Dual Enrollment Programs Improve College and Career Readiness for Students

Dual Enrollment is an Increasingly Popular Model of Collaboration Between K–12 and Postsecondary Education Institutions

With the assistance of national education organizations, ACT is working to increase the number of eligible high school students in dual enrollment programs across the nation.

On November 13, ACT organized dual enrollment and college and career readiness discussions in Washington, DC between the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) and AASA, the School Superintendents Association. The meeting was part of an ongoing dialogue about successful dual enrollment programs, public policy, funding, credit transferability, and building a culture of college aspiration at high schools.

As a research driven organization, ACT is studying how dual enrollment programs affect college readiness. Research, published in Dual Credit/Dual Enrollment Coursework, shows that high school graduates who enter college with credits from dual enrollment are more likely to succeed in college, including completing a bachelor’s degree in less time, than are students who enter college without such credits. Therefore, those who are eligible for these courses should be encouraged to enroll. Findings from The Condition of College and Career Readiness 2017 report suggest that more students may be prepared for dual enrollment programs. According to the report, 41 percent of students who took the ACT were ready for college-level math and 37 percent were ready for college-level science. Overall, 27 percent were ready in all four subject areas (English, math, reading, and science).

Participation in dual enrollment programs exposes students to more rigorous courses, college-level instruction, and the ability to explore programs with the potential to strengthen their familiarity with crucial determinants of both college and workplace success. “I think it is absolutely important for students to feel ready for the college experience, to have it while in high school, and to ensure the fact that they are able to handle the curriculum as they move forward in their educational pipeline,” said Melinda Gandara, faculty at Santa Barbara City College.

The Wallace State Community College Early College dual enrollment program, started 10 years ago, provides 75 students per year with college and high school course instruction. The program emphasizes readiness for college, work, and life, and its specific priorities include increasing college going, emphasizing workforce development, and accelerating completion.

“[W]e established a public–private partnership with the local Chamber of Commerce...They sponsor an annual career fair with all area high schools; in addition to that, they teach a Keeping It Real financial literacy program with business and industry partners. And we also provide paid summer internships for academic teachers in high schools to spend time in local industry [to gain an] understanding [of] the kinds of jobs that are available to students in our community.” Vicki Karolewics, President, Wallace State Community College.

ACT continues to work with federal and state policymakers and education organizations to ensure that all eligible students have the opportunity, at as little cost to them as possible, to earn college credit from qualified instructors in high-quality dual enrollment programs. For more information, read the ACT dual enrollment policy brief