A study of more than 30,000 students in Texas found that those who take college courses in high school are significantly more likely to attend and graduate from college than peers who do not.
The Boston-based education nonprofit Jobs for the Future tracked 32,908 students who graduated from Texas high schools in 2004. Half were “dual enrollment” students — completing college courses that typically award both high school and college credit — and half were not, though the two groups were otherwise similar in academic and social background.
The study, “Taking College Courses in High School: A Strategy for College Readiness,” found:
Dual enrollment students were more than twice as likely to enroll in a Texas two- or four-year college, and nearly twice as likely to earn a degree. 54.2% of dual enrollment graduates earned a college degree, compared to 36.9% of non-DE grads. 47.2% of DE graduates earned a bachelor’s degree, compared to 30.2% of non-DE grads.
These benefits held for all racial groups and for students from low-income families.
“We’re excited to add to a growing body of research evidence strongly suggesting that dual enrollment improved education outcomes for all populations, including those currently underrepresented in higher education,” said Ben Struhl, lead author of the report and senior project manager at JFF.
“A big question in education reform has been: ‘How do we increase the college readiness of those most likely not to go?’” said Joel Vargas, report co-author and vice president of JFF’s High School Through College team. “Dual enrollment is a strategy states can use to help answer that question.”
Most states have dual enrollment policies and programs. However, this report urges policymakers to expand college course taking for high school students through dual enrollment as a strategy to increase college readiness and success. The report also encourages policymakers to support efforts that promote the preparation of more students for dual enrollment to get on a path toward completing college, such as early college high schools that target minorities and low-income students — populations that are underrepresented in higher education. Texas has 49 early colleges, serving more than 10,000 students statewide.
Texas’ results are notable because the state has one of the nation’s largest and fastest-growing public school populations and has seen a spike in dual enrollment participation. Texas’ dual enrollment student body has grown from 17,784 in 2000 to 90,364 in 2010 (a 408 percent increase), according to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.