Discusses how career-focused dual enrollment programs provide important benefits for California students who are underachieving and underrepresented in higher education.

"A three-year study tracking outcomes for thousands of students across California shows that career-focused dual enrollment programs can provide important benefits for those who are underachieving and underrepresented in higher education. Programs of this type, which allow high school students to take college courses and earn college credit, were once offered almost exclusively to high-achieving students seeking greater academic challenge.

The Concurrent Courses initiative was launched in 2008 and began to provide support to eight secondary-postsecondary partnerships in California to develop, enhance and expand dual enrollment programs with a career focus to engage students in relevant learning. Very soon after, new programs were providing structured early college experiences -- college credit courses on the college or high school campus -- to students who had not had them before. At the same time, existing programs expanded their offerings and were purposefully tailoring them to students underrepresented in higher education. In all, 10 colleges and 21 high schools participated in the initiative, which ultimately touched thousands of students. Among student participants, 60 percent were students of color and 40 percent came from non-English speaking homes" (p.4). (Abstractor: Author)

Full publication title: Broadening the Benefits of Dual Enrollment: Reaching Underachieving and Underrepresented Students with Career-Focused Programs

Major Findings & Recommendations

"Student Outcomes Summary Findings include a positive association between Concurrent Courses [(CC)] participation and high school graduation.... CC students and their district peers entered college at similar rates, but that CC students were more likely to matriculate to four-year institutions. Many of the CC dual enrollees appear to be continuing in career-focused pathways upon college entry, a phenomenon that is particularly clear for the sites with a health career pathway. Evidence also suggests that dual enrollees are taking basic skills courses at lower rates than their district peers. CC dual enrollees also persisted in their postsecondary studies at a higher rate, and they accumulated more college credits than the comparison group — and the advantages in credit accrual grew as the students progressed through college" (p.26). "Additional Outcomes: Lessons from the Field: Dual enrollment can be implemented in many different ways. However, if the goal is to target struggling or underrepresented students, careful consideration of the delivery format is crucial. Offering dual enrollment as part of a career pathway provides better integration with high school courses and makes it easier to serve underrepresented students. Building and strengthening the relationships between secondary and postsecondary institutions produces positive changes for the institutions beyond the program" (p.27-29). "Moving Forward: Barriers and Recommendations" [only first- and second-level headings shown] "State Policy: Remove funding penalties. Make dual credit earning consistent and portable. Standardize broad student eligibility." "Institutional Policy and Practice: Continue to make dual enrollment available on both the high school and college campuses. Explore ways to ensure authenticity of the high school-based program format. Provide professional development to dual enrollment instructors. Identify dedicated college staff to smooth logistical challenges. Obtain student consent to share college records" (p.38-41). (Abstractor: Author)