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New Policy Brief and Data Visualizations Show Success of High School Students Participating in Dual Enrollment Programs

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February 8, 2023

The ASU Helios Decision Center for Educational Excellence at Arizona State University and Helios Education Foundation today released a new policy brief and set of visualizations showing outcomes for students in Arizona high schools enrolled in dual enrollment programs, along with gaps that persist in the educational system preventing more students from taking advantage of dual enrollment programs. Highlights from the report show:

  • Dual enrollment students are twice as likely to go to college than their matched non-dual enrollment peers.
  • This increased likelihood is greatest for students who are low-income, male, Latino, and special education students with an individualized education program.
  • The type of dual enrollment course that students took impacted their likelihood of going to college. For example, in the class of 2019, dual enrollment students who successfully took an English course were 2.4 times more likely than their peers to attend college and students who took a math course were 2.2 times more likely to attend college.
  • Dual enrollment students are more than 1.2 times more likely to persist from year one to year two in college than their non-dual enrollment peers.
  • Although the rate of dual enrollment course-taking in Arizona has increased since 2017, only 24.4 percent of high school graduates take at least one dual enrollment course.

The Decision Center identified that nearly half of Arizona high schools do not offer dual enrollment due to either inequitable access; the absence of a systematic policy to help students and families pay for dual enrollment; the absence of a standardized way to determine eligibility for dual enrollment; or a lack of certified teachers to offer and teach dual enrollment courses.

Dual enrollment courses provide college courses at the high school during the school day. Course grades of A, B or C earn college credit that can be transferred to the university. In contrast, Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) courses have specific rigorous curriculum, but the grade in the course does not result in college credit. Instead, students must take a standardized final exam and if they score high enough the university they will attend will determine if they will accept the score for college credit. This means that student knowledge and the ability to translate the course to college credit relies on a single examination, typically at the end of the academic year.

“There’s no arguing with the data; students who take dual enrollment courses have better postsecondary outcomes than their peers,” said Paul Perrault, senior vice president of community impact and learning for Helios Education Foundation and project lead on the dual enrollment policy brief. “The challenge before us now is to work to scale dual enrollment programs so that more Arizona students can benefit.”

In conjunction with the policy brief, the Decision Center also released an interactive module that allows educators to look at a series of data visualizations related to dual enrollment and AP courses. The module shows that access to dual enrollment and AP courses is not equitable across Arizona. Additional highlights include:

  • Only 53 percent of schools offer either dual enrollment or AP; 35 percent offer both and 47 percent offer neither.
  • Thirty-eight percent of students enroll in AP while 24 percent enroll in dual enrollment.
    • A higher percentage of dual enrollment students earn transferable college credit in university courses than those who took AP.
    • Ninety-five percent of students enrolled in dual enrollment earn college credit while in high school vs 37 percent enrolled in AP.

“Our data visualizations offer rich insight for educators and policymakers to study trends with dual enrollment and AP course taking in a way never available before,” said Joe O’Reilly, director of the Decision Center for Educational Excellence and project lead on the dual enrollment policy brief. “Schools can use this visualization, along with a report of school level data provided, to discuss how they compare to other schools and see the potential benefits of offering their students dual enrollment or other rigorous courses.”

About the ASU Helios Decision Center for Educational Excellence

The ASU Helios Decision Center for Educational Excellence at Arizona State University is bringing together all we know about the education system, the resources of ASU and the Helios Education Foundation, and education stakeholders in order to drive positive change and better student outcomes. The vision is to empower all Arizona students to maximize their potential,

experience an excellent quality of life and contribute to healthy and vibrant communities. Partnering with ASU’s Decision Theater and other ASU researchers and thought leaders, we bring together data and convene key stakeholders to examine the education system and model and visualize the impact of potential new policies and innovative solutions on education outcomes.

About Helios Education Foundation

Helios Education Foundation exists to support postsecondary attainment for low-income and underrepresented communities in Arizona and Florida. Driven by our fundamental beliefs of Community, Equity, Investment, and Partnership, Helios has invested nearly $300 million in partnerships and initiatives focused on improving education outcomes in the two states we serve. We take a multi-pronged approach – working across four domains, including performance-based community investments, systemic public policy efforts, research and data, and impact-driven communications – that together support the significant changes required to foster equitable progress across the education continuum.www.helios.org

About Arizona State University

Arizona State University has developed a new model for the American research university, creating an institution that is committed to access, excellence and impact. ASU measures itself by those it includes, not by those it excludes. As the prototype for a New American University, ASU pursues research that contributes to the public good, and ASU assumes major responsibility for the economic, social and cultural vitality of the communities that surround it.

Katie Paquet

Senior Advisor, Strategic Communications