- Studies show students who participate in dual enrollment programs are more likely to finish high school and continue into a postsecondary institution, but dual- or joint-enrollment opportunities tend to be targeted to the highest performing students, according to a new brief from the Education Commission of the States (ECS).
- Opening up access to dual enrollment programs for middle- and lower-achieving students, however, might ensure that more students have access to and are better prepared for college-level coursework, the authors write.
- The brief includes examples from several states showing how schools either created alternative eligibility criteria for dual enrollment programs or offered more pre-collegiate experiences, such as summer bridge programs and student success classes, that improved their chances of being admitted to a dual enrollment program or pursuing college after graduation.
Broadening students’ access to Advanced Placement and dual enrollment opportunities has been a major strategy in recent years toward the goal of increasing students’ preparedness for college. Limiting those programs to students who would enroll in college anyway sends a message to those without stellar grades that educators don’t think they are “college material.”
Opening those programs to lower-level students might be counterproductive, however, if schools don’t offer students additional support and preparation to succeed in those programs, such as campus tours, transition courses focusing on English and math, and developmental coursework as part of dual enrollment programs.
The ECS brief shows that career and technical education (CTE) programs — which are experiencing a resurgence in high school — also have a place in helping more students take advantage of dual enrollment programs.
“A spike in state-level CTE policymaking that began in 2013 has resulted in a proliferation of new and redesigned career pathways programs that improve alignment from high school to postsecondary, as well as with workforce needs,” the authors write.