Dual Enrollment: The Role of Policy in Promoting Quality Pathways to Postsecondary Success

On February 13, 2014, the College and Career Readiness and Success Center and the American Youth Policy Forum (AYPF) co-hosted the final installment of a three-part Webinar series on accelerated learning, “Dual Enrollment: The Role of Policy in Promoting Quality Pathways to Postsecondary Success.” The Webinar highlighted national trends, model policy components, and state experiences related to dual enrollment and featured presentations by Jennifer Dounay Zinth, Senior Policy Analyst and Co-Director of the Information Clearinghouse at the Education Commission of the States (ECS); Adam Lowe, Executive Director of the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships (NACEP); John Fischer, Deputy Commissioner for the Vermont Agency of Education; and Joyce Judy, President of the Community College of Vermont (CCV).

Zinth provided an overview of ECS, discussed the work they do on dual enrollment with state-level education leaders, provided an overview of the ECS database on dual enrollment which was updated in December 2013, and identified four dual enrollment trends from 2008 to 2013:

  • Notification. Only 20 states have a statewide policy, which requires all students and/or their parents to be notified of the availability of dual enrollment programs.
  • Quality. Measures of instructor/course quality vary across states.
  • Reporting. Program data collection improved by 67% from 2008-2013 when the number of states that integrate reporting requirements in state policy increased from 18 to 30 states. However, there is still a huge variation across states in what data must be reported.
  • Evaluation. The number of states with evaluation elements built into their dual enrollment policies doubled from 2008 to 2013 from 13 to 26 states. Evaluation measures also vary across states.

Zinth then outlined ECS’ recent brief, “Increasing Student Access and Success in Dual Enrollment Programs: 13 Model State-Level Policy Components,” and reviewed the model policy components under four categories: access, finance, ensuring course quality, and transferability of courses.

Lowe focused his presentation on the role NACEP has played in the development of state and institutional policies that address the quality of concurrent enrollment coursework. Concurrent enrollment programs are a subset of dual enrollment programs where certified high school instructors teach the college courses in their high school classrooms. NACEP shares best practices, supports research efforts, and engages in advocacy with media, state agencies, and the federal government. In addition to these efforts, NACEP assists in the accreditation of concurrent enrollment programs (CEP) offered by institutions of higher education. When accrediting a high quality concurrent enrollment program NACEP looks for:

  • The rigor for high school and on campus courses is the same.
  • The expectations and standards of achievement for CEP students and on campus students are the same.
  • The requirements for CEP instructors and on campus adjunct instructors are the same, with support for CEP instructors in their discipline.
  • Oversight of the CEP program ensures the academic integrity of its courses, regardless of where they are taught and by whom.

Fischer and Judy provided a state perspective on the topic and shared Vermont’s experience with dual enrollment. Fischer shared that Vermont has one of the highest high school graduation rates in the country with approximately 60 percent of its high school students enrolling in college within 16 months of their graduation; however, this neither meets the state’s goal of an 80 percent enrollment rate nor address the problem of high remediation rates. A state collaborative across New England state lines has engaged executive branch staff, legislators, state board members, superintendents, principals, teachers, business leaders, and higher education officials to address the policy environment. From this partnership, Act 77 Flexible Pathways of 2013 has been passed, Education Quality Standards have been updated, and a Community Engagement and Messaging strategy is under development.

Judy provided an overview of CCV and explained why dual enrollment is important in Vermont:

  • Economic development. By 2020 the majority of Vermont jobs will require postsecondary training, and 19 of the 24 fastest growing occupations will as well.
  • Demographics. Dual enrollment in Vermont can increase the college-going rate, shrink the age gap, improve college readiness, reduce college debt, and shorten the time to graduation.


Judy also shared some of the strategies CCV has used to address dual enrollment implementation challenges. One challenge, access for students, can be made easier through collaboration with K-12 schools and guidance counselors, as well as offering courses like Introduction to College Studies, a non-credit course that equip students with the skills to be successful in college courses. Another issue is maintaining courses with quality and rigor that meet high standards. To address this, CCV manages all concurrent courses by hiring faculty, offering professional development, providing standard course objectives, and evaluating faculty and course outcomes. Resource availability can be another challenge. By building relationships with philanthropic partners, seeking out grants, and collaborating with community partners and organizations CCV has been able to help more students access in dual enrollment.

To access the archive of the Webinar click here.

Garet Fryar is a policy research assistant at the American Youth Policy Forum.

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