College & Workforce Readiness

Study Finds Gender, Race, Income Gaps in Dual-Enrollment Programs

By Catherine Gewertz — March 10, 2017 1 min read
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A new study of dual-enrollment programs finds that high-achieving white girls from financially secure homes are more likely to enroll in those college-credit programs than minority, male, or low-income students.

The study focused on community college dual-enrollment programs in Oregon, which has a particularly large share of its students—29 percent in the graduating class of 2013—participating in programs that enable high school students to earn simultaneous high school and college credit. The findings prompted the study’s authors to urge greater attention to diversifying the programs.

“Policymakers may want to shift their focus from expanding the number of participating schools and districts to increasing equitable student access within schools that offer these programs,” the paper said.

With their potential to enrich students’ learning, and, in some cases, save them time or money in college, dual-enrollment programs have been hailed as a powerful way for students—especially underrepresented students—to get ahead. The study’s findings raise a question about whether dual-enrollment programs are reaching enough of the students who could benefit from them the most.

Jennell Ives, a specialist in the state’s department of education, noted in a release issued with the study that Oregon’s Higher Education Coordinating Commission recently approved two additional models that would allow high school students to earn college credit. The state is also working with regional groups that are trying to expand access to dual-enrollment programs for underrepresented students.

The study, by the Regional Educational Laboratory at Education Northwest for the federal Institute of Education Sciences, examined dual-enrollment participation between 2005-06 and 2012-13.

A version of this news article first appeared in the High School & Beyond blog.