Ohio Gov. John Kasich wants students in his state to pursue a college education. That’s why he’s encouraging more of them to get started early — while they’re still in high school.
Dual-enrollment arrangements between local high schools and community colleges have been around for a while. But as a 2013 audit by the Ohio Board of Regents points out, not all institutions are using the programs effectively.
The governor’s office reports that 30,000 Ohio public high school students participated in dual-enrollment programs in 2013. That sounds good — until you realize that more than 500,000 students were eligible.
Though current Ohio law requires high schools to offer students at least one dual-enrollment option, the board of regents’ report suggests that this requirement has done little to increase participation in the programs.
Committed to finding options that are more affordable for students, Kasich has made higher education reform central to his ongoing reelection campaign. And dual enrollment, which allows students to earn college credits before they start paying full tuition, is a top priority.
A story on Cleveland.com describes a statewide effort that would include creating better pathways from high school to college and funding community colleges entirely on student success and degree completion.
So what makes for a more effective dual-enrollment program? The 2013 board of regents’ report breaks down Ohio’s existing effort, called College Credit Plus, and offers several recommendations for ensuring its success. Might some of these ideas work for programs in your state?
1. Provide a clear definition. How does the program differ from other higher education and high school programs? How will it be funded? What courses or program offerings will be included?
2. Get more students involved. Increase participation among all students. Recommendations at a glance: Require all public schools to participate in the program. Require all nonpublic schools in the program to follow the same rules and guidelines that public schools do. Let each participating higher education institution determine its own admittance requirements, in accordance with its own standards, provided all available relevant student data is used to determine admissibility. Provide yearly professional development opportunities for higher education instructors embedded in local high schools to ensure quality instruction.
3. Share the costs. Develop a funding model that is equitable for high schools and colleges. Consider basing funding on the number of credit hours students complete. Establish a maximum and minimum per-credit charge that the college can submit to the state for reimbursement/funding. Do not charge students for credit hours or for books or learning materials.
4. Be tough and purposeful. Among the report’s six recommendations in the area of rigor: Ensure courses offered at the high school are the same as those offered at the college. Ensure that each course can be applied to a future degree or certificate. Give participating high school students options for the number of college credits they can earn in high school. List all dual-enrollment courses among official high school course offerings. Ensure that all instructors are credentialed and qualified to teach the material.
5. Communicate. Staying in touch with students, parents and stakeholders is important. Develop a joint “information packet” to distribute to participating students and their families. Promote the program and relevant news and developments on your institution’s website and through other public communication channels. Offer student orientation programs. Assign advisers to ensure students stay on track.
6. Use the data. Always keep track of your success. Create reports that allow program administrators, funders and others to see how many students are enrolling in the program, what courses are being taken and how students are doing. Make sure policymakers and others know what’s happening, and keep them apprised of your progress.
Is your college looking for ways to improve its dual-enrollment options? Do you have any suggestions? Tell us in the Comments.