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Getting a Jump on College: How to Strengthen the Benefits of Dual Enrollment and Other College Acceleration Strategies for Low-Income and Minority High School Students

September 2018–August 2020

CCRC and the Aspen Institute’s College Excellence Program are partnering with state higher education agencies in Florida and Washington to improve the outcomes of college acceleration strategies for underrepresented high school students, particularly students of color and those from low-income families.

This research project is designed to better understand the drivers that can increase equitable access to and success in dual enrollment, early college high schools, Advanced Placement (AP), and International Baccalaureate (IB). The work has three phases:

  1. Researchers will analyze data from a U.S. Department of Education national high school census to understand patterns of participation in college acceleration by state and county.
  2. Researchers will analyze student unit record data from the two states to understand which students participate in which acceleration strategies and the extent to which their participation helps them succeed in college after high school.
  3. Researchers will identify high school–college partnerships where traditionally underrepresented students are especially well served and document the practices that lead to their success.

The research will produce practitioner-oriented briefs on access by underrepresented students to different college acceleration strategies. The briefs will also cover the effects of particular strategies on college-level math performance; post–high school college entry and completion; and excess credits and time-to-degree among students who earn an associate or bachelor’s degree. This information will be of high value to practitioners and policymakers interested in which of the varied strategies is most likely to improve student outcomes for underrepresented students.

The research will also identify institutional structures, policies, and practices that increase successful college-going and college completion for underrepresented students who take dual enrollment courses. In this study, CCRC and Aspen will use student and institutional data from Florida and Washington State to identify partnerships of high schools and community colleges that achieve exceptional college outcomes with underrepresented students. Based on field research at a sample of such partnerships, CCRC and Aspen will produce a “dual enrollment playbook” for practitioners on the practices of high schools and community colleges that together are especially effective in helping underrepresented students enroll and succeed in college.

This project is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.