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Rethinking Dual Enrollment to Reach More Students

By Jennifer Zinth & Elisabeth A. Barnett
Rethinking Dual Enrollment to Reach More Students

Dual enrollment students are more likely to finish high school, matriculate in a postsecondary institution, and experience greater postsecondary success. Consequently, states are increasingly viewing dual enrollment as a strategy to promote postsecondary attainment and workforce readiness and are taking steps to broaden student access to dual enrollment coursework. Yet state-set eligibility requirements often limit dual enrollment access to the most academically advanced students, who are likely to pursue college after high school regardless. In many states, middle-achieving students cannot participate in dual enrollment courses, and in other states, their options are limited.

Nonetheless, there may be ways to provide dual enrollment and other experiences that put students on the road to college without running afoul of state and local eligibility requirements. Strategies may include ensuring access to options with lower eligibility expectations or requesting exemptions from current requirements in order to try out alternative eligibility criteria. This brief published by Education Commission of the States proposes state approaches to systematically:

  • Broaden dual enrollment access to middle-achieving students, including students who are college-ready but uncertain about their post–high school plans, as well as students who are not college-ready but would succeed in a dual enrollment course with some support.
  • Provide pre-collegiate experiences to middle- and lower-achieving high school students that will either prepare them for dual enrollment by the final semester of their senior year or help them set their sights on enrolling in college after high school graduation.

A portion of this brief was adapted for publication in Learning Abstracts, vol. 21, no. 7.