State Dual Enrollment Policies
Not Sufficient to Reach Students Who Might Benefit Most
While most policy-makers and educators hope to expand the availability of credit-based transition programs at community colleges for a broader range of high school students, few states have legislation that supports outreach to low- and middle-achieving students.
“State Dual Enrollment Policies: Addressing Access and Quality,” a new report released in mid-October by the Community College Research Center, analyzes dual enrollment legislation in all 50 states and whether these polices promote or inhibit the spread of dual enrollment programs. The report was presented at an event on Capitol Hill organized by the American Youth Forum, a nonprofit development organization that bridges youth policy, practice and research for professionals working on youth policy issues at the national, state and local levels.
“State Dual Enrollment Policies” identifies 10 features by which dual enrollment programs can vary from state to state, including admission requirements, program structure, course content, funding and whether state policies mandate their existence. The report also finds that the state policies to guide dual enrollment programs differ widely. Twelve states do not have any legislation addressing dual enrollment at all, while the remaining states do not address all 10 criteria. Where policies exist, states often focus on ensuring that dual enrollment programs preserve the standards of college education and protecting their financial investment. These priorities, combined with a lack of legislation in many states, can conflict with the goal of making dual enrollment programs accessible to a broader range of students.
“In programs around the country, dual enrollment experiences are inspiring some low-achieving students to become better prepared for college through more demanding academic coursework,” said Dr. Thomas Bailey, director of the Community College Research Center. “Policy-makers should do more to develop programs and services that effectively link secondary and postsecondary education so that more students have the opportunity to rise to a college-level academic challenge.”
In examining the implications of state policy for programs and students, the report also finds that limited state policies and regulation leave program decisions up to the institutions, thus creating uneven program structures across the states. The study makes the following recommendations for policy-makers and program regulators:
• Identify funding mechanisms that meet the needs of all stakeholders ;
• Identify the needs of students beyond academic course taking;
• Clarify program goals so that the policies and regulations support the stated goals of the program; and
• Balance the needs of academically oriented students with the needs of technically oriented students.
“Dual enrollment programs offer an innovative solution to engage a broad range of students who might otherwise disengage. Our research is intended to help develop policies that can better support and encourage the successful implementation of dual enrollment programs,” said Bailey.
A complete copy of the report is available at <www.tc.columbia.edu/ccrc/>. The research and report were funded by the Office of Vocational and Adult Education, U.S. Department of Education. For more information, contact Ivette Zamora at
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