Community college students appear to suffer when in the same courses as high school students in dual-enrollment programs.
A new working paper from the Community College Research Center examined how exposure to higher percentages of dual-enrollment students influenced the performance of college students.
The potential negative effects are concerning, given that, in 2010, 15 percent of first-time community college students were in dual-enrollment programs, and that number is believed to have increased over time.
Researchers found that increasing the proportion of dual-enrollment students in a course section by 10 percentage points had a "small but significant negative effect" on non-dual enrollment students.
College students were two percentage points less likely to pass a course for every 10-percentage-point increase in dual enrollment students. The course persistence rate decreased by one percentage point. The average GPA for college students was also 0.06 points lower when they were in a course with a higher proportion of dual-enrollment students.
It also had long-term effects, researchers found. College students were more likely to repeat a course and also less likely to enroll in a new course in the same subject area.
When the researchers divided college students up by GPA, they found that the effects were fairly consistent, regardless of the students' prior GPAs.
While the researchers point out that dual enrollment has been positive for community colleges struggling to increase enrollment, administrators and instructors need to "be aware of the possible challenges" that the programs present.