Making Equity Intentional: The Role of State Policy in Removing Barriers for Underserved Students to Access Dual Enrollment Opportunities

By Cristen Moore

With the heightened need to create a more educated workforce, states are using various approaches to improve postsecondary attainment rates, including policies that foster students’ transition from high school to college. Dual enrollment is perhaps the most common or well known of these transition-focused policies.Dual enrollment and/or concurrent enrollment programs afford high school students the opportunity to take college-level courses and earn college and high school credit simultaneously.

Such programs expose students to the academic rigor of postsecondary education and, when classes are held on a college campus, to its social demands. Credits earned are then transferable to higher education institutions and apply toward the completion of a degree and/or attainment of an educational credential.

Dual enrollment continues to grow in prevalence. As of 2017, more than half of the states mentioned dual enrollment in their state plans under the Every Student Succeeds Act.ii The National Center for Education Statistics has estimated that the number of students in dual enrollment increased by 67 percent from 2002 to 2010, with an upward trend continuing since then. This trend is likely to continue as dual enrollment program effectiveness increases. Unfortunately, however, dual enrollment program access and completion are not equitable among different populations. With interest in dual enrollment expanding, a closer look at the development and implementation of these policies nationwide is warranted with a keen eye to equity.

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