Supporters of dual- and concurrent-enrollment programs gathered in Washington this week to discuss the role that federal policy can play in expanding access to college courses for high school students. While Congressional representatives are interested, it’s at the state level where lawmakers have been most active on these issues.
The National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships, which accredits dual enrollment (where students attend a course on a college campus) and concurrent programs (where approved high school instructors teach college courses in their building), held its Washington policy seminar this week. NACEP members were updated on efforts to include their programs in any reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and new proposals to get Pell Grant funding for early-college high school students.
Adam Lowe, executive director of the Chapel Hill, N.C.-based organization, said support for their models is growing in both political parties, but with little chance of Congress creating new programs, the focus is on getting dual enrollment included in existing programs. At its seminar last year, members advocated for similar issues on the Hill, but it is states that are responding.
Today, on the other side of the country in Washington state, Gov. Jay Inslee signed legislation to strengthen the state’s College in High School program, where students take college-level classes in their high school, and the Running Start Program, which allows students to enroll in courses at nearby college campuses. The law sets up a consistent framework for how districts and colleges cover the costs of the programs. It also lets 10th graders participate in the high school-based program, rather than just upperclassmen, and provides extra money for books and transportation to students who take courses off campus.
The legislation was recommended by the Washington Student Achievement Council, a state agency started three years ago, that has brought together representatives from all education sectors (K-12, community colleges, private colleges, and public universities) to come up with strategies to improve college completion, according to Noreen Light, associate director of academic affairs and policy. The new law is aimed at ensuring dual and concurrent enrollment programs are accessible to all students, including those in rural areas and students from disadvantaged backgrounds. The law goes into effect in late July.
As more families eager to save money on college fuel demand for these programs, states are taking steps to ensure access and consistency. (See Cost, Quality on Radar as Dual Enrollment Rises).
Nationwide, NACEP reports that 10 percent of high school students took college courses from postsecondary institutions in 2010-11. Dual-enrollment programs grew 7 percent annually between 2002-03 and 2010-11.
A version of this news article first appeared in the College Bound blog.