll in select college-level courses while they are still completing other high school requirements. These courses give students the opportunity to excel academically and earn college credits with generally no cost to them or their parents.
“One of the major benefits of WCC’s dual enrollment program is that it helps high school students recognize that they have the ability to be successful in college courses and encourages students to seek post-secondary training and education,” said WCC President Dean E. Sprinkle. “This is especially important for many first-generation college students.”
Receiving NACEP accreditation means an institution has met the nation’s most rigorous standards in concurrent enrollment program development, management, and evaluation across multiple, multifaceted program areas. To earn accreditation, concurrent enrollment programs conduct a self-study, document how their programs adhere to NACEP’s 16 standards, and undergo a rigorous peer-review process conducted by a team of representatives from NACEP accredited programs as well as the NACEP Accreditation Commission. The accreditation is valid for five years for initial accreditation and then seven years for reaccreditation, during which time programs commit to uphold NACEP’s standards and report annually on program practices.
Susan W. Evans, WCC’s Dean of Transfer and Educational Partnerships, stated, “WCC’s achievement of NACEP accreditation was a massive undertaking that involved the participation of just about every department on campus as well as all of our partner school divisions. The NACEP accreditation is a large piece of the effort to make sure the students in our region are provided high-quality college course offerings in their high school environments. While the accreditation was earned by WCC, this recognition reflects the commitment to superior education in our entire service region and the valuable working partnerships with the public schools.”
Wytheville Community College full-time faculty work with high school dual enrollment faculty to ensure consistency in course goals and outcomes and to share teaching strategies and resources. Dual enrollment teachers from WCC’s nine participating high schools collaborate with college faculty to ensure that they have access to the same information and resources as campus faculty. Dual enrollment faculty are regularly invited to participate in WCC’s professional development programs and information sessions. This includes an annual Dual Enrollment Workshop where dual enrollment instructors and college instructors engage in conversations about both the successes and the needs of the program’s students.
Josh Floyd, WCC Dual Enrollment Coordinator, led the NACEP accreditation process. “I was ecstatic when learning of the news surrounding our successful NACEP accreditation,” noted Floyd. “Prior to this process, our dual enrollment students were already reaping the benefits of earning concurrent college credits within their schools. By having the opportunity to take dual enrollment courses through WCC, students – along with their families – are proactively eliminating or greatly reducing future college debt. Having NACEP accreditation exponentially helps our students demonstrate the rigor and alignment from these courses towards the completion of individual educational pursuits – be it at WCC and/or another institution of higher learning.” Floyd works closely with high school dual enrollment students and advises them about the dual enrollment program as he counsels them about their post-graduation higher education plans.
NACEP Accreditation Commission Chair, Michael Beam, congratulated recent accreditation recipients. “On behalf of the Accreditation Commission, I want to congratulate all of the newly accredited and re-accredited programs. These programs have successfully demonstrated that they meet the NACEP standards for high-quality programming for concurrent enrollment, and college provided faculty models. Many thanks to the hundreds of volunteers who make this process possible, specifically the Accreditation Commissioners and the Peer Reviewers. None of this work and support is achievable without their amazing contributions,” stated Beam.
Currently, seven school systems participate in WCC’s dual enrollment program including Bland, Carroll, Grayson, Smyth (Marion Senior High), and Wythe Counties, Galax City schools, and Oak Hill Academy.
“Earning NACEP accreditation is an extraordinary accomplishment,” said Dr. Sprinkle, WCC President. “I look forward to watching our WCC students succeed in their dual enrollment courses and in their post-graduation efforts.”