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Broadening the Benefits of Dual Enrollment: Reaching Underachieving and Underrepresented Students with Career-Focused Programs

Community College Research Center, Teachers College, Columbia University

A three-year study tracking outcomes for thousands of students across California shows that career focused dual enrollment programs can provide important benefits for those who are underachieving and underrepresented in higher education.
The James Irvine Foundation funded the Concurrent Courses initiative to advance the goal of its Youth program: to increase the number of low-income youth in California who complete high school on time and attain a postsecondary credential by age 25.

In 2008, The James Irvine Foundation launched the Concurrent Courses initiative to make dual enrollment programs — which allow high school students to take college courses and earn college credit — available to low-income youth who struggle academically or who are from populations historically underrepresented in higher education.

Evaluation of the Concurrent Courses initiative reveals that the participating students — those facing serious barriers to education and advancement — had better high school and college outcomes than comparison students.

This report documents findings that initiative participants were more likely when compared to similar students who did not participate to graduate from high school, enroll in a four-year college and persist in postsecondary education. They also accrued more college credits than comparison students and were less likely to enroll in basic skills courses in college. The report also offers lessons learned through the initiative, including recommendations for effective dual enrollment practice and for public policies that would expand adoption of this beneficial approach to educational achievement.