Earning Credit Where Credit is Due

May 13, 2016

Students at Caldwell High School recently earned credit where credit is due. Thanks to a community effort between College of Western Idaho (CWI), the Whittenberger Foundation in Caldwell, and Boise State University, more than 50 students got a jump start on their college education. They collectively earned 728 credits through the College-Level Examination Program (CLEP).

CWI’s CLEP Initiative

Over the past few years, CWI’s Dual Credit team has been actively working to help Spanish-speaking high school students earn college credit through native language skills testing. Students who successfully pass CLEP testing can earn between eight and 16 credits. The tests are conducted at Boise State’s Testing Services. The credits earned are kept in a national database for up to 20 years, and can be transferred to a student’s institution of choice when they are ready.

“The test isn’t the most important part of this; getting them here on campus is,” Steve Jenkins, CWI’s Dual Credit and College Readiness Project coordinator, said. “Exposing them to college is key.”

Students Who Benefit

Some of the students who recently tested say they have already chosen where they want to go to school. CWI, Boise State, and University of Idaho are among their top choices. Then there are a number of students like Max San Pedro who have yet to decide. Out of 80 possible points, he scored a 78—the second highest score to date.

“I know I want to work in the oil industry as an engineer,” San Pedro said. “But I don’t know where I want to go to school yet. I’m only a junior. I’m taking chemistry as a dual credit course. I just have to figure it out.”

That’s where people like Claudia Beltran can help. The Spanish teacher at Caldwell High School worked to expand this CLEP initiative to include all high school students who could benefit—not just juniors and seniors.

“One of the students testing here today isn’t even a native language speaker,” Beltran said. “Our goal is to give all students an incentive to go on.”

Partners Make it Happen

The Whittenberger Foundation played a large role in this day’s testing effort. The actual test and transportation cost per student is roughly $150. The Foundation awarded the CWI Foundation with a $5,000 grant to help cover the majority of the expenses.

“The Whittenberger Foundation chose CWI for this grant because of its focus on the youth of Southwest Idaho,” Scott Gipson, the Whittenberger Foundation’s board president, said.

In addition to the grant, Boise State provided students with lunch and allowed them to tour the campus. CWI also picked up some of the cost, and coordinated the testing.

“We could not do this without our valuable community partnerships,” Stephen Crumrine, CWI’s Director of Dual Credit, said. “This is a brand new initiative. We (CWI) are the only ones who are doing this, and we have the connections to make it happen.”

“Being a newer institution, it gives us the flexibility to offer these types of services,” Jenkins said. “Some of these students weren’t even thinking about going to college. Now they are. This is a catalyst to get them there.”

To date, the Dual Credit team has helped Treasure Valley high school students earn 2,213 college credits through CLEP testing.