Unlocking Potential

A State Policy Roadmap for Equity and Quality in College in High School Programs

College in high school programs such as dual enrollment, concurrent enrollment, and early college high schools are popular and effective tools to improve college access and success. In 2019 alone, 18 governors discussed earning college credit prior to high school graduation in their “State of the State” addresses, and new laws passed in more than 16 states addressing some aspect of these programs. But equitable access to these programs has remained a challenge. Of the nearly two million students participating in college in high school programs, far too few are students of color or students from low-income families.

The College in High School Alliance (CHSA) and the Level Up coalition have published Unlocking Potential: A State Policy Roadmap for Equity and Quality in College in High School Programs. This resource can serve as a roadmap for states that want to design policy that drives meaningful change in access, equity, and quality for college in high school programs. The report also highlights examples from 28 states that have taken steps to build strong state policies.

To help states build a policy framework for college in high school programs that will close equity gaps and promote quality, Unlocking Potential details six critical components and provides policy recommendations for each:

Equity Goal & Public Reporting: States set an equitable, statewide public goal for increasing the participation and success of traditionally underserved student groups in college in high school programs, with clear, disaggregated public reporting and accountability for progress toward the goal.

Program Integrity & Credit Transfer: States support and promote high-quality college in high school programs through effective oversight and cross-sector collaboration between the K-12 and postsecondary sectors, as well as ensuring credit articulation.

Finance: States design funding mechanisms that remove financial barriers for low-income and moderate-income students to participate and excel in college-level work in high school.

Course Access & Availability: States ensure that students are able to access college in high school courses, regardless of geography, with pathways that maximize opportunities for students to earn multiple college credits, and facilitate students exploring academic and career areas of interest while ensuring that those courses count toward high school graduation requirements.

Instructor Capacity: States develop strategies to recruit, support, and diversify the pool of instructors with the qualifications to teach college in high school while encouraging collaboration between K-12 and postsecondary partners as college in high school programs are scaled.

Navigational Supports: States prioritize the student navigational supports and advising needed to ensure student success in college in high school courses, particularly for those students historically underserved by these programs.

Every state has work to do to expand high-quality options for students. Education Strategy Group and the Level Up partners stand ready to help policymakers and practitioners advance this critical work.

Review Ryan’s commentary about the report on the Fordham Institute’s Flypaper Blog.