Jobs for the Future has recently completed a study on the effectiveness of dual enrollment as a strategy to improve postsecondary outcomes in Texas. The sample consisted of 32,908 Texas students from the high school graduating class of 2004. Half of the sample completed at least one college course while in high school (treatment group), while an equal number of academically and demographically similar students did not participate in a dual enrollment course. The author’s methodology is advanced as it utilizes a propensity score matching model.
High school students who had completed a college course before graduation were nearly 50 percent more likely to earn a college degree from a Texas college within six years than students who had not participated in dual enrollment.
Overall, students who completed college courses through dual enrollment were significantly more likely to attend college, persist in college, and complete an Associate’s degree or higher within six years.
Here’s a table of odds ratios indicating the impact of dual enrollment on enrollment, persistence and degree completion.
These findings held for all racial groups as well as for students from low-incomes families. In fact, dual enrollees from low income families were particularly more likely to attend a four-year college in Texas after high school.
The authors identify the following implications of their study and other rigorous research on dual enrollment:
- Encouraging the dual enrollment of high school students in college courses is a way to enhance their readiness for college, including students from low-income groups and other groups underrepresented in college.
- More preparation and support for students and the use of accelerated learning strategies, such as early college schools, are needed to ensure that low-income and underrepresented students can benefit fully from dual enrollment.
- More research on dual enrollment would enable policymakers to make better strategic use of resources by determining which types of college courses and pathways have the strongest positive association with college-going outcomes.
Struhl, Ben and Vargas, Joel. (2012). Taking College Courses in High School: A Strategy for College Readiness. Washington, D.C.: Jobs for the Future.
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