To provide rigorous, supportive and career-focused dual enrollment opportunities that help low-income youth in California who are struggling academically and underrepresented in higher education to complete high school and successfully transition to college.
The Concurrent Courses initiative (2008-2011) was created to demonstrate the feasibility of using dual enrollment programs to enhance college and career pathways for low-income youth who are struggling academically or who are historically underrepresented in higher education. The Foundation invested $4.75 million in the initiative, providing funding and technical assistance to support partnerships between high schools and community colleges. Approximately 3,000 students participated in eight dual enrollment programs across the state. The Concurrent Courses initiative was managed by the Community College Research Center (CCRC) at Teachers College, Columbia University.
- Arthur A. Benjamin Health Professions High School, Sacramento, in partnership with Sacramento City College
- City College of San Francisco, San Francisco, in partnership with San Francisco Unified School District
- Long Beach Unified School District, Long Beach, in partnership with Long Beach City College and California State University Long Beach
- Los Angeles City College, Los Angeles, in partnership with Hollywood Senior High School, Downtown Business Magnets High School and Miguel Contreras Learning Complex
- North Orange County Regional Occupational Program, Anaheim, in partnership with Anaheim Union High School District, Cypress College and Fullerton College
- Santa Barbara City College, Santa Barbara, in partnership with Santa Barbara High School District, Carpinteria High School District and South Coast Regional Occupational Program
- Shasta Union High School District, Shasta, in partnership with Anderson Union High School District, Shasta College and Shasta-Trinity Regional Occupational Program
- Tulare Joint Union High School District, Tulare, in partnership with College of the Sequoias
The evaluation for Concurrent Courses focused on program implementation and student outcomes. Formative evaluation of program implementation helped participating high schools and community colleges improve their dual enrollment pathways so that they include rigorous academics, challenging technical education and strong student support. By gathering and analyzing data on student outcomes, the evaluation was also designed to show whether career-focused dual enrollment can improve transitions into college and career.
2008 – 2011
This evaluation used multiple methods (e.g., site visits, interviews and site reports) to gather data about the implementation of dual enrollment pathways for each partnership, including program costs. Student focus groups and surveys provided information about motivations for participating in dual enrollment programs and experience with supportive services. CCRC collected data on student outcomes through collaboration with the Cal-PASS student data system.
Overall, evaluation of the initiative found that those who participated had better academic outcomes, compared with other students in the same districts. Participants were, on average:
- More likely to graduate from high school
- More likely to transition to a four-year college (rather than a two-year college)
- Less likely to take basic skills courses in college
- More likely to persist in postsecondary education
- Accumulating more college credits than comparison students
Lessons for Dual Enrollment Practitioners
Programs in the initiative varied, offering valuable lessons in their differences. Evaluators offer the following insights for educators and administrators considering or engaged in their own career focused dual enrollment programs.
Essentials for Program Success
- Programs require a strong connection and integration between high schools and postsecondary institutions.
- Embedding dual enrollment opportunities within career-focused small learning communities encourages student participation by giving coursework focus and relevance.
- A dual enrollment class should be perceived by students as an authentic college experience where they can “try on” the college student role and view themselves as capable of doing college work.
The full report and related two-page briefs offer additional policy recommendations and lessons for program format.
Prof. Thomas Bailey
Community College Research Center
Teachers College, Columbia University