Dual Enrollment

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Dual Enrollment

Dual enrollment is one of the fastest growing educational innovations that involve high schools and postsecondary institutions. Yet, little rigorous research exists that compares the outcomes of students who have participated in dual enrollment to the outcomes of non-participants. Researchers from the Postsecondary Center are conducting analyses of student unit-record data from Florida to examine the effects of dual enrollment, as well as tracking student participants in a career-oriented dual enrollment program in California.

States have reported increases in the numbers of students participating in dual enrollment, and a federal government survey found that the vast majority of high schools take part, with upwards of 800,000 high school students participating in the 2002-2003 school year. The presumed benefits of dual enrollment—the availability of rigorous coursework for high school students, college credits that are often low- or no-cost, a smoother transition to college, which should yield better odds of long-term success—address national concerns about academic standards and postsecondary access and success. Responding to the strong interest in dual enrollment, in the last several years the Community College Research Center completed several studies for the U.S. Department of Education that examined dual enrollment literature, state policies, and specific programs. As there is still little definitive research on the effectiveness of dual enrollment, a focus of the Postsecondary Center will be quasi-experimental and other studies of dual enrollment.

Our current work with data from the Florida K-20 Education Data Warehouse examines the effects of participation in dual enrollment on students' initial entry into postsecondary education, such as enrollment in and completion of developmental coursework, first-semester grade point average, and persistence to the second semester. We also examine the long-term effects of participation in dual enrollment, as measured by persistence toward a postsecondary credential. Early findings from this work have been presented at the 2010 meetings of the American Educational Research Association and the Association for Institutional Research. The final report will be available in late summer 2010.

Dual enrollment in career and technical fields is the focus of the Concurrent Courses: Pathways to College and Careers Initiative. This California initiative is being implemented with funding from the James Irvine Foundation, and managed and evaluated by CCRC. Funds have been granted to eight secondary/postsecondary partnerships to develop, enhance, and expand career-oriented dual enrollment opportunities for low-income, academically struggling, and traditionally underrepresented high school students. Additional support is being provided by IES through NCPR to track the outcomes of the initial student participants and to determine the feasibility of conducting a random assignment experimental study in the future. The findings will be available in June 2011.

For further information, please contact Dr. Katherine Hughes at 212-678-3091.



Bridging College and Careers: Using Dual Enrollment to Enhance Career and Technical Education Pathways. By: Olga Rodríguez, Katherine L. Hughes, and Clive Belfield (July 2012).

Using longitudinal administrative data, this study compares outcomes of students who in 2008–09 and 2009–10 enrolled in one or more dual enrollment courses through the Concurrent Courses Initiative (CCI) in California with those of similar students in the same school districts who did not participate in the initiative. Using regression models that control for student characteristics and other factors, the findings indicate that relative to comparison students, CCI dual enrollees had similar GPAs but higher graduation rates in high school. CCI dual enrollees entered college at similar rates to the comparison group, but entered four-year institutions and persisted in college at higher rates. Notably, CCI dual enrollees accumulated more college credits than the comparison group, and this difference in credit accumulation grew over time. Download the PDF | Download the Brief Version

High School Dual Enrollment Programs: Are We Fast-Tracking Students Too Fast? (An NCPR Working Paper). By: Cecilia Speroni (December 2011).

Despite the popularity of dual enrollment (DE) as a strategy for preparing high school students for college, little rigorous evidence exists on its effectiveness. This paper uses a regression discontinuity design to gauge the causal effect of DE on rates of high school graduation, college enrollment, and college completion among students who are on the margin of eligibility for DE participation. While DE courses in general are found to have no significant effects, participation in a DE algebra course is found to have significant positive effects on rates of college enrollment and completion. Download the PDF | Download the Brief Version

Determinants of Students' Success: The Role of Advanced Placement and Dual Enrollment Programs (An NCPR Working Paper). By: Cecilia Speroni (November 2011).

Using data from two cohorts of all high school students in Florida and controlling for schools' and students' characteristics (including prior achievement), this study examines the relative power of AP and DE in predicting students' college access and success. The study finds that both AP and DE are strongly associated with positive outcomes, but the enrollment outcomes are not the same for both programs. DE students are more likely than AP students to go to college after high school, but they are less likely to first enroll in a four-year college. Despite this difference in initial enrollment, the difference between DE and AP in terms of bachelor's degree attainment is much smaller and not statistically significant for some model specifications. In addition, the effect of DE is driven by courses taken at the local community college campus; there is no effect for DE courses taken at the high school. Download the PDF

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