Increasing Access to College Preparatory Courses in Rural Communities through Dual Enrollment

REL Appalachia at CNA Analysis & Solutions hosted a Webinar on September 24, 2012, entitled Increasing Access to College Preparatory Courses in Rural Communities through Dual Enrollment. The Webinar addressed the latest research pertaining to dual enrollment programs and highlighted how these programs are implemented at a district and state level.

Dr. Melinda Mechur Karp, Senior Research Associate at Teachers College, Columbia University, discussed the different definitions that surround dual enrollment. She emphasized that dual enrollment referred to a program in which students enroll simultaneously in high school and college courses, thereby generating college transcripts that follow those students through their future academic pursuits. In addition, Dr. Karp discussed why dual enrollment programs may vary by different features, namely funding, student eligibility, location, and instructors. For example, the distance between high-school and college campuses and the size of the student populations can be challenging, particularly in rural communities. However, she emphasized that these challenges could be positive because rural communities may be more used to utilizing online courses and the small size of the schools may allow for more tailored courses.

Dr. Melanie Stanley, Director of Academies at Southside Virginia Community College (SVCC) discussed how SVCC and Halifax County Public Schools created a dual enrollment program titled Dual Enrollment Program with Southside Virginia Community College in 1987 with a focus on rural, poor students. The Superintendent of Halifax County Public Schools and the President of SVCC worked together to create the program. Dr. Stanley emphasized that such a partnership is vital to the success of any dual enrollment program. The program created a high school campus model and invested in the education of the high school instructors, thereby allowing them to become adjunct faculty members of the community college system and teach college credit-bearing courses. This arrangement allows the salaries of the instructors to offset the cost of tuition so the college credits are provided free of charge to students. The program has grown to include additional schools participating and an additional community college offering courses. More recently, the program has focused on career and technical education (CTE) and industry certification. As a result, 74 seniors received an associate’s degree in 2012 compared to 23 degrees awarded in 2006. Overall, 63% of all students in 2012 in Halifax Country Public Schools participated in a dual enrollment course with 91% of graduating seniors having a college transcript. Halifax County now leads within the state of Virginia for the number of industry certifications awarded.

Dr. Linda Wallinger, Assistant Superintendent for Instruction, Virginia Department of Education, followed Dr. Stanley’s presentation with a discussion of the larger Virginia plan for dual enrollment. First signed in 2005, the collaborative agreement between Virginia public schools and the state’s community colleges provides a wider range of options for high schools students in a variety of subject areas. This collaboration provides a framework that outlines three options for dual enrollments arrangements at the local level. High school students may enroll in:

  1. 1. Regularly scheduled college-credit courses at the community college;
  2. 2. Specially scheduled college-credit courses at the high school; or 
  3. 3. Specially scheduled college-credit courses at the community college.

Students who participate in dual enrollment programs receive credit for both high school and college upon successful completion of the courses. All faculty must be selected and employed by the community college and public schools may employ part-time community college faculty as instructors. Compensation is negotiated between the public school and the community college. Dr. Wallinger noted that neither public schools nor community colleges are penalized for participating in the program, i.e., public schools still receive average daily membership (ADM) credit and community colleges receive full-time equivalent (FTE) credit for participating students.

A recording of the Webinar may be viewed here.

Laura Yerhot is a research associate at the American Institutes for Research and a member of the National High School Center’s Early Warning System Team.

Note: This blog post was originally authored under the auspices of the National High School Center at the American Institutes for Research (AIR). The National High School Center’s blog, High School Matters, which ran until March 2013, provided an objective perspective on the latest research, issues, and events that affected high school improvement. The CCRS Center plans to continue relevant work originally developed under the National High School Center grant. National High School Center blog posts that pertain to CCRS Center issues are included on this website as a resource to our stakeholders.


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