Next year, students at Irondale High School will have more chances at earning free credit toward a two-year college degree as part of a program that has caught the eye of President Barack Obama's education chief.
U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan will visit Irondale at 1 p.m. Friday to participate in a town hall meeting with Gov. Mark Dayton and Minnesota Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius to discuss how to improve pathways from school into careers.
The high school in the Mounds View school district will be the first in the state to offer a comprehensive early-college program that will broaden the offering of dual-credit courses at the high school level to younger students in the middle of their academic class.
Typically, college-credit courses are most available to the highest-achieving students.
Obama has set a goal for the U.S. to lead the world again in the proportion of students earning college degrees. Yet the cost of college continues to rise, and students and educators are looking for ways to make higher education more accessible.
Many see dual-credit high school courses as one way to offset the growing expense. It is also a way to give students a taste of college at a young age.