A “Jump Start” on College

June 2007 / Abell Reports / Education

Opportunities afforded by dual enrollment, Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB), and other programs enable students to earn college credits before they graduate from high school.

The Abell Foundation commissioned this study to examine the potential of dual college enrollment and similar learning options for students enrolled in Baltimore City Public School System (BCPSS) high schools.  What is the potential of dual enrollment as a strategy to improve high school completion rates, ease the transition to college for lower-achieving students, decrease the need for college remediation, and improve college graduation rates?

Dual enrollment permits high school students to earn transferable college credits before graduation from high school. It and other early college access programs have traditionally served high achievers, so the study further considers ways to enhance credit-bearing opportunities for students already planning to attend college. Strategies that introduce more rigor, teach college success skills, and ease the transition between secondary and postsecondary education could benefit large numbers of BCPSS students.

The Abell Foundation is publishing this report to support BCPSS in implementing its Master Plan for 2006-2008, which calls for a number of early college access programs. The Master Plan lists expansion of dual enrollment, AP, and higher education partnership activities as tactics for achieving its Goal 5: “All students will graduate from high school.”

Multiple research studies have identified five strong predictors of college attendance and completion, particularly for minority and low-income students: academic preparation, social support, access to information, parental involvement and knowledge about college, and financial aid. This report focuses primarily on the first two elements, academics and social support. However, all five elements should be considered vital to any college transition initiative.