Pathways to Opportunity: Expanding and Aligning College and Career Readiness Programs in Pennsylvania

In May 2020, the University of Pittsburgh Institute of Politics Workforce Development Policy Committee released a report entitled “Prepared for the Future: Policy recommendations to increase access for students to Pennsylvania’s dual enrollment, early college high school, and pre-apprenticeship programs.” The report, the product of 18 months of deliberation among the committee members, offers an in-depth look into the existing systems surrounding dual enrollment and pre-apprenticeships in Pennsylvania. While Prepared for the Future reveals significant upward momentum around these programs within individual school districts, postsecondary institutions, and other businesses and community organizations, it also reveals the lack of a statewide policy structure to support these innovative programs.

The lack of a statewide structure means that programs are primarily available to and currently accessed by students who seek out the opportunity in schools that have made such programming a priority. The Prepared for the Future report illustrates how this lack of structure contributes to the disparities in access for students; while data on dual enrollment programs are limited and fragmented in Pennsylvania, trends in participation over the last decade show a widening racial gap, with a decline in real numbers of Black students participating. During the same time period, participation by economically-disadvantaged students has also remained stagnant, while participation among students who are not economically disadvantaged increased.

Faced with these challenges and opportunities, the IOP Workforce Development Policy Committee created a task force to examine current best practices in dual enrollment and pre-apprenticeship programs with the intent on providing guidance for equitable statewide expansion of these programs.

The recommendations include:

  • Launch a State-Supported Task Force to Develop Principles for Pennsylvania’s Dual Enrollment System
  • Continue to Expand Public Reporting of Dual Enrollment Data
  • Create a Formal Dual Enrollment Advisory Council to Provide Input on Developing Statewide Policy & Appoint Staff at PDE To Manage It
  • Encourage NACEP Accreditation for Concurrent Enrollment Programs
  • Establish a Model Partnership Agreement for PA Dual Enrollment Programs
  • Create a Dual Enrollment Scholarship
  • Require School Districts to Inform Students Annually About Advanced Coursework Opportunities in Their School
  • Survey Pennsylvania High Schools to Understand Instructor Capacity Issues
  • Create a Statewide Landing Page for Interested Dual Enrollment Students and Families
  • Develop Explainer Resources for School Counselors to Improve Dual Enrollment Awareness

The recommendations included in this report to advance Pennsylvania’s policies supporting dual enrollment are informed by the CHSA's Unlocking Potential: A State Policy Roadmap for Equity and Quality in College in High School Programs. IOP partnered with CHSA to complete this report.

Access the paper

Pathways to Opportunity: Expanding and Aligning College and Career Readiness Programs in Pennsylvania