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College Access Denied - Dual Credit - Enrollment not attainable for some Illinois disABLEd students

(110 ILCS 27/) Dual Credit Quality Act.This law is supposed to help students enter college life and success. Many high school students receive emails because of their great GPAs and attendance. They are told that they can participate in dual enrollment and free community college through the STAR program. Well, most students that have an intellectual disability can't access the college courses due to the construct of the entrance exam. Most students that have an intellectual disability can't complete the program because there are minimal supports at best. Equity in Education does NOT fault the colleges; however, we will lay the initial responsibilities for just and equitable education at the feet of our Illinois legislature. We need to support our neurodivergent scholars with space and supports.

Let's begin with expanding the definition. The definition currently in the Illinois Administrative code is: (110 ILCS 27/5) Sec. 5. Definitions. In this Act: "Dual credit course" means a college course taken by a high school student for credit at both the college and high school level. Furthermore, in section 10, one of the purposed identified is: (6) To offer opportunities for improving degree attainment for underserved student populations.

(Source: P.A. 96-194, eff. 1-1-10.)

Here, the interpretation of credit is credit towards an associate degree or similar. It would address the purpose of the law to expand the definition or interpretation of credit to include continuing education credits.

Access to STAR and similar programs: A Case Study of Kendra

Kendra is an African American student with an intellectual disability. She is in the CORE Program. She is currently participating in an internship at Portage Park Elementary School. She is functioning as a teacher assistant in pre K and is executing her duties independently at a high quality. We would like to move towards hiring her as a paraprofessional. However, due the restrictions on 2:5 classes, she will be unable to achieve the early childhood certificate. Due to the restrictions on other courses, she will be unable to achieve an associate's degree. She is currently able to perform all the Teacher Assistant duties of a Pre-K program at a high level. She can’t access this career path currently. The jumpstart to jobs program at Truman requires college ready English which is a score of 6. Kendra scored a 1.

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