College in high school programs such as dual enrollment, concurrent enrollment, and early college high school are popular and effective tools to improve college access and success. In 2019 alone, 18 governors discussed earning college credit prior to high school graduation in their state budget highlights, and new laws passed in more than 16 states addressing some aspect of these programs. But equitable access to these programs has remained a challenge. Of the nearly two million students participating in college in high school programs, far too few are students of color or students from low-income families.
According to 2019 NCES data, students who were White, Asian, and whose parents already had a college education were much more likely to participate in dual enrollment than their peers. That is despite research indicating that college in high school programs can be particularly effective for low income and underrepresented students in higher education.
To help close those gaps, the College in High School Alliance (CHSA) is releasing two new reports:
Unlocking Potential: A State Policy Roadmap for Equity and Quality in College in High School Programs
CHSA and the Level Up coalition have published Unlocking Potential: A State Policy Roadmap for Equity and Quality in College in High School Programs. This resource can serve as a roadmap for states that want to design policy that drives meaningful change in access, equity, and quality for college in high school programs.
To help states build a policy framework for college in high school programs that will close equity gaps and promote quality, Unlocking Potentialdetails six critical components and provides policy recommendations for each: (1) equity goal and public reporting, (2) program integrity and credit transfer, (3) finance, (4) course access and availability, (5) instructor capacity, and (6) navigational supports. The report also highlights examples from 28 states that have taken steps to build strong state policies.
“Whether it is Georgia’s efforts to make dual enrollment free for all students, Minnesota’s new programs to support teachers in getting the right credentials to teach dual enrollment, or Washington’s disaggregated data reporting of college in high school participation, states have been making strides in creating strong policy to support equity and quality in their college in high school programs,” said Lexi Barrett, Associate Vice President at JFF. “But there is more work to be done to fully realize the promise of college in high school for all students, and we believe Unlocking Potential will provide state policymakers with a roadmap for how to get there.”
“When students earn postsecondary credit while in high school, they are much more likely to graduate, transition to postsecondary, and attain credential with labor market value. Unfortunately, far too of few students of color and those from low-income families have the opportunity to engage in these programs. That must change” said Ryan Reyna, Senior Director at Education Strategy Group. “Every state has work to do to expand high-quality options for students. We stand ready to help policymakers and practitioners advance this critical work.”
Funding for Equity: Designing State Dual Enrollment Funding Models to Close Equity Gaps
In addition, CHSA is releasing a report developed by Jennifer Zinth, a national expert on state policy governing college in high school programs. Funding for Equity: Designing State Dual Enrollment Funding Models to Close Equity Gaps is a deep dive on funding models for these programs, breaking down how states are currently funding them, and providing states with questions and answers about how to best design their funding systems to close equity gaps. The report also includes a number of lessons learned and best practices from the most promising dual enrollment funding models currently deployed in states.
“The National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships (NACEP) is excited to help bring this much-needed resource to the field to support states as they look to expand and invest in these programs that transform student lives,” said Amy Williams, Executive Director of the NACEP. “This resource empowers policymakers in every state, whether it has a well-established funding system for dual enrollment in need of fine-tuning to ensure equity is front and center, or no current statewide program to fund dual enrollment.”
"State policy leaders have asked me countless times to point them to the 'best' dual enrollment funding model their state could adopt” said Jennifer Zinth, lead of Zinth Consulting, LLC. "I truly hope that state policymakers and agency staff nationwide can use Funding for Equity to identify a sustainable funding approach that addresses their equity needs and at the same time is a win-win for state and local K-12 and postsecondary stakeholders."
College in high school programs have significant promise, but that promise can only be realized when equity gaps are eliminated and the programs become available to all students who can benefit from them. We hope that policymakers will find value, not only in CCRC’s examination of existing gaps, but also in new resources by CHSA designed to help policymakers close them.
The College in High School Alliance (CHSA) is a coalition of leading national and state organizations that works towards a future in which every state, and the federal government, has a policy framework that ensures that student access, participation and success in college in high school programs accurately reflects the geographic, demographic, and economic make-up of the nation’s high school students.
Level Up is a coalition, organized by the Education Strategy Group, of local, state and national K-12 and higher education partners committed to measurably increasing the numbers of American high school students — particularly students of color, those from low-income families, and whose parents did not attend college — who are prepared for and successfully complete postsecondary education and training programs.