Dual Enrollment and Basic Skills: A New Pathway for Students

Educational Policies Chair

The passage of AB 288 (Holden, 2015) on dual enrollment introduced many changes to the potential structure of dual enrollment at colleges, most of which were covered in the February 2015 Rostrum article “Dual Enrollment:  What Local Senates Need to Know.” One of the most significant changes, however, is that under the new College and Career Access Pathways (CCAP) agreements colleges will be allowed to offer developmental courses in both English and math.   Under previous memorandums of understanding, instructional service agreements, and other agreements that created dual enrollment partnerships between school districts and community college districts, no developmental courses could be offered by the community colleges, which meant that these programs were often open only to students who were achieving at a high level in high school.  AB 288 was created to promote college options to students who are historically underrepresented, including those who are low-income or initially not college-bound.

The introduction of developmental courses to dual enrollment is a significant change for several reasons.  First, research from a variety of sources demonstrates that historically underrepresented high school students benefit from dual enrollment.  The Colorado Department of Education, for example, looked at cohorts of traditionally underrepresented high school students who participated in dual enrollment courses and found that their grade point averages in high school were higher than their peers not enrolled in the cohort[1]. Interestingly, a Community College Research Center study of students enrolled in the Concurrent Course Initiative[2] in California between 2008-2010 found that students who participated in the concurrent enrollment initiative tended to have the same grade point average as non-participants but graduated from high school at a higher rate and had accrued more college credits at the time of their graduation from high school[3]

Other studies have demonstrated that historically underrepresented high school students also see higher high school retention and on-time graduation rates, higher assessments into college-level courses, higher college grades, and higher levels of credit accrual than their peers that do not participate in dual enrollment programs.  The Community College Research Center has prepared a document that provides some of the key findings of research conducted by the center and others[4].

As one might expect, a number of regulations govern the offering of developmental courses within dual enrollment agreements.  First, only College and Career Access Pathways (CCAP) partnerships as spelled out in AB 288 are allowed to include developmental courses into their pathways for dual enrolled students.  This condition is applicable to programs that generate FTES; if the program is offered under contract education, exceptions can be made to the requirement.  In order to offer pre-collegiate level English or math courses, both the high school and the community college districts are required to accept all of the required elements of the CCAP Partnership Agreements, including a defined pathway and special evaluative reporting.  Specifics regarding these requirements can be found in the CCCCO’s Partnership Agreement Guidelines[5].

Local senates and faculty should engage with their administrations and other interested stakeholders to determine what type of agreement would best serve the college or district and the students. While these courses are pre-collegiate, they are still college courses, and therefore the faculty teaching the classes must meet the established minimum qualifications for the discipline.  While courses can be offered by a high school teacher on the high school campus, in order to qualify as a dual enrollment course, the faculty member must meet the state minimum qualifications for community college faculty.  In addition, issues could potentially arise with local collective bargaining agreements, and so the local bargaining agent must be involved in the conversations if a college decides to move forward with a CCAP. 

The Dual Enrollment Task Force, organized by the Chancellor’s Office and led by the Career Ladders Project and the RP Group, will be releasing a dual enrollment toolkit in May with more information for colleges that are interested in moving to an AB 288 CCAP agreement.  This group, which includes representatives from the ASCCC, CSSOs, CIOs, and other groups, will ensure that the tool kit is widely disseminated, not only to administrators but also to faculty, senate presidents, curriculum chairs, and others. Information about programs, templates, and other documents will be gathered throughout the spring and summer and sent to field.

[2] In California, the terms “concurrent enrollment” and “dual enrollment” are used interchangeably; however, the term “concurrent enrollment” is not found in California Education Code, as per the California Community College Chancellor’s Office legal opinion of 11 March 2016, available here:  http://extranet.cccco.edu/Portals/1/Legal/Legal%20Opinions/Legal%20Opinion%2016-02%20Dual%20Enrollment%20and%20AB%20288%20%2528CCAP%2529.pdf