Dual enrollment programs allow high school students to take college courses and earn college credits. Research shows dual enrollment boosts college enrollment and completion rates while saving students time and money. However, access barriers persist, disadvantaging students from low-income families and students of color.
Led by Dave Sobush, Director of Research and Policy, FCAN’s January Hot Topics webinar spotlighted dual enrollment’s benefits and focused on recommendations to improve equitable access for Florida students.
The Benefits of Dual Enrollment Are Clear
Dual enrollment participants are more likely to enroll in college, have higher college GPAs, and graduate faster than non-dual enrollment peers. These benefits yield positive economic returns for students and communities. Ultimately, equitable dual enrollment access allows more students to leverage the program’s benefits, creating a stronger statewide talent pipeline.
Inequities in Access Persist
Despite the benefits, dual enrollment expansion has plateaued recently. The data show enrollment gaps in dual enrollment across racial/ethnic groups. While Hispanic students comprised 35% of high school enrollment in 2020-21, less than 30% of dual enrollment students were Hispanic. Similarly, Black students accounted for 21% of enrollment but only 15% of dual enrollment participants.
Equitable access means dual enrollment participation mirrors overall demographics. Expanding access for Hispanic, Black and other minority students ensures more equitable access to dual enrollment’s benefits. Strategies are needed to promote equity, especially for low-income and minority students.
Incentive Models Can Boost Access
Florida utilizes financial incentives like tuition/fee coverage, summer program funding, and scholarships to expand access. While incentives work, more focus is needed on underserved students. Refining incentive models can optimize equitable access.
Proactive advising on dual enrollment’s academic and financial implications is vital but lacking. Students need early guidance to map dual enrollment choices to their college major and career goals. Best practices in advising are essential.
Partnerships Are Critical
Dual enrollment depends on district/college partnerships. State policies shape these partnerships, but local innovation matters too. Refining policies and agreements can strengthen partnerships and access.
Data Transparency Can Reveal Gaps
Transparent data is limited but necessary to identify access barriers. Disaggregated enrollment data by income and race/ethnicity should be monitored to expose gaps. Data insights can tailor strategies to student needs.
In summary, expanding access hinges on financial incentives, advising models, district/college relations, data transparency, and stakeholder coordination. Policy and program improvements on these fronts can drive more equitable access statewide.
Stay tuned for more key takeaways and recommendations on dual enrollment when FCAN releases its dual enrollment policy brief in the coming weeks.
To find out more about dual enrollment, take advantage of these resources: