About Us: The MoACEP Story
It could be said that the story of MoACEP began as early as 1998 when a group of dual credit providers, some of whom would become the founders of NACEP, met at the University of Missouri-St. Louis to hear about the state’s new, detailed policy on dual credit. The policy was slated to go into effect the next year. Approximately 50 people attended the meeting. In 2001 a slightly smaller group met at the state transfer and articulation conference. For the next few years, small groups of practitioners met during or after state conferences, but little interest was shown from more than a handful of institutions. Even so, the small groups consistently recognized the need for an organization to allow institutions to share information and to advocate for dual credit quality in the state.
Solidarity in Accreditation
Even though Missouri had well over thirty dual credit providers by the late 1990s, very few Missouri institutions sought NACEP accreditation. When asked about accreditation or about interest in a statewide group, the concurrent enrollment directors often replied that their administrations saw neither the need for accreditation nor the need for a statewide organization of dual credit providers. [After all, we’re in the Show-Me State.]
The first Missouri institution gained NACEP accreditation in 2007; the second in 2008, and the third in 2011. By 2014 only four were accredited. Missouri policy did not require NACEP accreditation for its providers. Not until 2013, when the Missouri Department of Higher Education (MDHE) began regularly including accreditation in discussions and when a revised state policy was expected to reflect a number of the NACEP standards, did the number of accreditation applicants rise.
With the increase in NACEP-accredited schools and the observation that affiliates in other states were advocating for and providing a number of services to their members, Missouri’s NACEP-accredited institutions began discussions about forming a state affiliate. Several interested directors were already actively serving NACEP on the board, on committees, and on review teams and, at the same time, were invited to serve on a Missouri dual credit advisory board and on committees and working groups charged with drafting state policy concerning college credit programs for high school students.
From Meetings to Organizing
The MoACEP founders meeting took place in 2015 and over the next year, we created bylaws, elected our first group of officers in 2016, and then filed the appropriate paperwork. We were officially recognized as a state affiliate in 2017, launched the MoACEP website, and began recruiting members. The first MoACEP mini-conference was held after the transfer and articulation conference in February 2017 with the then-new state commissioner of higher education, Zora Mulligan, as the keynote speaker.
Many challenges remain because we’re in a state where fewer than half the dual credit institutions are NACEP-accredited, where current state policy does not require NACEP accreditation, and where institutions interpret current dual credit policy in a number of different ways. New state policy is under construction and, if approved, will include a significant amount of NACEP standards language. It is not yet clear, however, if the current draft of updated policy will be approved. Until then, a state affiliate may not gain the interest of potential members.
A Bright Future
Nevertheless, it is MoACEP’s renewed goal to increase communication among its members and to serve as a voice for dual credit and other models of early college. Plans are under way for a monthly newsletter and for a state conference in 2019. At the most recent statewide conference on transfer and articulation held in March 2018, the president of MoACEP led a panel discussion to provide information about and encourage membership in the organization, and it is hoped that attendees will respond by joining MoACEP, thereby joining the voice for quality college credit in Missouri schools.