ACT Launches Dual-Enrollment Initiative

December 15, 2015

ACT researchers have found that high school graduates who enter college with dual-enrollment credits are more likely to complete a four-year degree in less time than those without the early credits. It's part of the reason why ACT is launching a dual-enrollment initiative to increase the number of high school students in those courses.

Dual enrollment, or concurrent enrollment, allows students to take college courses and earn credit while still attending high school. In a new report from ACT -- "Using Dual Enrollment to Improve the Educational Outcomes for High School Students" -- the company best known for its college readiness assessment asserts four recommendations:

  • Develop consistent funding mechanisms for sustainability and creation of dual-enrollment courses.
  • Ensure high-quality instruction.
  • Offer additional support for dually enrolled students.
  • Use online resources to increase access.

ACT is discouraging schools and states to require students to pay for dual-enrollment courses. Only eight states have eliminated all or most tuition costs for dual-enrollment students, but in nine states students are responsible for the full cost of participating, according to the report. The cost concern has reached the White House as well. The Obama administration is experimenting with allowing access to Pell Grants for high school students in dual-enrollment courses.

ACT is also recommending that states develop a teacher improvement fund or allocate dollars to providing incentives for high school teachers in dual-enrollment programs so they can achieve a master's degree or the sufficient number of graduate-level credits to teach in a relevant subject area. That's an issue some Midwestern states have been contending with since the Higher Learning Commission clarified its rules on dual-enrollment instructor requirements. The nation's largest accreditor expects dual-enrollment instructors to have a master's degree in the specialty they're teaching or at least 18 graduate-level credit hours within that specialty. The issue has concerned some dual-enrollment advocates, who see the clarification as a way to limit access.

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