In the several studies culled by the Community College Research Center at Columbia University Teachers College, dual enrollment opportunities provided to K12 students repeatedly proved to help boost college outcomes. Simply put, they help students complete high school, enroll in college and complete their degree successfully.
However, research from the CCRC shows that high schools and colleges typically implement dual enrollment with a “laissez-faire” approach, meaning that students arbitrarily choose classes without regard to their plans and interests regarding academics or careers. The lack of intention in these programs perpetuates a trend that completely counteracts the intent of dual enrollment.
CCRC discovered that dual enrollment outcomes among students who are learning English, have disabilities or are of American Indian, Black, Hispanic, multiracial, and Pacific Islander descent are far below that of native, White English speakers.
As a result, the independent research organization has created the Dual Enrollment Equity Pathways (DEEP) program to help K12 and higher education work together to help those who would benefit the most from dual enrollment actually realize success in the program. DEEP gained its insight from observing the practices of nine community college–high school partnerships in California, Florida and Texas that had achieved equitable access and early college outcomes for Black and Latinx students through their dual enrollment programs.
“Effective implementation of DEEP practices requires significant changes on the part of both colleges and high schools in how they reach out to students and families, align curricula and pedagogy and teach and advise students,” the report’s researchers wrote.
1. Outreach to underserved students and schools
K12 districts and colleges that experienced strong dual enrollment results from their low-income students and those of color began to market these courses to students and their parents as early as middle school. Such forward thinking then helped revamp some elementary schools’ curricula in assisting students to prepare for what comes in high school.
2. Alignment to college degrees and careers in fields of interest
Students without long-term vision usually choose dual enrollment classes arbitrarily without knowing whether they will transfer successfully toward a bachelor’s program they are interested in. Like how community colleges “backward map” their programs to ensure they lead toward good job opportunities or a bachelor’s program, colleges should also map their programs for the dual enrollment level. This way, community college courses can help K12 students better understand what kind of college programs or careers might also interest them.
3. Early career and academic exploration, advising and planning
K12 districts and colleges adopting the DEEP framework need to ensure they are proactive in providing K12 students with proper advising that extends beyond just getting them to the high school finish line.
“High school students who receive help from an adult in developing an education or career plan are more likely to submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and apply to and enroll in college,” the researchers wrote.
4. High-quality college instruction and academic support.
Colleges must engage with K12 schools to share their most cutting-edge, research-backed teaching methods so that students interested in postsecondary education are exposed to more rigorous learning models. One such example is the flipped classroom, wherein lectures are delivered online and class time is used for instruction, lab work and class projects.