Dual enrollment programs offer high school students the chance to enroll in college courses and earn transferable college credit while they are still pursuing a high school diploma. Research shows that dual enrollment participants are more likely to enroll and persist in college, earn higher GPAs during college and accumulate more college credit.
Maryland’s College and Career Act of 2013 recognized the potential of these opportunities and called for the expansion of dual enrollment in the state. But according to a December 2016 report to the Maryland General Assembly, only 2% of Baltimore City public 12th grade students participated in dual enrollment opportunities in 2015 as compared with a state average of 11%. Why are the participation rates so low for students in Maryland, particularly those in Baltimore City? What are the factors that stand in the way of greater access for students in City Schools?
In this latest Abell Report, Dr. Gail Sunderman, Director of the Maryland Equity Project at the University of Maryland College of Education, begins to answer those questions about access and opportunity. Dual Enrollment in Maryland and Baltimore City: An Examination of Program Components and Design traces the variations in dual enrollment implementation across four Maryland school districts. By examining funding arrangements, eligibility requirements, student support services, and communication strategies, Dr. Sunderman teases out the factors involved in producing such unequal enrollment patterns.
The report illustrates that the current law does not do enough to achieve equitable opportunities for all of Maryland youth. Dr. Sunderman concludes that “designing and implementing a robust dual enrollment program that reaches a broad spectrum of students requires more than simply making the program available and expecting that students will take advantage of it. It requires resources, support personnel, and flexibility for administrators to respond to a range of implementation issues as they arise.”
The report recommends that Maryland reform its dual enrollment policies and practices. Specifically, it calls on the state to expand its financial support of districts and higher education institutions pursuing dual enrollment programs; fund the provision of student support services; facilitate the transfer of credits; incentivize program models that incorporate dual enrollment; consider alternative eligibility requirements; and continue to study and evaluate its processes and outcomes.