Dual Enrollment: A Pathway to College and Career Readiness
Dual Enrollment: A Pathway to College and Career Readiness
Florida. Florida has been a long time leader in the arena of dual enrollment. Legislators have historically placed an emphasis on creating and maintaining a credible, affordable, and seamless K-20 educational system via a comprehensive and centrally articulated array of choices to earn college credit while still in high school. The state requires that courses taken count simultaneously for college and high school graduation. Dual enrollment is articulated under Florida statute, which mandates that all 28 community colleges and specific four-year institutions offer dual credit course. Dual enrollment is one of five acceleration mechanisms identified by the Florida legislature in 1973 (Collins, 2011).
Of the five acceleration mechanisms, dual enrollment is viewed as the pathway to a postsecondary degree not limited to gifted students but also includes those considered middle achievers or those on a career or technical track. As a result, participation in dual enrollment grew from 27,689 students in 1988-89 to 34,273 in 2002-03. According to the Florida Board of Education, this growth rate included a high increase in participation among African American and Latino students. Since that time, Florida’s K-20 Education Code has continued to support dual enrollment as a critical component of the state’s educational strategy for acceleration of high school diploma completion. Significantly, in terms of placing structure on articulation between the K-12 system and institutions of higher education, an Ad Hoc Committee of the Florida Articulation Coordinating Committee (ACC), comprised of representatives from public school districts, community colleges, state universities, private institutions, and Department of Education staff, was formed in 2002 and charged to identify postsecondary courses and credits completed through dual enrollment that will satisfy high school graduation, determine the number of credits awarded for completion of each dual enrollment course, develop a statement of transfer guarantees for dual enrollment courses, and establish a procedure for annual review of inter-institutional articulation agreements. In addition, Florida requires every school district to enter into an articulation agreement with a community college to facilitate articulation and acceleration.
These programs have been in place long enough now to begin showing results. Studies reveal students who have taken dual enrollment courses have a greater likelihood of enrolling at higher education institutions once they graduate from high school (“Florida’s dual enrollment initiative: How state policy influences community colleges’ service to underrepresented youth,” 2006). Highly encouraging is research demonstrating that Florida students who participate in dual enrollment are retained at greater rates than their counterparts and do as well or better in subsequent college courses once enrolled full time.
Georgia. The Accel Program in Georgia is designed for junior and senior high school students enrolled in accredited public or private schools and allows students to pursue postsecondary study at approved public and private colleges and technical colleges while receiving dual high school and college credit for courses successfully completed. As in Florida, courses are limited to those in the approved course directory. These courses represent an articulation between the Georgia Department of Education and representatives of higher education. Georgia offers dual enrollment programs for Gifted Juniors, Senior Enrichment, and the Advanced Academy of Georgia. The Advanced Academy of Georgia, located on the campus of the University of West Georgia, is a residential, early entrance to college program that targets “carefully selected bright, and motivated high school students who are interested in accelerating their academic careers”(Advanced Academy of Georgia, 2012).
In addition, the “Move on When Ready Act” is another option available. It permits 11th and 12th grade students to leave their assigned high schools and attend postsecondary institutions full-time to earn course credit that will apply towards high school graduation and college credit. It is limited to students in 11th or 12th grade who have been in attendance at a Georgia public high school for two consecutive semesters in the prior year.
North Carolina. More than 200 early college high schools, designed to prepare students historically underrepresented in higher education for college, have opened across the United States since 2002 and serve approximately 50,000 students. While 25 states have at least one early college, North Carolina leads the nation with 71 early colleges. The Early College High School Initiative Student Information System and the National Center for Education Statistics show 86 percent of early college graduates enroll in college immediately after high school. This compares with two-thirds of high school graduates nationwide. In addition, of the 3,000 early college graduates in 2009, 25 percent had earned two full years of college credit or an Associate’s degree.
North Carolina’s early college initiative, which started in 2004, focuses on preparing students for the education needed in a “post-manufacturing knowledge economy”. North Carolina early college students participate in an accelerated program of blended high school and college coursework that provides academic and social supports. The North Carolina New Schools Project, a public-private organization dedicated to the development of innovative high schools, has been instrumental in North Carolina’s having the most early colleges and substantial data regarding best practices within this environment. In addition, SERVE Center at UNC-Greensboro has research to support early colleges are closing the achievement gap for students of color, and the students report more rigorous instruction than a comparison group (Le & Frankfort, March, 2011).