The National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships (NACEP) recently granted Pennsylvania Highlands Community College national accreditation for its Accelerated College Education (ACE) concurrent enrollment program. Through the College’s ACE Program high school students are able to take college-credit-bearing courses taught by college-approved high school teachers. Penn Highlands is one of only two colleges in the state that has earned this accreditation, which ensures that the courses offered in high schools are equivalent to courses offered on the sponsoring college’s campus or facilities.
“NACEP accreditation certifies that Pennsylvania Highlands is offering a solid college-level experience in the high schools,” said College President Dr. Walter Asonevich. “The students are earning college credit for college level work.”
The process for achieving accreditation is quite rigorous and includes a self-study, verification that the college is adhering to NACEP’s seventeen standards, and a peer review. “College-to-high school faculty collaboration has been the key component in ensuring that the program was worthy of accreditation,” said Dean of School Partnerships Dr. Melissa Murray. “Over the past four years, Pennsylvania Highlands’ leadership has demonstrated its institutional commitment to our students, the ACE Program, and NACEP standards by providing the necessary resources.”
The Pennsylvania Highlands Community College ACE Program has far reaching impact, serving students in the Southern Alleghenies region and beyond. “We currently partner with 56 school districts throughout the commonwealth and have seen our enrollment grow from 275 students in our first year to a high of 1,700 students in 2012,” said Dr. Murray.
Dr. Asonevich was instrumental in introducing the College to the NACEP model and his experience with concurrent enrollment was a catalyst for the ACE Program’s growth and success. Asonevich believes that the standards set by the institution and the partnerships between college and high school faculty are the most vital elements of the program. “A college campus is not the critical ingredient to what determines whether an education experience is college-level; the critical ingredient is met and measured by the learning outcomes,” he said. Our students are receiving a solid college-level education whether they attend classes on our campus, or in any of the more than 50 high schools where we offer NACEP accredited dual enrollment courses.”
Pennsylvania Highlands Community College is also accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. The College has its main campus in Richland with other locations in Altoona, Ebensburg, Huntingdon, and Somerset.