Dual enrollment, which enables students to take credit-bearing college coursework while simultaneously taking high school classes, has historically been used as an acceleration strategy for high-achieving students—too often only those from middle- or higher-income backgrounds. However, the positive effects of these programs can be even more pronounced for students of color and students from low-income families.
- Courses meet the same level of rigor as those taught to traditional college students,
- Instructors meet the same expectations as instructors of similar college courses and receive appropriate support and evaluation,
- School districts and higher education institutions publicly report on student participation and outcomes, and
- Programs undergo evaluation based on available data.
In spite of the evidence of dual enrollment’s positive effects, participation by students of color and students from low-income backgrounds remains low. The Education Trust surmises three key barriers to increasing participation:
- Bias and discrimination from program gatekeepers,
- Costs associated with participating in a program, and
- A lack of access to quality course programming.
Additionally, a new brief published by Ed Trust and College in High School Alliance highlights key equity issues, and provides suggestions for how ESSA can be leveraged to advance dual enrollment programming for underserved students. It concludes by providing five key questions advocates should be asking.
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