To the Editor:
The recent article “Are Dual-Enrollment Programs Being Oversold?” (Sept. 7, 2016) highlights the difficulties of transferring credits earned in high school dual-enrollment programs to a student’s chosen college destination. But it misses the bigger point of whether those credits should transfer.
Researcher David Jenkins aptly points out that “dual enrollment is like the Wild West” when it comes to the issue of credit transfer. At the heart of the matter is that without any external benchmark to measure and ensure quality, university officials have no way to gauge the rigor of a given dual-enrollment course or the extent to which participating students have mastered the course content.
Policies that grant credit for college-level coursework must be based on research results that demonstrate meaningful student outcomes. That research should include measurable results of how students who have completed dual-enrollment programs perform in subsequent college courses and the impact of the program on these students’ college persistence and graduation.
In contrast, the Advanced Placement framework and the AP exams not only provide external validation of teaching and learning in the classroom, but also a standard means ofcomparison between AP courses nationwide, so that colleges and universities can gauge the extent to which participating students have mastered the necessary course content and skills. Moreover, research indicates that students enrolled in AP programs are better prepared for college-level work than their non-AP peers and show higher rates of college persistence and graduation.
There are many paths to college preparation and success that provide valuable opportunities for students to experience academic rigor in high school. However, without an external measure of the quality of student learning, we risk doing a disservice to students of college-credit programs by granting them credit when they may not have met the bar of content mastery.
Chief Executive Officer
National Math + Science Initiative
A version of this article appeared in the October 05, 2016 edition of Education Week as The Importance of Gauging Rigor To Demonstrate Meaningful Results