Study: Dual Enrollment Programs May Increase Access and Success for Low-Income Students

Dual enrollment programs that permit high school students to enroll in college courses for college credit may increase postsecondary access and success for minorities, males and low-income students, according to a recent report by Community College Research Center.

The CCRC’s report concluded that dual enrollment programs were useful for encouraging postsecondary success for all students, including those on a career and technical education track, by increasing academic rigor, providing more academic electives and helping students acclimate to college life.

The report, “Postsecondary Achievement of Participants in Dual Enrollment: An Analysis of Student Outcomes in Two States,” examines the effects of dual enrollment participation for students in Florida and New York City. “Both states had comprehensive databases that tracked students from high school through college,” says Melinda Karp, lead researcher for the report.

Researchers found that in Florida, which has a long-standing statewide dual enrollment program supported by state legislation, “dual enrollment participation increased the likelihood of initially enrolling in a four-year institution by 7.7 percent,” Karp says.

Low-income students participating in dual enrollment programs had an increased chance of 22 percent of enrolling in college compared to their non-enrolled peers. Lastly, the study found that students with lower grades participating in dual enrollment programs also enrolled in college at a higher rate than non-enrolled students with low grade point averages.

“The study indicates that for male and low-income students the impact of participating in dual enrollment is greater. These students are getting more bang for their buck,” says Karp

The New York analysis looked at the City University of New York’s a dual enrollment program, which serves nearly100,000 students annually, involving every institution in the CUNY system and nearly 300 high schools. College Now students are 9.7 percent more likely pursue a bachelor’s degree than their non-enrolled peer, according to the data.

College Now participants, who were more likely to Black or Asian, had higher rates of CUNY admission. The grade point averages of College Now participants was 20 percent higher than non participants. College Now students who took two or more college courses were 3.5 percent more likely to enroll fulltime in a college than non-participants.

Unlike high school college-prep programs such as International Baccalaureate and Advanced Placement that simulate the college experience with rigorous curriculum, dual enrollment students take actual college courses with a college syllabus on a college campus.

Dual enrollment is also presumed to reduce high school dropout rates and increase student aspiration. Students participating in dual enrollment programs had statistically significantly higher college GPAs one year after high school graduation. Dual Enrollment students’ postsecondary grade point averages one year after high school graduation were, in some cases, were .2 points higher than their non-dual enrollment counterparts.

There is no empirical data that speaks to why dual programs increase postsecondary access and success, but experts argue that college-level exposure peeks interest among high school students and allows for a better understanding of what college is and what is expected of them.

During the 2002-03 academic school year, 813,000 high school students took at least one college-credit course, according to the U.S. Department of Education, and experts believe that this behavior will persist.

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